Stanford Alumni Arts Grant

Applications are sought for Stanford alumni arts projects


To support a burgeoning arts career by a recent Stanford graduate, this award will provide up to $5,000 toward a public production, exhibit, publication, or other original work in any arts discipline to occur during the upcoming year.

This grant is administered by the Office of the Vice President for the Arts.

The Stanford Alumni Arts Grant is made possible by generous gifts from individuals and the Drs. Ben and A. Jess Shenson Fund.


Who can apply?

Grants are open to Stanford University alumni from any major or program who graduated between 2013-2017. (For co-term students, you must have completed your co-term program prior to the application deadline.)

Recipient should not be a current full-time student at Stanford University or another institution; part-time students are eligible as long as they are not enrolled at Stanford University.

Applications are accepted from alumni with no more than ten professional productions, films, exhibitions, publications, etc. at the time of application.

What types of projects are eligible?

Projects will be considered in the following categories:

  • Visual Art Exhibition (includes Photography)
  • Film or Digital Media Production (includes Screenwriting)
  • Performance (Dance, Theater, Music/Sound, Playwriting, and Interdisciplinary)

Projects involving recorded media (such as an album or a film) must also incorporate a live component (such as a concert or film screening) as part of the project plan.

The public performance, exhibit, or screening should take place during calendar year 2018. Exact dates do not have to be determined at the time of application, but a plan for exhibition should be clarified as soon as possible. Events do not need to take place on the main Stanford campus.

Funding and Expectations

This award is intended to enhance the existing plans for a public art project. Applicants may receive partial or full awards.

Proposals should make clear how the grant funds ($1,000-$5,000) will add value or opportunity that would not otherwise be possible.

  • The award can be used toward facility or installation costs, technical production costs, printing and publication expenses, marketing expenses, etc.
  • For works already receiving fiscal or production support from another organization, the Stanford Alumni Arts Grant can be used toward costs not covered by the sponsor.
  • This award is not intended to support salaries or living expenses for the recipient, although it can be used to support technical specialist expenses as needed.

The grant recipient is responsible for providing the Office of the Vice President for the Arts with appropriate documentation of the completed project and will provide up to four tickets to the premiere event available to Stanford-related attendees as requested. The grant recipient will also provide financial documentation at the conclusion of the grant.

Awards payments are subject to U.S. and state income tax laws, and that the payment of the award may be tax reportable. Grant recipients are responsible for reporting stipend payments to the proper taxing authorities, as well as liable for any tax payments that may be due. 

How to Apply


  • October 31 by 11:59pm (Pacific): Application deadline
  • December 2017: Semi-finalists notified
  • late January 2018: Finalists notified


Application materials include:

  1. Stanford Graduation Details, Artist’s Bio (150-200 words), Artist Resume
  2. Project Title, Genre/Media, Project Abstract (100 words)
  3. Project Proposal (~750 words)
  4. Project Timeline
  5. Project Budget (Please use provided Budget Form. If additional budget documentation is available, please upload that documentation with the Budget Form as a single file)
  6. Up to three pieces of media that demonstrate your skill and accomplishments in your genre or media. Please submit samples that were completed within the past five years (preferably post-Stanford graduation).

Application Resources

Getting Started: Alumni Grant 101

Emphasize professional development

  • This grant is just as much about your development as an artist as it is about your project.
  • The emphasis of this grant is to support alumni who are engaging in intentional creative practice. This doesn’t mean that it’s limited to full-time career artists—many of our past grantees are pursuing other (non-arts) related careers in addition to their creative work. The review committee is interested in learning about how you are committing to your creative work on a regular basis.
  • We want to know how this particular project will bring your career to the next level. The leap doesn’t have to be huge—if you are a recent grad, taking on your first professional project is a major career step! Are you working on developing your portfolio? Your first solo show?
    • For more seasoned artists (including MFA alumni), how will this project help you progress to the next phase of your career? Staging a work that’s been in development for years? Completion funds for your first feature film?

Set yourself up for success

  • The strongest applicants apply with an existing project that’s in the works. Don’t propose a project for the sake of this grant.
  • Projects don’t have to be complicated. Sometimes the most elegant proposal is also the simplest. Be realistic about what you can accomplish within your existing commitments.
  • Be realistic about the size and availability of your venue. You may have limited time to rehearse/install your project. (The availability of exhibition and performance spaces on the main Stanford campus availability is very limited for alumni artists. We recommend planning your project with another location in mind.)
  • You can never have too much practice with grant writing!  The components of this particular grant application can even be used as templates for other (non-Stanford) opportunities.
  • Applying for other grants or planning a crowdfunding campaign? Leverage this grant as seed funding! Funders are often attracted to projects that have some initial funding.
Tips for Recent Grads (Class of 2017)
  • Your project proposal should act as an introduction to you and your work. Don’t assume that the review committee is familiar with your work on campus. (The committee is comprised of alumni in the arts from all over the United States.) Highlight any relevant campus arts leadership positions/awards on your CV.
  • Creating new work takes time. Particularly for recent grads, the committee is not expecting you to propose a solo show in a large, established gallery or fully stage an original musical. If you have a large, ambitious project in mind, think about dividing it into phases and using this grant to support just one of those sections.
  • Be humble, especially if you’re establishing yourself in a new community. Look for assistant/apprentice opportunities to familiarize yourself with how things are done beyond Stanford. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you don’t know something—ask thoughtful questions! If someone helps you along the way make sure to find a way to reciprocate.
  • Get to know your local arts agency (LAA)! LAA’s are great resources for navigating opportunities and resources in your geographic area (or, if you’re producing work in another location, learning about that particular landscape.) Many LAAs offer workshops for developing your business and career acumen. Many also offer grants, work/rehearsal space, and community engagement opportunities.
  • Sign up for a mentor through Stanford Alumni Mentoring (SAM). This is a great resource to connect with alumni in the arts and to seek advice for transitioning your creative practice.


Sabrina Wilensky
Projects and Grants Manager
Office of the Vice President for the Arts

Meet the Grantees

Current and Past Recipients