Student Activities Center

Focus: Artist Grant Program

Focus is an organization that fosters ISU students in the visual, literary and performing arts. Individuals or groups of students may apply for grant funding for creative projects done outside of the classroom. An exhibit of visual projects is displayed in the Memorial Union each spring, and performing and literary projects are highlighted at a public reception. Focus has been funding projects at Iowa State since 1972.

Students -- undergraduate and graduate in any major -- are encouraged to apply for up to $600 in funding for projects to be displayed, performed, projected, or read. 

Funding for FOCUS grants is made possible through Student Government; awards are determined by a committee of students, faculty, and staff representing a broad range of the arts.

Grant applications are accepted twice a year: April 1 (First Round) and October 1 (Second Round), both for the following March's exhibit.

Funded projects may not to be used to receive credits in a course. All work for the project must be done outside of the classroom.

Each proposal requires a faculty member(s) as project advisor(s). The advisor must provide a written recommendation stating the student's capabilities as well as an assessment of the validity of the project and minimum budget requirements.

Funded projects must be completed according to the schedule provided by the Focus Committee. The committee may ask for a refund of the money expended toward any project not completed on time.

Focus Grant recipients will receive a Purchasing Card from Campus Organizations Accounting (COA) for all grant-related expenditures. A separate agreement must be signed with COA to receive your card. 

Please read the Focus Grant Application Guidelines for all eligibility requirements and rules for submission.  

Evaluation of Proposals

Proposals that are thorough, clear, and written by individuals from different academic areas and with different artistic interests and backgrounds will be most successful.

The FOCUS Committee will evaluate proposals based on the following points:

  • Extent to which the applicant presents a convincing rationale for funding the project. The proposal should demonstrate discipline, imagination, and creativity.

  • Extent to which funding the project will contribute to the artistic development of the applicant.

  • Extent to which the methodology proposed will result in the successful completion of the project. The project should be realistic, given time and budget constraints.


Hearings with each applicant are scheduled to allow the committee time to ask questions about the proposal and see examples of the individual's (or group's) work. The hearings last 5 - 10 minutes, and artists will need to bring examples and/or images of previous work to share with the committee. Hearings will be scheduled after the grant proposal is received.

2019-2020 Grants
September 10, 2019            Written Progress Reports Due for First Round Students & Advisors
September TBD                   Visual Progress Reviews for First Round Students
October 1, 2019                   Applications for Second Round Grants Due 
October 14, 2019                 Grant Hearings & Award Announcements for Second Round Grants
January 25, 2020                 Written Progress Reports Due for First and Second Round Students & Advisors
February TBD, 2020            Final Visual Progress Reviews for First and Second Round Students
March 23, 2020                    Artwork Drop-off for Visual Projects in the Pioneer Room
March 26 - April 28, 2020     Focus Exhibit on Display in The Pioneer Room
April 9, 2020                         Focus Exhibit Reception 
April 29, 2020                       Visual Artwork Pick-Up from Exhibit

2020-2021 Grants
April 1, 2020                        Applications for First Round Grants Due
April TBD                             Grant Hearings & Award Announcements for First Round Grants

Focus: Artist Grant Program Committee Members

Letitia Kenemer, Memorial Union Art Programs
Archana Edmond, Former Grant Recipient
Kristin Erdman, Memorial Union Marketing
Barbara Haas, English Department Representative
Brenda Jones, College of Design Representative
Sara Merritt, Reiman Gardens Educational Specialist 
Dan Neubauer, College of Design Representative

Robert Sunderman, Music and Theater Representative

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