It is a struggle for artists to solely focus on their artistic practices in our times. There are more than enough exciting things to do aside from art. Not only that, opportunities are hard to find unless artists actively promote themselves or seek for chances, regardless of how talented they are. Countless artists have put their works aside for financial reasons. Naturally, more artists are now turning to grants or public projects. Perhaps it is time to turn our eyes to the global stage. Many programs around the world, including those in Asia, Europe, and North America support creators, without placing restrictions on nationalities. We focused on two key ideas, “international” and “nationalities put aside,” and selected start-up support programs, art awards, grants, and fellowships from around the world. The list includes organizations that provide economic support with cash awards or scholarships, as well as a number of programs that help establish an international art network through exhibitions, art fairs and collaborative projects. If you are looking to promote your artistic talent on the international stage, you might find your answer from the text.
For about 40 years, America’s Seed Fund has been helping startups and small enterprises to put forth their ideas to the market and succeed. In particular, the Fund focuses on risky but high-potential technologies. That is, prospective technologies requiring careful consideration are more likely to grab the Fund’s attention. America’s Seed Fund awards $200 million to US entrepreneurs every year. The aim is to support “innovation” and create businesses and jobs in the US. The Fund operates around the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR).
The SBIR is a competitive program that encourages domestic small and medium sized enterprises to participate in federal research and development that has the business potential. The awardee is given the opportunity to show its technological potentials and start a business to generate profits. Also, the awardee is allowed to participate in national research and development, allowing the enterprise to establish a firm footing. Of course, this is possible only when the enterprise’s idea is scientifically sound and technologically innovative. On the other hand, the STTR expands public-private partnership to allow SMEs and nonprofit research institutions to engage in joint venture programs. The biggest role of the STTR is narrowing the gap between basic science and commercialization of resulting innovation.
Those planning to apply for America’s Seed Fund must prepare a comprehensive proposal specifying their technological areas of focus, business plans, expense budget and technology plans.
The Entrepreneurs’ Programme is the Australian government’s flagship initiative to promote business competitiveness and productivity. Part of the government’s national innovation and scientific development agenda, the Programme supports companies based on the following 4 keywords.
- 1. Accelerating commercialization: supports SMEs, companies and researchers to commercialize new products, services and processes.
- 2. Business management: experienced business experts review the company’s direction, strategies, growth potential, supply chain and overall business management. They provide reports with business strategies and collaborate to improve the company.
- 3. Incubator support: supports new and existing incubators to develop business capabilities in order to improve the prospects Australian startups and help them commercially succeed in the international market.
- 4. Innovation connections: innovative technology experts help to identify elements that hamper business growth and provide business reports with solutions.
The Programme helps companies to enhance their productivity and competitiveness. In doing so, it provides funding through the Accelerating Commercialisation Fund (ACG) and Business Growth Grants. These programs finance up to 50％ of the successful applicant’s project expenses. In the case of commercial businesses and qualified partner groups, up to $250,000 and in the case of other participants, up to $1 million is granted. In addition, the Programme provides full support for and fosters qualified companies to enter the international market.
Berlin is indeed the heart of German startups. Not only is the city highly populated, but it is seeing more people settling and starting businesses recently. As such, the German government is providing programs to help them settle and allow the city to prosper. Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) supports small startups to more sizeable companies, as befits its name “Business Development Bank.” In particular, smaller businesses with less than 250 employees, less than €500,000 in sales, and less than €430,000 in total on the balance sheet, can apply for project grants and enjoy expert advice. The programs consist of 18 categories including Berlin Innovation, Berlin Capital, and Berlin Loan. Businesses can simply choose and apply for the right category of grant. IBB also offers Coaching BONUS, Pro Fit project financing, Transfer BONUS and other programs that provide technological advice.
IBB usually supports Germany-based, more specifically Berlin-based businesses; however, it also offers seminars for entrepreneurs from other countries. Although foreign entrepreneurs are strictly required to be immigrants or from minority groups, IBB still offers a wide range of languages including Polish, Turkish, Russian and Vietnamese. As such, IBB is an attractive source of financing as businesses can apply to any programs that support every phase of company development.
Mac International is one of the most influential awards in Britain, where its winner can showcase his or her works at the MAC Belfast and receive £20,000 (approx. KRW 30.39 million) in prize money.
The 1st MAC International selected 24 artists in total and the winner was Mairead McClean. Her works emphasize that history and memory cannot be trusted, shedding light on past events. The artist uses sound, still cuts, moving images and other physical evidence to revisit and review past events, creating new perspectives. She draws her inspiration from how family history, storytelling and technological development influence our lives.
Another artist worth mentioning is Hong Euyoung. An artist and researcher, she was among one of the 24 nominees in 2014 Mac International. “She collects objets that are common in our everyday life, combines and re-interprets them. Through this process, the relationship between objects and space changes its structure and becomes a more expanded concept. The artist’s interest is focused on dimensional art, which intensifies and expands as it moves into politics or socioeconomics of space,” says art critic Kho Chung Hwan.
Mac International has selected artists from not only Northern Ireland, Britain and Europe, but also the US, Iceland and Brazil.
The Lumen Prize for Digital Art has been granting more than $50,000 in prize money to selected artists. Application is open for two months and any artists can apply regardless of their nationality or gender. But remember, only technology-based artists are eligible – any works related to “technology” are welcome.
The winners of 2017 have in general introduced politically philosophical works. And for the first time in the history of the Lumen Prize, the Gold Award went to interactive artist Thijs Biersteker. His work shows the correlation between people’s use of plastic and resulting environmental issues, or the so-called “plastic soup.” Through his work, he focuses on plastics flowing into the oceans and humans eventually taking them back in as we consume food. Many say his interactive work has blurred the border between science and magic, bringing up a rather serious issue in a more casual, humorous manner to effectively raise people’s awareness. The winner of 2016 Lumen Prize is also very impressive. Italian duo Fabio Giampietro and Alessio De Vecci, the winners of the Gold Award, showed the wall of art falling in their work Hyperplanes of Simultaneity. The duo visualized the relationship between three-dimensional space and the continuity and simultaneity of time, blending traditional painting with innovative technology to create new reality of art.
As such, the winners of the Lumen Prize are at the forefront of contemporary art, incorporating technology into their artistic interests.
NOVA New Media Interactive Art Prize first took off in 2018, co-managed by the Big House Contemporary Art Center in Wuhan and Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation. The Prize aims to encourage young artists and blur the border between art and technology. It also plans to identify new artists every year, in order to rearrange rules on the combination of art and technology.
The winner is granted ¥100,000 (approx. KRW 16.65 million) in Chinese yuan in scholarship and given the opportunity to engage and work in showcasing, media collaboration, academic research and social projects. The appeal of the Prize is that its jurors consist of new media experts from around the world, making it all the more honorable. They include: Cao Fei, new media artist; Martin Honzik, Art Director of Ars Electronica; Huang Xufu, board member of the New Museum in New York; Li Zhenhua, Film Sector Curator at Art Basel Hong Kong; Christiane Paul, Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Margit Rosen, Head of Collections, Archives and Research at ZKM; and Qiu Zhijie, a contemporary artist and the Dean of the School of Experimental Art at Central Academy of Fine Arts. Experts from reputable organizations in Europe, China and the US come together for in-depth discussions. As such, NOVA New Media Interactive Art Prize boasts substantial presence with its selection of jurors and in interactive art.
Established in 2006, the Arte Laguna Prize divides contemporary art into 9 genres, identifies and supports artists. The categories are: painting, sculpture and installation, photographic art, video art and short films, performance, virtual art, digital graphics, land art and urban art. The winners receive grants and opportunities to stage group exhibitions at Arsenale in Venice and galleries around the world. Not only that, they enjoy collaborations with companies in affiliation with Arte Laguna and residency to further grow in their careers. Any artist is free to enter with free choice of themes.
It would take multiple pages to name all the artists who have enjoyed support and grants from Arte Laguna. But to name a few, we have Carlos Martiel, a Cuban artist who took home the Performance prize. Many applauded his emotionally-rich artworks and he once again demonstrated his potential at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. Another group of artists would be Collective Recycle Group, Russian artists who showcased their work at the same Venice Biennale. Gary Chang (Chang Kwok Hung) from Hong Kong is another finalist of the 5th Arte Laguna Prize and has also collaborated with Coca Cola. He has been advancing his career ever since, winning the Sony World Photography Award. The Arte Laguna Prize does not hesitate to support contemporary artists – if you are interested, visit the website and apply before it’s too late!
Since 2004, Flash Forward has been identifying and awarding young, potential photographers from Canada, the US and Britain. Flash Forward first began in an attempt to support rising Canadian photographers and help them demonstrate their competitiveness and talent alongside their European counterparts. However, since 2018, the Program opened its doors to all photographers who are 34 years of age or under, understanding that the globalization of art is in full swing around the world, and that limiting support to photographers from three countries would only hamper the growth the Program and photographers.
The Magenta Foundation names one winner in each of the 4 categories: racial issues, climate and the environment, LGBTQ issues, female identity. However, don’t be discouraged even if your work does not belong to any of the categories; as long as you apply and are selected, your work will be introduced under the main category. Also, one thing worth noting is that starting this year, the winners will be introduced in 5 publications. More than one hundred winners since 2004 will be introduced in one publication, and 4 publications on artist catalogues for each category. Flash Forward hopes that these Book Awards can raise awareness on the artists, at the same time enhancing audience participation, education on art photography and encourage active exchanges among photographers around the world. Flash Forward is the ultimate platform that supports photographers’ works by creating a wide visual language base.