What is the history of the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship?

For the past 33 years, NYFA has awarded fellowships of $7,000 to individual originating artists living in New York State and/or Indian Nations located in New York State.

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships are administered with leadership support from New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

How are NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellows selected?

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellows are selected based on their artistic vision and voice presented within their application. Materials are reviewed and voted on by the panelists through elimination rounds, producing a smaller pool for each round. An artist’s advancement is a product of the collective vote of the panel. A single panelist cannot ensure an applicant’s success or failure. The panel’s selection of Fellows and Finalists is reviewed by NYFA’s Artists’ Advisory Committee and by NYFA’s Board of Trustees. Neither the Committee nor the Board reviews the work of applicants or makes any aesthetic judgments. Panelists’ names are kept confidential until the awards are announced.

How many applications are received for the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in each cycle, and how many fellowships are awarded per category?

NYFA receives between 2,000 – 4,000 applications each application cycle. The number of grants awarded is predetermined by the amount of funding available for distribution. The number of awards distributed per discipline category is dependent on the number of applications we receive in each discipline. In 2019, NYFA awarded a total of $661,000 to 98 artists (including three collaborations).

Can I apply for one of the Named Fellowships?

No. In addition to funding we receive from the New York State Council on the Arts, NYFA receives  support from other sources to make grants to individual artists. The Deutsche Bank Fellowship, Geri Ashur Screenwriting Award,* Gregory Millard Fellowship, and Shelley Pinz Fellowship are all selected as part of the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship selection process described in the guidelines. 

*Geri Ashur Screenwriting Award Fellows receive $10,000.

How are panels assembled?

We maintain that the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship be peer reviewed, and that panelists be practicing artists experienced in the discipline they are reviewing. Recommendations for potential panelists come from many sources including: NYFA’s Artists’ Advisory Committee, arts and cultural organizations around New York State and Indian Nations located therein, and suggestions from practicing artists. All potential panelists must receive three recommendations from their field.

NYFA makes every effort to assemble diverse panels, considering genre, gender, ethnicity, cultural background, and geographic location. Applicants may participate in this process by suggesting themselves or others as panel candidates. Each discipline is reviewed by a unique panel, and panelists change every year. Panelists’ names are kept confidential until the awards are announced. 

How is work reviewed?

All applications are peer-reviewed by a panel of artists who are working and active in the field. Application reviews happen over elimination rounds, depending on the discipline and the number of applications received. In the preliminary rounds applicants’ names remain anonymous. These first rounds are silent rounds, and the panel is directed to review only the work samples and any designated support statements as defined by the discipline specific guidelines. All time-based and literary applications are pre-reviewed by the panel off-site before assembling at NYFA for the later rounds. In the later rounds of review, panelists review work samples alongside all support statements, and applicants’ names are shared with panelists. Each discipline has one discussion round before the final silent voting round.

During on-site review, applicants’ work samples are reviewed one at a time, in the order uploaded. The moderator reads aloud the title, date, materials, and dimensions of the first and sixth images, and/or both video/audio work samples. Work samples are projected using a high-quality projector within the review room while simultaneously viewed on panelists’ individual laptops. Audio work samples are reviewed through a surround sound system.

Please read the discipline specific guidelines for more detailed information on how your application will be reviewed.


What are the Eligibility Requirements for applying?

Applicants must be at least 25 years old at the time of the application deadline, and must also be a resident of New York State and/or one of the Indian Nations located in New York State for at least two years prior to the deadline.

Applicants cannot be matriculated in a graduate or undergraduate degree program regardless of their field of study.

Fellowships are not awarded to interpretative artists such as dancers or actors; applicants must be the originators of the work, i.e. choreographers or playwrights.

Recipients of the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship within the past 5 years are ineligible, as well as NYFA employees, members of the NYFA Board of Trustees or Artists Advisory Committee, or immediate family members of any of the above or of a panelist from the current cycle. Artists that have been awarded five NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships receive Emeritus Status and are no longer eligible to apply.

Can I apply if I am taking a class in an unrelated subject towards a degree, or am a student in a degree-granting program that is unrelated to my application?

No. Regardless of your field of study, no matriculated students are allowed to apply for a fellowship.

I was recently awarded at NYSCA grant. Am I eligible to apply for the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship?

Yes. NYSCA grants are separate from the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship. However, if you received a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in any discipline in the last five consecutive years, you are ineligible to apply. Applicants who were named as NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Finalists are eligible to apply.


How do I apply for a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship?

For step-by-step guidance on creating a new application, formatting your Support Materials, and submitting your application, please see our “How to Apply” video.

How do I choose the appropriate category in which to apply?

Ultimately, this decision starts and ends with the applicant: no applications will be disqualified – all applications are seen in the panel review process. However, each individual panel has the ability to choose not to advance applicants to further rounds if they deem the work noncompetitive in the category. Review the guidelines carefully before starting your application.

How do I know if I should apply in the Interdisciplinary Work category?

Apply in the Interdisciplinary Work category if your work samples interweave various mediums and modes of creation together into one piece or body of work. Artists whose work is centered around installation, audience participation, creating immersive experiences, and/or performance are encouraged to apply. However, artists who work in a multidisciplinary practice (i.e. who do sculpture and painting, or video and painting) are encouraged to apply in the disciplines that best represent their work samples (i.e. Painting, Crafts/Sculpture, Video/Film) in order to make for the most competitive application. Ultimately, it is up to the applicant to decide which category they should apply in, as they know their practice best.

How should I choose which of my works to submit?

Choose work that represents your vision as an artist, and that was created in the last five years. Panelists are looking to support an artist’s voice or vision, so applicants should submit work samples that show a strong stylistic presence, voice, or theme . This can be achieved by showing the panel the depth rather than breadth of your work and by showing a sample of something that you do well. When making your work sample selection, narrow it down to focus on one or two bodies of work that relate in some comprehensive way. The job of the work sample is to get you from the first round to the next, so give the panelists enough to understand your work and to peak their interest.

Is there a limit to how long full-length video work samples can be?

Applicants can supply up to 60 minutes of video work as their full-length work sample for Video/Film, and up to 30 minutes for Choreography, Folk/Traditional Arts, and Interdisciplinary Work. For applicants planning to apply in the Digital/Electronic Arts category, a maximum of two 5-minute video excerpts can be supplied. If an applicant’s full-length completed work exceeds these limits, applicants should choose a section of the video work that gives the panelist a sense of the overall scope and trajectory of the video. During later rounds in the review process, panelists will review sections of the full-length work sample. Due to the high volume of applications, panelists are unable to review the entirety of your full-length work samples. However, all 2-minute excerpts (5-minute excerpts for Digital Electronic Arts) will be reviewed in full. Please read the discipline specific guidelines for the category you will be applying in to find out more about film length limits.

What do I do if all of my Video/Film work samples are less than 2 minutes?

For applications accepting video/film work samples, we ask you to submit 1 to 2 full-length work samples, and two corresponding 2-minute excerpts. If all of your work samples are less than 2 minutes, you do not need to submit excerpts for them. Instead, you can submit 4 separate full-length video/film work samples, as long as they are all under 2-3 minutes. Submit two of these video/films as your excerpts, and be sure to note in the descriptions and excerpt explanation that these are full length short films. 

Should I submit a current work which is not yet completed?

We ask applicants to only submit completed work samples in their applications. The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship is not a project grant, and is intended to fund an artist’s vision as displayed across their work. Applicants should not submit project proposals or works they are in the process of completing. However, if your work is ongoing, participatory, or ever-evolving, you are welcome to submit it as a work sample. Please be sure to indicate this in the description section of your work sample.

Can I send published work?

Yes, you may send published work. However, do not include publication and/or production information anywhere on your manuscript in order to preserve the anonymity of your application. You may also have work published in the interim while we review applications. There is no restriction on published or unpublished work. In addition, applying with work samples does not put your materials in the public domain. Panelists are asked to review work samples independent of the artist’s career point, therefore the status of your work’s publication has no bearing on whether you receive a fellowship.

If I work with another artist, how do I apply?

Collaborating artists should apply together under one application. A collaboration is defined as up to three artists who can clearly demonstrate an ongoing collaborative career. Collaborators only need to establish one online account and submit only one application. Should a collaborative application receive an award, the grant will be divided evenly between the collaborating artists. All individual applicants must clearly state their roles and must meet eligibility requirements.

Can I apply in more than one category?

You may apply in up to two different categories per cycle, but you can only receive funding in one. To do so, open one account online then create an application for each category. You should submit separate support materials for each category, however you may use the same work samples for both applications if you choose. Indicate the other category in which you are applying on each application.

Can I receive feedback about my application?

Due to the large number of applicants and time constraints, we regret not being able to give one-on-one feedback about application material. However, each of the discipline specific guidelines has a checklist to help guide applicants on how to avoid common mistakes when applying.

You can also find general feedback and useful tips for creating a strong application here.

What is the minimum size I can upload my images in?

If you are submitting images, each image should be at least 1024 pixels on the longest side and a minimum of 72 dpi. Each image can be no larger than 4MB and must be in either .jpg or .jpeg format.


When are the fellowships announced?

The application cycle typically runs from September to January. All applicants will be notified of final decisions by the end of June of that years’ discipline cycle. Notifications are sent to the emails submitted within the application. Official announcements are made in July, and the names of all Fellows and the panelists who selected them will then be listed online at www.nyfa.org. In 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19, the notification timeline has been delayed to all applicants.

If I receive an award, what must I do?

If selected for a Fellowship, individuals are first required to submit documentation verifying their New York State residency for the past two years, and from January of the award year. Acceptable documents include tax forms, phone bills, utility bills, bank statements, etc. Most recent tax laws state that Fellowships are taxable income; therefore, you should consult your tax advisor.

I haven’t received notification about the status of my application. When should I contact NYFA?

All applicants will be notified via email about the outcome of their application by the end of June of that years’ application cycle. If you have not received a notification by August, please contact us.

Can I view my application after it has been submitted?

You can view your application after you’ve submitted by first logging into your Submittable account. Once you are logged in, click on the name of your account in the top right corner of the page. A drop-down menu will appear. Under “User Accounts” click on “Submissions.” On the next page, you will find a list of all your Submittable applications. Locate the submission you want to view, and click on the name of the submission. You’ll be taken to the submission’s details page. Click on the “Content” tab, and you will be able to see all of the information you entered for that application. You are also able to download a copy of your application for your records, including any of the files you attached to the submission, i.e. your work samples. 

I’ve submitted my application for this year. Can I use my Submittable account to apply for applications in future award cycles?

Once you have created a Submittable account, you can continue to use this login information to apply for future NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship applications cycles, and so much more! Submittable hosts a variety of applications for awards, exhibitions, and opportunities. You can now use your account to apply to any of the applications available on Submittable. Your account is not strictly tied to the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship application.

I am unable to upload my work samples because my files are too big. What do I do?

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship applications have an upload limit of 2GB. If you are submitting images, each image can be no larger than 4MB. You can resize images using image editing software such as Photoshop, Preview, etc. Remember that image files should be at least 1024 pixels on their longest side, and a minimum of 72 dpi. If your video/film files are too large, you’ll need to compress them using video editing software, such as Movie Maker, Premiere, Final Cut, iMovie, etc. After you have compressed and reformatted your work samples, ensure they are not pixelated and that they play correctly before you upload them to the application. We highly recommend completing your application well in advance of the deadline to allow time for work samples to upload and to avoid potential technical problems.


I can’t log into my Submittable account. Should I contact NYFA?

NYFA staff does not have access to your Submittable account. If you are unable to login to Submittable, or are having other issues related to the website, we suggest you contact Submittable directly at [email protected].

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships are administered with leadership support from New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Image: Amy Cheng (Fellow in Painting ’96)