Fine Art Photography Daily

ONWARD Compé: Exhibition Opportunites and Grants

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I recently received an e-mail from Tsuyoshi Ito, Founder & Program Director of Project Basho, offering to share his research for exhibition opportunities and grants with the Lenscratch audience and I gladly accepted his offer.  I was moved by his gesture of community and giving, which in turn, made me want to celebrate the programming and opportunities that Project Basho and ONWARD Compé offers.  A big thank you to Tsuyoshi for his generosity.  Following these terrific resources, is more information on submitting to ONWARD Compé.

Approachable Galleries
Posted on Nov 23, 2013 in ONWARD Resource
onward-resource-approachable-galleries-usWhere does your work have the best chance of getting shown?
Entering photo competitions can be a great way to get your work out there and possibly get shown in a group exhibition. However, there are many galleries that are looking for submissions of new work year round. We’ve been hard at work compiling a list of approachable galleries that might be more open to accepting work from emerging photographers.Photo Arts Centers
Photo arts centers are an excellent place to start submitting your work. Many of them have an open deadline and no submission fee, offering the same exposure you’d get in a competition, but allowing you to apply at your leisure.

If you go this route, be sure to read the guidelines for submission, as they vary from center to center. Also, be prepared to be patient–due to the high volumes of submissions they receive, it may take a few months for your portfolio to be reviewed by some of the more popular centers. Check out our list of photo arts centers below:

Center for Photography at Woodstock
Woodstock, NY

Chicago Photography Center
Chicago, IL

Colorado Photographic Arts Center
Denver, CO

Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography
Detroit, MI (Online Gallery)

Houston Center for Photography
Houston, TX

Museum of Contemporary Photography
Chicago, IL

Museum of Photographic Arts
San Diego, CA

Newspace Center for Photography
Portland, OR

RayKo Photo Center
San Francisco, CA

Southeast Museum of Photography
Daytona Beach, FL

Vermont Center of Photography
Brattleboro, VT

Viewpoint Photographic Center
Sacramento, CA

University Galleries
Universities are not only a hotbed for artistic appreciation, but they may also be home to some of the most approachable galleries in the United States. Once again, it is important to carefully review the submission guidelines, as all of them are different–one gallery may prefer MFA grads, while another may ask you to come and speak to one of their classes about the work you are exhibiting.

It might take some searching to find a gallery that is the right fit for you, but we’ve gotten you started with our list, below:

Bloomsburg University
Bloomsburg, PA

Bradley University
Peoria, IL

Elon University

Emory and Henry College (The 1912 Gallery)
Emory, VA

George School
Newtown, PA

McNeese State University
Lake Charles, LA

Moore College of Art
Philadelphia, PA

Saginaw Valley State University
University Center, MI

Saint Joseph’s University (Boland Hall)
Philadelphia, PA

Salisbury University
Salisbury, MD

Texas Tech University School of Art (SRO Gallery)
Lubbock, TX

The College of New Rochelle
New Rochelle, NY

University of Central Florida

University of Dallas (Haggerty Art Gallery)
Irving, TX

University of Oregon
Portland, OR

University of the Arts
Philadelphia, PA

These lists should get you off to an excellent start if you are looking for more accessible venues to approach about exhibiting your work. Click around, explore their websites and figure out which opportunities are the best fit for you. As always, remember that the most important thing is to keep trying, and don’t give up on submitting your work!

Note from ONWARD: our goal was to create a list that is easy to use for anyone to obtain information. To this end, we had two criteria when compiling the list:

The information on submission and its procedure was explicitly stated on websites.
Juried exhibitions and competitions are excluded.

You are more than welcome to suggest an organization that is accepting submissions and proposals on an on-going basis and should be added. Please contact us!
– See more at:


Grant Writing for Photographers 101, Part 1 Searching for Grants
Posted on Dec 1, 2013 in ONWARD Resource


ONWARD Resource: Grant Writing for Photographers 101

Grants from private foundations have been available to individual artists for a long time especially in the US, but the process of getting one is rather esoteric or, at the best, a guessing game to most photographers.

In order to demystify the process, we talked to people who are established in this field. Yes, there are people whose day job is to write grants to raise money for institutions. For this series of articles, we were fortunate to talk with Ken Goldman about how individual photographers should go about getting their projects funded.

Ken is a Senior Associate Vice President & Chief Philanthropic Officer at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. He has been raising crucial funding for cultural non-profit organizations all over the US. Prior to his current position, he worked for Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, WI, Playhouse Square Center in Cleveland, OH, the Memphis, TN Symphony Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra in Orange County, CA, and the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation in Woodland Hills, CA.

With his generosity, we will be featuring Grant Writing for Photographers 101 in two parts this week: Searching for Grants and Writing for Grants. Our goal for these articles is simple: we want you to be savvy about the process of grant writing so that you can fund your personal projects. Ken is rich with invaluable information. So, let’s begin!

ONWARD: Let’s get to the point. Are there grants specific to photography as a medium?

Ken Goldman: Photographers take heart! There are philanthropic dollars out there to support your work in this art form. These grants can take many forms and are sometimes intended to encourage photography of a specific kind, such as capturing nature scenes or documenting a social issue. In addition to grants, there are competitions with cash prizes.

A simple Google search will help you find some opportunities, such as the PhotoPhilanthropy website.

Another good place to start would be government arts service agencies. In the United States, every state has a state arts council, and many cities and counties have their own local councils as well. The agencies usually make grants and offer assistance to help artists find additional support. A list of US state arts agencies can be found here.

ONWARD: These are great starting points! How about some places to look for sources of grants that may not seem obvious?

Ken: There are database organizations that specialize in compiling grant funding information. While they may allow an online visitor to do some basic searches based on a funder’s name or look for funders in a specific geographic area, this kind of broad searching is not that helpful when you are trying to find grant makers who support photography. You may need to make an investment in a membership that will give you the ability to search grantor funding interests.

One especially well-known database organization is the Foundation Center. An individual grant seeker can subscribe to the site for as low as $19.95 for one month. The Foundation Center also has physical locations around the United States where one can go and use resources for free. They have primary locations and a host of associate locations. Start searching for a location near you here.

ONWARD: Who would know about these databases existed! Once we find one, what are things to consider when you begin your search for places to apply for grants?

Ken: Once you have used sources like those described above to identify a list of possible funders for your photography, you should try to do as much research about each funder as possible. Do not simply find their address and mail them a proposal. Review their website carefully or read about them through other sources. Funders do not want extraneous proposals that do not match their goals, so they usually try to be quite specific as to what sorts of things they are interested in supporting. They don’t want to waste their time – or yours. If your work doesn’t match their focus, move on – it is not worth your time to try and convince them otherwise. Also, many funders are geographically oriented so make sure they are willing to make grants in the location where you work.

If you think you have found a funder whose interests match your work, try to contact that funder by email or telephone to ask for a meeting or at least a teleconference to discuss your project. That’s the best way to know if your request will get serious consideration. Even if they won’t engage directly with you, funders usually have a process for fielding inquiries. They frequently do not want a full proposal as the first contact. Often they just want a short letter describing what you want to do, which is known as a “letter of inquiry.” If the funder thinks your project may coincide with its goals, you will be invited to submit a full proposal. That is still no guarantee you will get a grant but your project will get more serious attention.

ONWARD: Our audience comes from all over the globe. Are these opportunities limited to those who work in the US? If so, do you have any advice for those who are outside of the US?

Ken: The advice offered here is based on fund raising in the United States, which has a large private funding sector with many individuals, foundations and corporations active in it. American tax laws have encouraged the development of private giving over many decades. Similar funding environments are evolving in countries around the world but few (if any) have reached the same extent as in the United States. International photographers will need to conduct research through the Internet and other means to try and identify private sources in their respective countries. One funding sector, however, that may actually be better than the United States in many countries is government. Many countries place a high priority on their cultural heritage and creative economy, and devote significant resources to promoting them. So channels for government investment in artists — such as through a Ministry of Culture — are definitely worth exploring.

But some things will be the same wherever you go. Recognizing that fund raising is a business of relationships based on trust is a principle that should be applicable around the globe.

ONWARD: This is really invaluable advice that everyone can benefit from right away. We will continue with the interview focusing on advice for writing for grants this week. Thank you, Ken!

Tomorrow, the Oward Compé blog, will release Part II of the Grants article.



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ONWARD Compé is an international photography competition for emerging photographers. The exhibition of selected photographers’ images culminates in the ONWARD Summit, an annual photography festival held in Philadelphia.

Juried each year by a leading figure in contemporary photography, ONWARD Compé spotlights new, envelope-pushing work that continues to further the medium. Now in its seventh year, Compé has solidified its standing as a highly respected international competition, drawing submissions from across the U.S. and around the globe. The competition seeks to increase the exposure of talented image-makers, create outlets for artists’ work, and present compelling photographs in a cohesive and well-curated exhibition.

Compé and Summit are two prongs of ONWARD, a multifaceted photography happening that encompasses a photography festival in Philadelphia, an international competition, Galerie, an online gallery featuring selected photographers, and Workshops for discerning photographers.

Learn more here.

ONWARD Compé always announces it’s winners in a unique way, check out the 2013 finalists…..

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