Funder FAQ: Flintridge Foundation


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What is the Flintridge Foundation?
Flintridge Foundation is a family foundation based in Pasadena, California. The foundation awarded its first grants in 1986 and established the Awards for Visual Artists in 1997. Our grantmaking (nearly $1.7 million annually) is concentrated in four areas: Visual Arts (through the Awards for Visual Artists program), Theater, Conservation, and Community Services. Each of these programs has a specific focus and is directed to a particular region. The biennial Flintridge Foundation Awards honor the contributions of mature visual artists who live and work in California, Oregon, and Washington.

How, when and why did the foundation come into being?
The foundation was created through the estates of Francis and Louisa Moseley in 1985. The Moseleys lived in Southern California. Francis Moseley was an inventor and industrialist who had numerous patents to his credit, particularly in the fields of air navigation and machine control. Louisa Moseley was a watercolorist who exhibited frequently in the area.

The Moseleys’ four children formed the initial board of directors, and Flintridge reflects their collective cultural and community interests and environmental concerns. The core vision of the foundation is a commitment to nurture the independent creative voice in all human endeavors, a conviction that characterized the lives of Francis and Louisa Moseley.

The mission of the Flintridge Foundation is...?
to nourish individualism, honor diversity in society and nature, support creativity, and promote just and cooperative partnerships so that human beings may evolve more effectively toward wholeness and the natural environment toward sustainability.

Who makes up the Flintridge Foundation?
A nine-member board of directors governs Flintridge and meets three times a year. Currently, five of the members are children or grandchildren of the founders. Non-family members who serve on the board are selected because they have special skills and interests that relate to the foundation’s programs. At this time, 10 full-time staff members implement the board’s decisions, administer the four programs, manage the finances, and conduct communications activities.

What are the awards program areas?
There is only one awards program—the Flintridge Awards for Visual Artists. The foundation also gives grants to small- to mid-sized ensemble theater companies in California, Oregon, and Washington and to environmental conservation groups in the Pacific Northwest, and provides organizational development assistance to community-based nonprofit organizations that serve children and youth in Northwest Pasadena and Altadena.

Your Visual Artist Awards go primarily to painters, printmakers, sculptors, and photographers. In what ways do film and video artists qualify for your programs?
Our awards support artists working in fine arts and crafts media, which could include jewelry, ceramics, glass, fiber, multimedia installation, and performance, in addition to the disciplines you mention. Artists may use video and film as elements of sculpture or installations, or they may extend their artistic explorations into single-channel media periodically throughout their career.s The program doesn’t support artists who work primarily in film and video as a single-channel medium.

Can you elaborate on the type of media work which would fall within your Visual Artists guidelines?
Most of the media work that we see is incorporated into installations or sculpture. For instance, in Chartres Bleu (1986-1997), Paul Kos uses 27 monitors to create a video stained-glass window where each “pane” is an image from a window in Chartres cathedral. The light of a single day transpires in 12 video minutes.

Suzanne Lacy uses video in a work called Expectations, a project she created in 1992 in residence at the Capp Street Projects in San Francisco. She worked for six weeks with a class of pregnant and parenting teenagers, and out of that experience created an installation of a giant crib. Douglas Hall often incorporates video as projections on walls within an installation with sculptural and electronic elements. Lynn Hershman has been exploring new technologies since the 1970s, and many of her works incorporating digital tools have been interactive, such as the videodisc Lorna (1979) or Room of One’s Own (1993).

What percentage of your budget goes to individual visual artists?
The Visual Arts program receives 22.5 percent of the foundation’s annual budget of nearly $1.7 million.

What is the average size of a grant?
The Awards for Visual Artists grant is $25,000. Grants to ensemble theater companies and conservation organizations range from $5,000-$30,000.

How many visual artist awards are given out per year? What is the total dollar amount awarded annually?
Twelve awards of $25,000 each are given out every two years for a total of $300,000 biennially.

How many visual artist applications do you get on average per year?
We received more than 1,000 applications for the 2001-2002 cycle. Approximately one out of 85 applicants will receive an award, a small percentage of which incorporate media.

Do the awards have designated use (i.e., production of projects, general living expenses, etc.)?
No, the award funds carry no restrictions. Our only stipulation, which is also an IRS requirement, is that each awardee submit a final report on how the funds were used.

What are the restrictions on applicants’ qualifications (e.g., geographic region, ethnicity, medium, etc.)
Applicants must live in California, Oregon, or Washington at least nine months per year, for the last three years to the present. Six artists from California and six artists from Oregon/Washington are selected by two separate regional panels of art professionals.

The panelists base the awards selection on the criteria of high artistic merit and maturity of the applicant’s work as demonstrated by the visual documentation submitted (i.e., slides and videotape). The awards are intended to encourage artists who have not received broad national exposure or renown for their accomplishments. There are no quotas regarding visual arts disciplines, mediums, or artistic styles. Artists working in fine arts, crafts media, performance, and media work that is based in the visual arts traditions are eligible. But dance, theater, and independent film and video are not eligible.

How do you define a “mature artist”?
Maturity is based on the level of serious continued artistic exploration and the development of a distinctive artistic voice that can be identified in the artists’ work dating back 20-plus years. The trajectory of this work must show the deepening of ideas, skills, and creativity through the artists’ lines of investigation.

Why did Flintridge decide to fund this level of artists in particular?
Flintridge noticed that in the visual arts field, mature artists did not have many grant opportunities; the majority of grants focus on emerging artists. Filling this gap fit nicely with our values, because the foundation values the long-term commitment and dedication to creativity. Making art is a life choice, and we honor the artist’s choice and life through our program.

Are there time-frame restrictions within which the award must be used?
No, but the final report requested at the end of the second grant year requires artists to describe how they used the funds.

Is it correct to assume your awards are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
Yes. An individual may receive an award only once.

Can applicants re-apply if denied?
Yes. In fact, we encourage artists to re-apply as the selection panels change each cycle.

Name some of the better-known artists you have funded. What have been the exhibition paths of some of those projects?
Ideal candidates do not have a high level of recognition for their accomplishments; the awards are intended to encourage artists who have not received solo exhibitions at major national museums, who have not received well-distributed monographs, acclaimed national grants, or other means of increasing exposure or creating renown. With that said, our past recipients include Chris Burden, Nancy Rubins, Betye Saar, David Ireland, Larry Sultan, Douglas Hall, and Suzanne Lacy, among others.

Explain your funding cycle and deadlines.
The Awards for Visual Artists is a biennial program. The deadline for entries for our 2001/2002 cycle was in April and the winners will be announced in October. Our next application cycle begins in 2003. We will be happy to notify artists when the 2003 application form is available. Artists should mail their contact information (name, address, telephone and fax numbers, email address) to us or email us at: FFAVA@JLMoseleyCo.com

Who makes award decisions? Can you name past panelists?
Two independent panels of artists and art professionals select the awardees. One panel chooses the California awardees, the other, the Oregon/Washington awardees. Previous panelists include: Anne Ayres, director of exhibitions, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles; Armando Rascón, director, Terrain Gallery, San Francisco; Jake Seniuk, artist/executive director, Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, Port Angeles; Gail Tremblay, artist/professor, Evergreen State University, Olympia; and Christopher Rauschenberg, artist/co-founder, Blue Sky Gallery, Portland.

Tell us about your review process.
The panelists meet for about three days and arrive at the award decisions by consensus.

Who are the Program Officers?
Pam Wolkoff, director of programs, arts, and conservation and Angie Kim, program associate, fine arts.

What are the most common mistakes applicants make?
Not following the directions. Since we show 20,000 slides to the panelists in the course of a few days, it really helps when the artists have followed the directions about putting their slides in chronological order. Since staff has to read information on 15,000 slides in the dark, it really helps when the slide scripts are typed and legible.

What advice do you have for media artists in putting forth a strong application?
Artists should pick slides and then preview them by projector. If possible, they should ask a friend to view them too. And they should put themselves in the position of the panelists and ask, “Did I choose the best slides to represent my best work? Does the work read well in these slides? What impact would these slides have on someone who does not know my work? Does my application meet Flintridge Foundation’s criteria—does it show a deepening of ideas, skills, and creativity, and is the maturity of my work evident?”

What would people most be surprised to learn about the Flintridge Foundation and/or its founders?
That Flintridge values creativity and seeks it in each of our program areas. Several of our board members are practicing visual artists, so they have a profound respect for and very personal understanding of what it means to pursue artmaking as a life choice. We also have an architect, a film producer, and a theater artist on our board.

What distinguishes Flintridge from other funders?
Flintridge is one of the few private funders making grants to individuals. When we started the program, there were about 30 foundations in the country with individual artist programs. Although this number has grown, Flintridge is still one of the few private foundations that offers an open, democratic application system, instead of a nominations process.

Other foundations or grantmaking organizations you admire and why.
The Durfee Foundation in Los Angeles. They allow for truly creative approaches to grantmaking, and they have wonderful programs that allow people to dream, and that’s rare.

Famous last words:
Artists don’t realize how powerful their opinions are, but the Flintridge board listens carefully to artists and considers their thoughts about how we can improve our programs. That’s one reason we have an artist advisory group (Norie Sato, James Lavadour, Ann Chamberlain) to help us.

Very few artists contact Flintridge to tell us what they think about our awards program, but when they do we often learn something new that we might incorporate into future program decisions.