A new program for artists in Central Arkansas

Combining money, mentoring, and management the Catalyze program ignites change in the careers of individual artists. A program of Mid-America Arts Alliance made possible through the support of the Windgate Foundation, Catalyze provides practice-based grant funding, professional development, and coaching to artists of all disciplines in central Arkansas.  

Catalyze fellowships of $10,000 are awarded annually to twenty-five artists, who may choose how best to use the funding in support of their creative practices. Grantees actively work under the guidance of Peer Artist Facilitators to formulate their self-determined ideals of success and strategically plan how best to utilize the grant funding to achieve their goals in an amplifying professional development retreat weekend. Ongoing support is provided through one-on-one coaching sessions throughout the following year. Program alumni join future Catalyze cohorts at the professional development retreat weekend to share their experiences and extend their ever-broadening network of peer support.

Applications for the program will open January 9, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. CST, and will close February 24, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. CST,

Questions? Email

Program Objectives

The Catalyze program is designed to ignite the careers of individual artists through money, strategic management, and mentoring.

  • Money: Artists receive $10,000 awards to advance their artistic career. These practice-based grants allow the individual artists to select how best to use the funding in support of their self-determined goals for success. Funds may be used for any purpose that supports the continued development of their creative practice, including but not limited to equipment, travel, studio space, child care, professional services, research, supplies, and contingency savings.
  • Strategic Management: Artists participate in professional development programming to develop, refine, and implement strategic plans for their practices. Artists are asked to independently complete approximately two hours of strategic planning exercises prior to the Catalyze Retreat. Utilizing a dynamic small peer group process, artists will engage in learning, application, and receive peer-based support in small groups of five Catalyze Fellows led by an experienced Artist Peer Facilitator. Small group peer support will continue post-retreat with two 90-minute virtual small group sessions held in the following year.
  • Mentoring: Artists will select from one of more than fifty experienced M-AAA Peer Artist Facilitators for one-on-one mentoring sessions where they can explore specific practice-related questions and receive support.  Artists will have two 50-minute one-on-one sessions in the year following the Catalyze retreat.
Applicant Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for an Catalyze grant, an artist must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age by the application due date.
  • Be a full-time resident of the State of Arkansas and have established a minimum of one-year residency by the application due date in one of the following central Arkansas counties: Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Garland, Grant, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lonoke, Perry, Pope, Prairie, Pulaski, Saline, Van Buren, White, and Yell.
  • Create work in any artistic discipline, including but not limited to dance, film, literary, music, theatre, and visual art.
  • Have a résumé that demonstrates at least three years of engagement in a creative practice prior to the application due date. The creative practice is not required to have taken place during consecutive years. If the applicant’s creative practice was affected or suspended due to COVID-19, the application may reference 2020 or 2021 activities that were canceled or reimagined due to the pandemic. Virtual activities are considered creative practice. The applicant may also choose to list creative practice from a year other than 2020 or 2021. For the purposes of defining eligibility, “three years of engagement” refers to when the applicant began their creative practice independent of activities required in pursuit of an academic degree or other certification.
  • Commit to participating in peer-to-peer strategic planning activities during the grant year, including the Catalyze Retreat at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock, AR, from 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 24, 2023 through 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 25, 2023 (meals and private lodging provided).
  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have non-resident status and provide a valid Social Security Number if selected for funding.
  • Be in good standing with Mid-America Arts Alliance, with no delinquent reports and/or grant documents.
  • Not have received a grant of $1,000 or more through any other M-AAA granting program during its 2023 Fiscal Year (July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023).
  • Not have previously received a Catalyze grant.
  • Not be a currently enrolled student in an undergraduate or graduate program.
Application Requirements
  • Completed online application form
  • Artist Biography (100 words max)
  • Artist Statement (250 words max)
  • Artist Résumé/CV (maximum 3 pages)
  • Narrative responses to the following questions:
    • Creative Practice Evolution: In your own words, explain the evolution of your creative practice over the previous few years. What work have you been pursuing? How has the work evolved? Why has it evolved in that way? Have you faced challenges or constraints in making work? (250-word maximum)
    • Future of Your Creative Practice: Where do you want your creative practice to be in five years? How do you determine and measure success within your practice? (250-word maximum)
    • Fund Use: If awarded a Catalyze Artist Grant, how do you intend to use the funds to further your artistic practice? (250-word maximum)
    • Professional Development: Considering the criteria for this grant, explain how participating in the Catalyze Retreat, learning alongside a dedicated, small group of your peers, accessing one-on-one mentoring sessions with Artist Peer Facilitators, and building a network of regional artists, will be beneficial to the development of your creative practice. What strengths will you bring to share with your peers? (250-word maximum)
  • Up to five artwork samples (images, audio files, video files, literary files, or URLs to audio, video, and/or literary files) (1MB maximum per file)
  • Work Sample Summary (maximum 3 pages)
  • Proof of residence: Arkansas driver’s license, bill from a bank, mortgage company, utility company, credit card company, doctor or hospital, bank statement, property tax bill, current valid homeowner’s or renter’s policy, or motor vehicle insurance card or policy, current valid Arkansas motor vehicle registration, 2021 tax filing (IRS or state of Arkansas) with sensitive information redacted.
Review Criteria

Review of application materials will focus on:

Successful applicants will demonstrate artistic excellence, broadly defined by the practitioners and norms in their discipline, and show a deep commitment to their work. Selected artists will have an active creative practice for a minimum of three years and show motivation to continue and further evolve.

Program Readiness
Selected artists will have the desire to advance their career and deepen their practice, engage in an active strategic management process surrounding their practice, as well as an interest in sharing their work and process as part of a network of artists in a peer learning environment.

Impact of Funding on Practice
Successful applicants will clearly identify the ways in which Catalyze funds will impact their careers and creative practices. These identified impacts should relate to previous challenges and/or desired futures.

Panelist Review Process

Step 1

M-AAA will hire artists and arts professionals to serve as panelists. Working independently, panelists will evaluate each application using the review criteria. Great care is taken to minimize bias. We pay panelists to review implicit bias documents and video, read about our Equity and Diversity work and M-AAA’s Strategic Plan and Values, and affirm this review prior to beginning the panel process.

Panelists are required to comment on each application relative to the review criteria. All applicants will have the opportunity to request the panelists’ feedback upon their receipt of acceptance or rejection.

During the review process, the panelists will carefully consider the review criteria and select a statement for each application:

  • I recommend that this application advances in the selection process.
  • I am unsure, but am inclined to recommend that this application advances in the selection process.
  • I am unsure, but am inclined to recommend that this application does not advance in the selection process.
  • I do not recommend that this application advances in the selection process.

Step 2

Applications with the highest degree of consensus will move onto Step 2. All recommended applications will enter into a lottery process, from which twenty-five grantees will be drawn. These grantees will represent a balanced cohort, including diversity of gender, age, ethnicity, geography, and artistic discipline. There is data that suggests that typical grant review processes tend to favor artists with more resources. The use of the lottery process is a step to address a panel’s subjectivity, risk aversion, and uncritical “hive mind” thinking.

Program Timeline


January 9, 2023, 9:00 a.m. (CST): Online Applications open

February 24, 2023, 5:00 pm. (CST): Online Applications close

January 9–February 24, 2023: Application Support from M-AAA staff

Application Reviews:

February 25–March 1, 2023: M-AAA staff reviews applications for eligibility

March–April 2023: Discipline-Specific Advisory Panel Reviews


May 5, 2023: Applicant notification

July 2023: Applicant feedback provided, available upon request

Grantee Important Dates:

May 2023: Grant agreements and financial forms completed

June 2023: Funding distributed, in one payment

June 24–25, 2023: Catalyze Retreat

September–November 2023: Small Group Session #1 & One-On-One Session #1

January–March 2024: Small Group Session #2 & One-On-One Session #2

June 1, 2024: Final Reports due

M-AAA Policies and Procedures

Grant recipients must comply with the Federal policies and legal requirements, statutes, and regulations as stated in M-AAA’s Assurance of Compliance.

Grant awards are considered income. Grant recipients are responsible for all tax obligations under federal, state, and local laws. M-AAA recommends that all recipients consult a tax accountant or local Internal Revenue Service office with questions or concerns regarding deductions and reporting.

Final Reporting

Upon the completion of the grant cycle, all grantees will be asked to submit a final report. This report will include the following:

  • How did you use your grant funds? What impact did this funding have on your creative practice and career trajectory?
  • What impact did the professional development experiences you participated in as a Catalyze Fellow have on your overall creative practices and career trajectory?
  • Optional: documentation to demonstrate creative practice and career progress
Application Support and Resources

M-AAA Artist Services views the application process as a professional development learning experience. For this reason, the Artist Services team at M-AAA provides extensive application support through one-on-one meetings, email, and grant-writing workshops.

Email Inquiries:

To schedule a time for a one-on-one application support session, use this Calendly link. These twenty-minute sessions will take place throughout the application period on the following days and times:

January 9–February 24, 2023

  • Mondays: noon–1:00 p.m. CST
  • Tuesdays: noon–1:00 p.m. CST and 5–6:00 p.m. CST
  • Wednesdays: noon–1 p.m. CST
  • Thursdays: noon–1 p.m. CST and 5–6:00 p.m. CST
Tips and Troubleshooting

We strongly encourage applicants to access the online application through the Google Chrome browser.

Make sure cookies are enabled

  • On your computer, open Chrome.
  • At the top right, click More. Settings.
  • Under “Privacy and security,” click Site settings.
  • Click Cookies.
  • From here, you can: Turn on cookies: Next to “Blocked,” turn on the switch.

Compose the answers to your narrative questions in a word processing document (i.e., Microsoft word or Google Docs) and then copy and paste answers into the online application form when you are fully satisfied with your responses.

Verify that all files you will be uploading to the online application form (proof of residency, resume/CV, budget, images, literary samples, and work-sample summary) are less than 1 MB in size per attachment.

Carefully verify that you have typed your email address into the online application form correctly. Your email address is how you access your saved application.

As you are working in the online application, save frequently.

Work well in advance of the deadline of February 24, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. CST. If you’re going to have a technical problem, it always happens when the clock is ticking.