NYSCA Independent Projects

NYSCA Architecture + Design Independent Projects FAQ

The Architecture + Design Program of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) awards project grants for professionals in the architecture, design, and historic preservation fields through its Independent Projects category. Please use the answers to some commonly asked questions below to guide you as you consider your application.

I am an artist. Am I eligible for this program?

No. The Architecture + Design Independent Projects program supports professionals in design and its subfields. If you are an artist, whether or not your work references the built environment, you should instead consider applying through another NYSCA program. Please note that the League does not sponsor applicants in other programs.

How much can I request from NYSCA? How should I plan my budget?

NYSCA offers grants of up to $10,000, plus a $750 administrative fee to the sponsoring organization. The League expects all applicants to request the full $10,000; requesting less will not increase your chances for funding and does not provide any strategic benefit to you. Your budget need not be granular. Instead, you should use it to clearly describe the boundaries of your project and ensure that your proposal meets all the eligibility requirements and expectations of the grant. If your project spans multiple years, your budget should effectively outline how you plan to use your funds for work during the single year of your grant period. Your overall project budget may be greater than $10,000. In this case, you must make clear how you plan to allocate your $10,000 NYSCA grant and any outside sources of funding you will use to successfully realize your project.

Can I use NYSCA funds to support my own time?

Yes. Budgeting for time spent researching and realizing your project is a perfectly acceptable use of NYSCA funds. Depending on how you choose to describe your project budget and allocate your funding, this could be part or all of your request.

I am working on a book, but I don't yet have a publisher. Will my project be competitive?

If publishing a book is at the core of your proposal but you have never published before and do not have an agreement with a publisher, your application will be less compelling. It is not required to have a confirmed publisher for a book proposal, but having one will demonstrate a greater likelihood of success, especially if you intend to publish during your grant period. If you have never published before, consider limiting the scope of your project to an article or chapter. You may be ahead of yourself in seeking to publish.

I want to mount an exhibition of my work, but I have never done this before. Will this be competitive?

Panelists look at your experience as part of their assessment. If you have never curated an exhibition before and have no venue, the panel has no evidence that you are able to meet your goal. You might ask yourself: is an exhibition the only way to make your project accessible to your audience? What is the right format? Are you better able to make your case with another form of presentation where you have some background experience? If you are proposing an exhibition, having a commitment from a site or host organization will make your proposal more persuasive. Remember that NYSCA funds cannot be used to support exhibitions outside of New York State.

I am requesting sponsorship from more than one organization to increase my chances. Is this acceptable?

No. You can only submit one NYSCA application per grant cycle, and you may have no more than one sponsoring organization. Additionally, sponsors do a tremendous amount of work to submit an application on your behalf—submitting to multiple organizations unnecessarily creates extra work.

My project explores a topic that is not New York-based. Is this acceptable?

As long as you are not using NYSCA funds for out-of-state travel expenses, and as long as you effectively demonstrate the accessibility and value of your project to the public of New York State, your topic is not required to specifically address New York.

I am hiring others to assist with my project. Is this acceptable? What documents should I include?

You can use NYSCA funds to compensate the support, consultation, and labor of others. Core applicants and essential collaborators should supply their 1-page résumé and must each provide 2 unique documents proving their New York State residency. Nonessential collaborators do not need to submit documentation. Remember that NYSCA funds are sourced from the public and they should not be used to support out-of-state labor or activities. If your project requires such an out-of-state component, you must make clear in your budget that it is being supported by non-NYSCA funding only. Always consider the optics of your proposal: is there a potential conflict of interest in the collaborators you are compensating with NYSCA funds? For example, identifying your collaborators as students (particularly out-of-state students) is different, and appears different to panelists as well as to the New York public, than if they are simply support staff who happen to be students. Always be mindful of the way you frame your application and budget whenever there is any potential for confusion.

How important are word, page, and character limits? What do these limits mean?

Whenever a limit is included in the application instructions, it is a non-negotiable hard limit. NYSCA staff and panelists will not consider overages and reserve the right to reject an application that exceeds the instructed limits. Furthermore, NYSCA uses online grant portals that automatically enforce limits; neither NYSCA staff nor the League has any ability or intention to override this feature. Word and character counts can easily be found within Microsoft Word and other common software. Character counts always include spaces, punctuation, numbers, etc.—anything that is typed. Page limits are determined using the font, point size, line spacing, and margin specifications as laid out in the application instructions. Failure to follow these limits is the most avoidable reason your application may be rejected, so it is always in your best interest to follow them exactly!