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Empowering Artists for Social Change: Interchange Applications Close April 15

By Elizabeth Snell

Male-presenting individual with dark skin hands a female-presenting individual with dark skin a plant over a fence in a vibrant green outdoor setting.

Program includes mentorship and individual practice-based grants of $25K


Applications are open now for Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA)’s Interchange, a program empowering individual artists dedicated to fostering social change in their communities. Made possible by the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, this initiative will award $25,000 practice-based fellowships to 16 regional artists, providing vital resources for their socially engaged creative practices. 

Individual artists residing in M-AAA’s six-state region of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas are invited to apply.

Unlike many other grant programs, practice-based grants are not specific to one art project, but rather to the artist’s overall creative practice, acknowledging the importance of experimentation, exploration, and the artistic process. Practice-based grants offer the freedom to push boundaries, take creative risks, and explore uncharted territories without a predefined project or expectations.

“Investing in artists through practice-based grants is more than a financial contribution; it’s an acknowledgment of the essential nature of creativity,” says Diane Scott, director of M-AAA’s Artist Services. “By recognizing and nurturing the artistic journey rather than just the destination, forward-thinking funders like the Mellon Foundation play a vital role in supporting artists’ well-being. This approach helps ensure that artists, engaged in critical work within their communities, receive the support they deserve, valuing their contributions to the cultural landscape.”


What is social practice?

Recognizing that there are a broad array of definitions and distinctions in the field commonly referred to as social and civic practice, Interchange uses the following broad definitions: 

  • a current and ongoing artistic practice that includes working with communities (defined by geography or characteristics) to make change
  • a creative practice that responds to social issues, challenges, and opportunities; and/or 
  • a creative practice characterized by processes and products directly linked to their intended social impact.  

In addition to the $25,000 funding, grantees participate in professional development experiences, gain access to a peer network, and receive one-on-one mentoring— reinforcing the artists’ impact on societal change.


Apply now

For comprehensive application guidelines and to submit your application, please visit https://interchangeartistgrant.art/apply/. The application deadline is Monday, April 15, 2024, at 5:00 pm CST.

Want to demystify the grant process?

Free information sessions will be held virtually on February 22 and March 14, from noon to 1:00 pm. Interested artists may RSVP online.


About Interchange

The Interchange program, rooted in M-AAA’s commitment to nurturing the cultural fabric of communities across the heartland, acknowledges the pivotal role individual artists play as catalysts for change and community resilience. Artists, with their ability to navigate diverse perspectives and address civic challenges, emerge as connectors capable of inspiring dialogue and activating neighborhoods.

Since its inception in 2019, Interchange has awarded two cohorts, totaling 32 artists across various communities in the region. The upcoming third cohort with renewed awards totaling $400,000 from the Mellon Foundation continues the program’s mission to support individual artists with impactful experience in socially engaged creative work. 


About Mellon Foundation

The Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.


Visit the Interchange website to learn more about past awardees and for the full application guidelines.

FY21 Interchange grantee Ryan Tenney at Sankara Farm in Kansas City, Missouri, with Angela Davis JohnsonArtist Peer Facilitator. Photography by Amanda Julia Steinback.