General Operation Support for Artists

General Operating Support for Artists (GOSA) provides grants for artists to work toward larger, self-identified goals in their art practice. This funding is unrestricted, meaning artists can use the funds to support their goals however they need. This program includes a cohort community of current grantees, with meetings and learning opportunities that are focused on the grantees’ needs. Grant funding could support things such as the ability to set aside time to work on art making; art materials; space rental; technology; paying collaborators; research and experimentation; marketing; documentation; and more. Each year, three artists will be selected for this program, for a total of nine artists receiving yearly grants at any given time.

  • Award Amount: $6,000 per year, for three years.
  • Who can apply: Artists that live in Rhode Island.
  • What can be funded: Unrestricted funds for artists to support their art practice.

Click here to read Information for First-Time Applicants or download the pdf.

The deadline to apply for the General Operating Support for Artists grant is 11:59 p.m. on July 1. If a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will be 11:59 p.m. on the next business day. Late or incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Note that the application portal closes at 11:59 p.m. You must hit submit before that time for your application to be considered.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Not currently be in an arts degree seeking program or attending high school full time.
  • Have been domiciled in Rhode Island for at least two years at the time of application. This means your home in Rhode Island is your primary residence, and is the address you use for legal forms, state income taxes, car registration, driver’s license or state issued identification, and voter registration regardless of whether you own or rent your home.
  • Be a legal resident of the United States with a tax identification number (either Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number- ITIN). This includes refugees, immigrants and temporary residents. This does not include people in the country on a tourist visa.
  • Not be a staff member or council member of RISCA, or an immediate family member of a staff or council member.
  • Be a practicing artist. RISCA defines practicing artist as a person that intentionally creates or practices art in any discipline that:
    • Has sought learning or training in the artistic field from any source, not necessarily in formal academic institutions.
    • Is committed to devoting significant time to artistic activity, as is possible financially.
    • Is or is working towards earning some portion of their income from their art.
    • Disciplines include, but are not limited to musician, painter, poet, choreographer, teaching artist, ceramicist, storyteller, performer, playwright, sculptor, photographer, wampum artist, printmaker, animator, cartoonist, textile and fashion designer, and filmmaker.

Other rules/things to know

  • This grant award in this category is $6,000 per year for three years, for a total of $18,000. No partial grants will be awarded, meaning you will either receive the full amount you apply for or no funding.
  • Only one application per grant deadline per grant program. An individual may only submit one application per grant deadline to the General Operating Support for Artists program. If you receive a GOSA, you are ineligible to apply for or receive another GOSA for six years.
  • If you receive a grant, you must credit RISCA on all marketing materials. Grants awarded by RISCA are provided by the Rhode Island State General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, on behalf of the residents of Rhode Island. For that reason, awardees must credit RISCA on all printed material where funders and supporters are listed and on all printed programs (see I got a grant award! What do I do now? section for more details).
  • All RISCA grant awards are contingent upon the availability of funds from the Rhode Island State General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. Sometimes delays in passing the state budget will delay grant award notifications and processing of grant payments. We can’t award grants if our funding has not been approved.
  • Grant applications are considered on a competitive basis. Your application may meet all the eligibility criteria and be incredibly meaningful. But remember that there are approximately 100-120 other applications in an application cycle that are also amazing! With so many high-quality applications, panels always wish to award more grant awards than they have funding for.
  • You must complete a yearly report to receive your next grant payment.
  • If you receive this grant, you are ineligible for the Opportunity Grant, Community Engaged Grant, Make Art Grant, Folk Arts Fellowship or Folk Arts Apprenticeship during your funding period.
  • You must continue to be a resident of Rhode Island for the full grant period. If you move out of state for any reason during your three-year funding period, you will not receive any of the remaining grant award payments. You will not have to repay previous grant payments.

The General Operating Support for Artists is unrestricted funding. We ask and expect you to spend the funds in a way that helps you advance your art practice and your art career, in alignment with your definition of success in your application. However there still many things your grant awards cannot be used for. Because we grant out money from the National Endowment for the Arts, we are obligated to follow these rules set forth by them. If you have any questions about these rules, contact Mollie Flanagan, Individual Artists Program Director. Expenses that cannot be covered by your grant award:

  • Capital projects. The construction or renovation of buildings or additions to buildings, with the exception of accessibility improvements to cultural facilities.
  • Any fundraising expenses such as creating rewards for a Kickstarter or hosting a fundraising event for any purpose.
  • Prizes and awards. You cannot spend funds on a prize or award for another event/person/organization.
  • Alcohol and some Hospitality Expenses. Purchase of alcohol with grant funds is strictly prohibited. Please contact Mollie Flanagan, Individual Artists Program Director, with specific questions.
  • Expenses outside of award period. Your grant award can’t be used to cover expenses incurred or activities occurring of the funding period.
  • Regranting funds. You may not use these grant funds to support grants to other artists or organizations through an application or award process.
  • Undergraduate or graduate school activities. Activities which are part of a graduate or undergraduate degree program, or for which academic credit is received.
  • Religious activities. Use of funds to proselytize or promote religious activities, or for activities which take place as part of a religious service is prohibited.

The three review criteria

Artist Impact and Growth (50%)

  • This grant will positively impact the applicant’s artistic practice and/or career in clearly identified ways.
  • The work samples provided are relevant, cohesive, and speak to the potential of the artist to advance in their career.
  • Success is clearly defined by the artist, with specific shorter-term goals that support the artist’s definition of success.

Artistic Vibrancy and Intention (25%)

  • Personal voice, vision and authenticity show in the proposal.
  • Applicant demonstrates a clear understanding of and commitment to their craft, both in look and feel and technical skill.
  • Application and support materials demonstrate a consistency of actions, values, methods and goals.

Community of Practice (25%)

  • This grant will positively impact the artist’s community of practice.
  • The applicant clearly describes their community of practice, and their role within this community.
  • This application supports this artist being an active and productive member of the Cohort and learning community.

You are required to submit

  • Bio/Resume/CV: The artist bio, resume, or cv will need to be submitted as either a word document or PDF. Please submit whichever of the three, or a combination, that you feel best represents you.
  • Letter of Recommendation: A one page letter of recommendation from someone you respect, that speaks to your potential as an artist. The letter should be focused on you as an artist and be in direct relationship with the evaluation criteria. This must be submitted as either a Word document or PDF.
  • Work Samples List: A number list of the samples you are submitting, which includes title, year, and medium. It may include 1-3 sentences of context about the piece. This must be submitted in the google drive, along with the work samples.

You may submit

  • Website: The website will be submitted as a link and should be to the website of either the lead artist applicant or the project.
  • Social Media: You may include up to three artist specific social media profiles, such as Instagram or YouTube. These must be artist/professional accounts, not your personal account. These must be submitted as links.
  • Work Samples: All files must be included in a google drive folder you create, with sharing settings either open to everyone or “anyone with the link.” You may submit a maximum of three of the following:
    • Up to 10 images.
    • Up to 15 minutes of video.
    • Up to 15 minutes of audio.
    • Up to 30 pages of writing.
    • Up to one full manuscript of dramatic writing for performance.

Because RISCA is a state agency granting out taxpayer funds, RISCA staff does not make any funding decisions. Panels of your peers do.

The panel composition and grant review process and is different for General Operating Support for Artists than most other RISCA grants. The grant goes through two stages of panel review. In the first stage, between two and four reviewers will read and score your applications. RISCA staff will identify approximately 20 highest scoring applications, which will move on to the second stage.

In the second stage where awards are decided, the panel is made up of five people:

  • A minimum of two panel members will be BIPOC individuals.
  • Three members of the panel will be Rhode Island residents, two will be from out of state.
  • All panelists will be working professionals in the arts such as artists, curators, faculty members, arts administrators, etc.

RISCA is committed to a peer review process that provides fresh and diverse input from an ever-changing field. In addition, RISCA will consider age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, geography, discipline of arts experience, relationship to arts and culture (e.g., being an artist, arts administrator, or arts enthusiast), and other factors when curating its application review panels. A panelist can serve on a review panel three times over the course of a three years, which encompasses six grant cycles. Panelists cannot serve on a panel in the same grant program during the three-year period. This ensures a changing and diverse array of individuals evaluating our grant applications and guarantees that panels are different every grant cycle.

Serving as a grant panelist is a fantastic way to learn about RISCA’s grantmaking process, as well as how to write grants in general. If you are interested in serving on a grant panel, please fill out this form. We can’t guarantee that we can accommodate your request because of our commitment to panel diversity, but we are always looking for new panelists. Panelists receive a small stipend for their time and expertise.

Decision Making Process

  • STEP 1: panelists are recruited, and panels assembled starting prior to the grant deadline. While this starts prior to the grant deadline, it often continues after the grant deadline once it is clear how many applications have been received, how many are eligible, and how many panels are needed.
  • STEP 2: You submit your application by the grant deadline. Once the application deadlines pass, no alterations or additions may be made to your application. Applications are reviewed by the grant panel based on the contents of your application only.
  • STEP 3: Applications are screened. RISCA staff review each application for completeness and compliance with eligibility and submission requirements. If any issues are detected, the applicant may be contacted or asked to fix their application within a certain number of days.
  • STEP 4: RISCA staff provides orientation and training to panelists. Panelists don’t receive the applications they are to review until they complete a two-part panel training: the first part focuses on implicit bias; the second part focuses on the logistics of being a panelist, including a review of the applications and rubrics.
  • STEP 5: Eligible applications are sent to the panel(s). If more than one panel is needed, applications are randomly assigned to panels using a group randomizer program.
  • STEP 6: The panel(s) review and score their assigned applications. Using the evaluation rubric for the program, panelists have typically between 4-6 weeks to review applications and score each application prior to their in-person panel meeting. We estimate that the panelists spend approximately 30 minutes reading and scoring each application.
  • STEP 7: Panel(s) meet for an all-day Panel Review and make funding recommendations. The panel then meets in person at RISCA offices or via Zoom to discuss each application. Panels typically spend between 10-15 minutes discussing each application. After each discussion, panelists have the option of privately updating their scores. RISCA staff facilitate the discussion, but do not participate in or influence the discussions. RISCA staff take notes during the panel to share with applicants later. At the end of the day, the panel is shown a spreadsheet that displays the applicants and their total panel scores (meaning the combined total of each panelist’s scores on a given application) in descending order. Using their rankings as a guide, panelists make funding recommendations.
  • STEP 8: Panel comments. Based on the panel’s discussion, RISCA staff collate and synthesize panelist feedback into panel comments. These panel comments are provided to every applicant, regardless of whether they are funded.
  • STEP 9: RISCA’s Governing Council reviews and approves panel recommendations.
  • STEP 10: Applicants are notified as to whether or not they have received a grant award! These notifications will typically come in mid to late September.
  • STEP 11: Awardees will thoroughly read and sign their grant award agreements and register with Ocean State Procures (if necessary). We cannot process your grant payment until you are an approved vendor of the State of Rhode Island (by registering with Ocean State Procures) with an approved W-9 form and you have signed your grant agreement form. Once those things are completed, applicants can assume it will take anywhere between 4-8 weeks to receive their grant payment. In many cases, grant funds may not be received prior to the start of a project. Applicants should be aware of this possibility and plan their cash flow accordingly.

Accepting the Grant and Processing the Award Payment

Congratulations! First things first, you will want to sign the grant agreement form and register with Ocean State Procures as soon as possible so we can start processing your grant payment. Once completed, your grant payment may take between 6-10 weeks to receive. Read your Grant Award Email thoroughly, as it will have instructions on how to register with Oceans State Procures and how to upload your W-9 to the state payment system.

Other things you will need to do

  • You must acknowledge RISCA support in a prominent manner in all materials and announcements, both audio and visual, related to the grant program. Grant recipients must also display, in a prominent manner, the RISCA logo in association with that acknowledgment. Further detail can be found at Acknowledging RISCA | RISCA
  • You must submit a brief final grant report to RISCA via the online grant system. All grantees are required to submit a brief final report no later than one month following the grant funding period. For grants awarded at the April 1 deadline, this will be January 31st; for grants awarded at the October 1 deadline, this will be July 31st. You will not be able to apply for another RISCA grant if you have an overdue final report.
  • You must keep records of receipts and expenditures related to the funding. You should be prepared to make your records available to RISCA if requested by RISCA. All grantees are subject to periodic audit or review by RISCA or the State of Rhode Island and must retain fiscal records for a period of seven (7) years following the grant period.
  • You must notify RISCA of any significant changes in your project. Any changes must be reported to RISCA within two (2) months of the change.
  • The grant must be used exclusively for the purposes specified in the Grant Agreement. Any alternative use of funds needs to be cleared by RISCA staff in advance in writing (by email), or the grant funds must be returned.
  • RISCA reserves the right to use any submitted materials for promotional purposes. This includes any text, photographs, audio, or video submitted as part of funded grant applications for limited non-commercial educational or promotional use in publications or other media produced, used or contracted by RISCA including, but not limited to: brochures, invitations, newsletters, postcards, websites, etc.

Ocean State Procures

All grant award recipients need to have an approved vendor profile in the Rhode Island Ocean State Procures (OSP) system. This new online registration system is used by the State of Rhode Island for any vendor of the state, not just those working with or receiving grant awards from RISCA. Use the Vendor Self-Registration Quick Start Guide for complete details on to fully register and create a login to access your secure Vendor Portal at  R.I. Department of Purchases registration. Please note this is a 2-step process.

  1. Create Vendor Profile - After completing Quick Start Guide step 6 “submit registration”, your login credentials and the login link will be emailed to you (with the subject line: “Welcome to WebProcure!”).
  2. Upload W-9 - Once you have registered (including uploading a new W-9) and been approved by OSP, RISCA can process your award payment.

Declining a Grant Award

Before deciding to decline your grant award due to changing circumstances or any other reason, we recommend you reach out to RISCA staff to see if you can accomplish your project with some modifications. If you do decide to decline your award, this is totally fine to do so. It will have no bearing on future grant applications you might submit to RISCA. You will send an email to RISCA staff indicating your desire to decline your award, and they will assist you.

Practicing Artist: A person that intentionally creates or practices art in any discipline that:

  • Has sought learning or training in the artistic field from any source, not necessarily in formal academic institutions.
  • Is committed to devoting significant time to artistic activity, as is possible financially.
  • Is or is working towards earning some portion of their income from their art.
  • Disciplines include, but are not limited to musician, painter, poet, choreographer, teaching artist, ceramicist, storyteller, performer, playwright, sculptor, photographer, wampum artist, printmaker, animator, cartoonist, textile and fashion designer, and filmmaker.

Rhode Island residency: Have been domiciled in Rhode Island for at least one year at the time of application. This means your home in Rhode Island is your primary residence, and is the address you use for legal forms, state income taxes, car registration, driver’s license or state issued id, and voter registration regardless of whether you own or rent your home.

BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Community of Practice: Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. Note that this definition allows for, but does not assume, intentionality: learning can be the reason the community comes together or an incidental outcome of member’s interactions. Not everything called a community is a community of practice. A neighborhood for instance, is often called a community, but is usually not a community of practice. Three characteristics are crucial:

  • The domain: A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Membership therefore implies a commitment to the domain, and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people. (You could belong to the same network as someone and never know it.) The domain is not necessarily something recognized as “expertise” outside the community.
  • The community: In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other; they care about their standing with each other. A website is not a community of practice. Having the same job or the same title does not make for a community of practice unless members interact and learn together. But members of a community of practice do not necessarily work together daily. The Impressionists, for instance, used to meet in cafes and studios to discuss the style of painting they were inventing together. These interactions were essential to making them a community of practice even though they often painted alone.
  • The practice: A community of practice is not merely a community of people who like the same kinds of movies, for instance. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short, a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction. A good conversation with a stranger on an airplane may give you all sorts of interesting insights, but it does not in itself make for a community of practice. The development of a shared practice may be more or less, self-conscious. The “windshield wiper” engineers at an auto manufacturer make a concerted effort to collect and document the tricks and lessons they have learned into a knowledge base. By contrast, nurses who meet regularly for lunch in a hospital cafeteria may not realize that their lunch discussions are one of their main sources of knowledge about how to care for patients. Still, during all these conversations, they have developed a set of stories and cases that have become a shared repertoire for their practice. Source.

Are you ready to apply?

Did you review?

Proceed to Online Application

Mollie Flanagan Photo

Mollie Flanagan
Director of Artist Programs
Read Mollie's bio

Opens: Wed. May 1, 2024
Deadline: Mon. July 1, 2024