Since 1999, the Small Grants for artists has been allowing local creators to pursue their vision. A collaboration between Telluride Arts and the Town of Telluride, the grants have supported more than 300 artists in the community since its inception. With the end of 2021 right around the corner, 2022 Small Grant applications are now open.
“We have $10,000 to fund each year,” explained Austin Halpern, exhibitions and events manager for Telluride Arts. “In 2021, we funded 10 artists. Each year the number of recipients might vary a bit, but it’s generally between five and 12.”
Telluride Arts oversees distributing the grants, and a separate committee is enlisted to choose the recipients, said Halpern. The committee consists of six to eight local artists. Each year a new committee is created, and members cannot apply for this specific grant. Halpern emphasized the importance of having a committee that represents all facets of the art community in Telluride.
The committee consists of, but is not limited to, musicians, literary artists, film artists, dancers and painters.
“We try and represent most artistic mediums within the committee so that we can make informed decisions about the funding they receive,” Halpern said.
This year’s recipients included artists who spanned a wide range of mediums like acrobatics, ceramics, music, podcasting, children’s books and painting. Fifty percent of the grant is given to the artists at the commencement of the project, and then the remainder is given at the project’s completion.
Artists can apply for the Small Grant each year. Many artists receive the funding multiple years in a row. However, they cannot accept any additional grants from Telluride Arts during that year; each artist is limited to one grant, explained Halpern.
Mixed reality artist Brooke Einbender received the grant in 2019 and 2021. In 2019, she used the funds to purchase a virtual reality headset and computer for her project “Expansion into the Virtual.”
“These were the only material cost I needed to dive into virtual reality. It was the greatest gift ever,” she said.
The 2021 grant went towards her “Large Scale Door” installation. The project started when she began collecting free doors on the Telluride Sweet Deals Facebook Page. This past year she has taken abandoned doors and transformed them using colors, lights, cutout shapes and projections. The community has been a massive part of her work, she said. Once people caught wind of her project, doors began randomly appearing on her studio doorstep.
To Einbender, doors are portals that represent beginnings, endings and transitions within a person’s life. She saw the doors as an opportunity to “start conversations and to connect with others and hear what comes to mind for different people when they think of doors.” The money went to power tools, sawhorses and paints needed to create an immersive door installation. A large portion of her 2021 work was done at Silver Bell Mine in Ophir.
For any artist looking to apply for the 2022 Small Grants, she recommends being as thorough as possible in the application, while also displaying how you will share your project with the community.
“The process is in-depth, but it’s a great way to elevate your creativity and provide those resources if you can’t access them yourself. Spend the time writing out your vision or your grant request in a way that displays and amplifies your talents and gifts and shows how you can share it with the community at large,” Einbender said.
While the project doesn’t need to be a direct community project, the artist should present their art to the community in some accessible format, explained Halpern.
“Whether that’s a performance or a presentation, or a write-up in the Daily Planet, these grants need to be shared with the community,” he said.
That is an eligibility requirement artists must agree to when submitting their application, in addition to other statements, like “I live and/or work in Telluride.”
In a recent Daily Planet piece, another 2021 grant recipient, Robin Kondracki, explained she used the funds to start work on a mural at the Telluride Boarding House. The project was a genuine community effort. After Kondracki received the grant, she had to pitch her ideas to the Town of Telluride before moving forward with the project.
“I love that murals can be enjoyed by everyone,” she said. “I like their sense of permanence — that these works can be enjoyed by people now, and a few years from now,” Kondracki said in last week’s article.
Last year, Telluride Arts received around 40 applications for the Small Grants.
“We’d love to fund all of them if we could. There are so many talented artists, and they each have something unique and important to offer,” said Halpern.
The deadline to apply for the Telluride Arts Small Grant is Dec. 17. The grants committee will meet in January, and projects will be awarded and funded by Feb. 1, 2022.
To apply, visit telluridearts.org/small-grants.