Artist's Innovation Award Guidelines for Application 2017


The Montana Arts Council (MAC) is an agency of state government that is funded by state and federal tax dollars. Artist’s Innovation Awards provide public dollars to support activities taking place within the state and the nation that benefit the citizens of the state of Montana.


Program Description


In order to foster environments where the innovation and creativity of artists are valued and celebrated, this program rewards Montana artists who have demonstrated: 

  • innovation in their work and artwork
  • originality and dedication in their creative pursuits
  • a capacity for self-direction



How We Define Innovation


Innovation is the act of introducing something new or different to further an artist’s vision and practice. This can mean new methods, applications, perspectives, elements, forms, materials, technology integration, project concepts and/or processes that result from study, experimentation or experiences. Your innovation can be from any era of your artistic career. Your innovation can be a personal evolution, or an evolution for the field, or both.  Innovation is applicable to traditional art and contemporary art.  



Awards and Application Deadlines


Up to eight awards of $3,000 each will be distributed for this cycle in the literary arts, performing arts and visual arts combined.

The deadline to submit applications is midnight Mountain Daylight Time, Thursday, October 5, 2017.  Please note that agency staff is only available to answer questions and provide technical support until 5:00 pm.

Hard-copy applications will not be accepted.  You must apply online.  If you do not have reasonable access to a computer or high-speed connection or have other technology challenges, please contact Kristin Han Burgoyne (406) 444-­6449 for assistance before Friday, September 8, 2017.





  • Artistic innovation and creativity in completed artworks or collaborations.
  • Artistic excellence and professionalism.
  • A skillfully prepared online grant application. Only the information and artwork samples submitted in the application will be considered, so artwork samples should be high-quality and narrative answers should be articulate and complete.  



Award Expectation


In order to promote the connection between the arts and innovation, applicants will be required to undertake a simple activity with low or no cost to the artist.  This activity is to be conducted during the grant period (January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018) that will convey the artist's innovative work and artwork (and convey MAC’s sponsorship of the award) to other Montanans.

This activity can be a session to which the public – or a specific group of Montanans – is invited, or a local workshop, a reading or performance, a lecture or demonstration, etc. It could be an activity scheduled online, or at a school, a service organization or library, for instance, or as part of some ongoing series of events. The activity can involve other artists and/or organizations. Also, it can be something that was previously planned, as long as it takes place within the grant period.





  • Applications will be accepted from artists seriously pursuing their art career, whether they are emerging, mid­career or established artists, or a group of collaborating artists. However, high school students and degree­seeking college students (graduate or undergraduate) are not eligible to apply.
  • Artists who have received a prior year Artist’s Innovation Award are not eligible to apply.
  • Artists who have received MAC fellowship awards or Strategic Investment Grants are eligible to apply for this award.
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, U.S. citizens, and residents of Montana. (Residency requires having lived in Montana for at least one full year prior to the application deadline.)
  • Artists may apply only once per category, per cycle. There are no restrictions on how this money is used. However, there is a post­award activity requirement (see the Award Expectation information above).
  • Applicants will sign a release stating their work may be used as part of the promotion of the arts campaigns by the arts council or the state’s tourism or other bureaus to promote the arts of Montana. Samples may be used in social networking, DVDs, print, powerpoint, podcasts, video, legislative hearings, presentations to tourism officials, educators, service clubs, or other formats and technologies as needed by the Montana Arts Council.  Images/video may be shown at the Montana Art Gallery Director’s Association (MAGDA) meeting or other state, regional or national venues.  Applicants will include the accompanying photo credits and permission to reprint in the box below certifying that all appropriate release rights were obtained, and, where applicable, that all appropriate photo rights and permissions have been obtained with regard to images of children's faces associated with recognizable landmarks.
  • Group applicants are eligible for only one award. Each individual artist within the group must consent to being part of the application; however, only one person should act as the lead applicant to fill out the application.
  • Artists may submit one application in each of the three Artist’s Innovation Awards categories (visual arts, literary arts and performing arts) in this cycle. (Separate application fees are required for each submission and an artist cannot win more than one award.) Within each category, artists applying as part of a group are not eligible to also apply as individual artists.
  • Applicants whose work bridges visual arts, performing and/or literary arts must decide whether their work is primarily visual, performance or literary in content or impact. If you choose to submit applications in more than one category, you must provide different narrative answers and articulate your innovation as it relates to each particular category.
  • Montana Arts Council staff or members of its current governing body, or anyone connected to them by one degree of relationship ­by blood, marriage or shared household ­are not eligible to apply for this award.


If selected for an Award, you will:

  • Be notified by December 22, 2017.
  • Receive a contract and final report form. Sign and return the contract immediately, which also verifies your eligibility.
  • Upon MAC’s receipt and processing of your signed contract, receive a check for $2,500 (the remaining $500 will be issued upon receipt of your final report).
  • Provide your brief biography (1/2 page), a headshot (300 dpi and 2”x4” or larger) and written permission to reproduce artwork images for MAC to use for publicity and informational purposes within 14 days of the award notice. (Re: submission of any images of children’s faces associated with recognizable landmarks, you must provide all appropriate photo rights and permissions.)
  • Notify MAC staff 30 days prior to your public activity.
  • Complete and return the final report no later than December 31, 2018, and be issued a check for the remaining $500.



Selection and Juries


The decision for selecting awardees is based on finished artwork. Only the information and uploads submitted in the application will be considered. Applicants will be identified by name and all information submitted is public information.

Juries are comprised of three to five arts professionals who have expertise in the arts disciplines under consideration and are selected by the members of the Montana Arts Council. Additional jurors may include legislators and/or Governor’s staff. All jurors’ decisions are forwarded as recommendations, and the final allocation of all awards will be made by the members of the Montana Arts Council.

All Montana Arts Council grant review meetings are open to the public. Applicants are requested to refrain from contacting panel members and council members, individually or as a group, before or during the review process.  Applicants attending the review process as observers will not be allowed to speak, thereby not having an unfair advantage over those who are not in attendance.



What you will Need for the Application


(Items makred with a * are required)

Following are the sections you will find in the application form. The application is available here. 

Discipline *

  • Artists are asked to define their discipline.

Artist Statement *

  • Type or copy/paste your statement in the box below.  Your artist statement should give the panel background information but should NOT duplicate information about the innovative processes you will be describing in question 3.  (Approximately 500 words, less than one page)

Innovation *

  • Regarding your work and artwork, describe the innovations you have made in your art and/or your process, and how the artwork samples you submitted illustrate the evolution of your work. Do not repeat the information provided in your artist statement.  (Approximately 600 words or one page)

Public Activity *

  • Regarding public access to your work and artwork, describe a low-cost or no-cost activity to take place during the grant period that will convey your innovative work and artistry to other Montanans.

Support Materials

  • If you are submitting materials other than samples of your art, number and list all items in the box below.  Be sure to label these as support material after uploading. (see below for more information on this option)

Certification Checkboxes *

  • Applicants will verify and confirm eligibility stated in these guidelines in this section of the application form.

Bio/Resume Upload *

  • A bio/resume document must be included as an upload.  Please convert documents into pdf files.

Artwork Samples *

Artwork samples should help illustrate your narrative responses. Applicants are encouraged to provide samples that illustrate the evolution of their artwork – early, middle, present and in­progress – demonstrating innovation in the process. (However, keep in mind that the award is ultimately based on finished artwork.) For those performing artists who do not have media samples of past works or works­in­progress, photos with descriptions can be submitted.

If a website is part of your innovation, please use screen shots or demo video.  Panelists will not review live websites as part of an application.

  • Visual arts applicants must submit a minimum of ten (10) quality digital images or media clips of their artwork. Artists may include artwork samples in any combination of: basic images or media footage, details, alternate views, their art­making process and working with others.  If you don't submit support material (see below) you may submit up to ten (10) additional artwork samples.  Artwork samples and optional support material combined may not exceed 20 uploads.
  • Performing arts applicants may submit a maximum of twelve (12) minutes total of quality media (audio and/or visual) samples in any combination of up to ten uploads total. Performing arts applicants can submit an individual photo as a sample of past work. Each photo must have a brief description and the total of uploaded work samples in any format cannot exceed ten.
  • Poets may submit up to twelve (12) poems that total a maximum of twelve pages. A page is the equivalent of an 8½” X 11” sheet of paper with 12 point or larger size type. Poems must be combined for upload as one PDF document.
  • Prose writers may submit up to twenty-five (25) pages total in any combination of literary samples. Samples must be combined for upload as one PDF document.
  • Playwrights may submit up to forty pages in playwright format.

Artists combining genres (for example, combining poetry and prose) may submit up to twenty-five (25) pages total in any combination of literary samples. Samples must be combined for upload as one PDF document.

Optional Support Material

  • Applicants may choose to submit up to ten (10) optional one-page support materials such as press coverage, articles published about the work, critiques, letters of support, etc. Each optional support material must be no more than one page in size and in PDF format.



Application and Fees


This grant application is administered by SlideRoom.com, an online system requiring a high­speed internet connection.  

A $10 processing fee must be paid at the time the application is submitted online. This can be done by credit or debit card. Applicants applying as a group pay only one fee per application, not per artist.



Things You Should Know About Online Technology


  • Give yourself plenty of time to begin your online application in case you need to access the site’s technical services for assistance in converting or uploading files. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE FINAL WEEK to begin this online process.
  • If you already have an account with slideroom.com please do not create a new one.  There is a “Forgot password” link on the sign in page.  You may already have an account if you have applied for Artist’s Innovation Awards or Percent for Art projects.
  • User guides, instructions and a detailed Frequently Asked Questions section are available at https://support.slideroom.com/.
  • Please type your narrative answers in a word processing document and then cut-n-paste into the application form.  There have been instances of the web application crashing and taking narrative answers with it.  Always keep a word processing document backup. 
  • Narrative fields have a character count at the bottom.  Punctuation and spacing are included in the count.
  • Convert word processing documents to .pdf files before uploading them to maintain formatting. To convert a file to pdf you have several options.  If you have Adobe (or similar) software or a newer version of some word processing programs you may be able to select “print” and then select the “pdf” option in the menu (instead of the printer you usually use).  There are also several free software options on the internet.  MAC does not recommend any particular software but mycutepdf.com is an example of free software for creating pdf’s.  If you are struggling with this technology please contact MAC staff (kburgoyne@mt.gov) as early as possible and we will try to assist you.  During the final days before the deadline many applicants are requesting assistance.  The earlier you can submit your requests the more likely someone on staff will be able to assist you before the deadline.
  • If you want to include a document that is only available in hard copy and you have access to a scanner, you can scan the document, save the file, and upload it to the application form.  You can also contact staff for assistance.
  • If at all possible, please follow a naming convention that identifies the applicant and the document.  (example: Burgoyne_Kristin_resume.pdf  or Burgoyne_Poem1.pdf).   There is a maximum of 72 characters file name limit and the name should NOT contain spaces or characters other than letters, numbers, underscores and hyphens.



Contact and Accessibility


For questions, concerns or technical assistance, or to request a large-print or alternate format application, please contact Kristin Han Burgoyne, Grants and Database Director & Accessibility Coordinator, kburgoyne@mt.gov or 406-444-6449. 
For innovation questions, contact Cinda Holt, Business Development Specialist, cholt@mt.gov or 406-777-0090. 
General Office Contact: Montana Arts Council, mac@mt.gov or 406-444-6430.



Frequently Asked Questions


What do I do if I’m terrified of technology? Ask for help.  The staff at the Montana Arts Council is more than happy to help you create pdf files, marry/merge pdf files, and scan artwork.  Call or email Kristin. (444-6449 or kburgoyne@mt.gov)  

Can I charge admission for my low cost activity? Yes. 
Do my work samples need to be within a certain time frame? No.  Your work samples along with your narrative response about innovation should provide a complete picture of the evolution of your innovation regardless of time frame. 

I’m still struggling with the concept of innovation; can you help? Innovation is the embodiment, combination, or synthesis of knowledge in original, relevant, valued new products, processes or services. For artists (or a group of artists), it can mean someone who accomplishes any or all of the following: 

  • Makes a significant shift in artwork that exhibits growth, expansion, depth and/or change to the artistic journey at any point in the artist’s career. This can be within the entire field or region of an artistic discipline or within one artist’s own personal field of practice and career. 
  • Has made a definitive and unusual impact and/or created a body of work that actually helped his/her art form to move forward in a new way. This can mean an entirely new kind of artistry or finding new uses and applications of familiar or traditional forms. 
  • Purposely setting new challenges and finding many new ways into an artwork.
  • Is using techniques and/or technologies that deviate from the usual creative process within their art form. 
  • Effectively markets or distributes their art in ways that are unusual, creative or surprising. 
  • Uses his/her art in ways that actively impact their community and/or a world beyond their normal scope, tackling issues like social activism, racial justice, youth and minority empowerment, health and healing, aging, international relations, etc. 
  • Has overcome large setbacks (personal and/or professional) in an especially creative and innovative way as an artist, and has influenced peers by doing so.


Innovation in literature can include:

  • Moving from longer stories to short stories.
  • Moving from short stories to really short stories. 
  • A poet writing stories
  • A novelist writing poems
  • Combining different approaches  such as mingling non-fiction and fiction, prose and poetry.
  • Writing that is stylistically different from past work.
  • Changing modes and genres
  • New use of a familiar form (like projecting graffiti poetry on to buildings).
  • Revealing a "new voice" in each piece of work.
  • Creating a unique market or marketing technique online


You are also entitled to define innovation for yourself!


Quoteable Quotes on Innovation

  • "Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things." Theodore Levitt
  • "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought." Albert von Szent-Gyorgy
  • "To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance…" Albert Einstein
  • "There's a way to do it better—find it." Thomas Edison
  • "The innovation point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams." W. Arthur Porter 


For a PDF version of the application, click here. 






Montana Arts Council | 830 N. Warren Street, Helena, MT 59601 | P.O. Box 202201, Helena, MT 59620-2201 | P: (406) 444-6430 | F: (406) 444-6548 | mac@mt.gov 

"State of the Arts" Newspaper | eNewsMontana's Arts Calendar | Montana's Cultural Treasures Guide

The Montana Arts Council is funded by the State of Montana and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
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