What is an Inspiration Grant?

ArtsKC Inspiration Grants are an investment in human capital, providing direct support to individual artists and arts professionals for projects and activities that have the potential to advance their careers and build their capacity for future work. Visual, music, theatre, literary, dance, and interdisciplinary projects are the primary focus of Inspiration Grants.

Applications for Inspiration Grants will be reviewed and approved twice over the course of the fiscal year, so there are opportunities to apply every six months.

The highest priorities for funding are artistic projects or activities with the potential to have substantial impact on the career development and working capacity or efficiency of the artists involved. Applications for assistance with normal, ‘business as usual’ expenses involved with the applicant’s customary art practice or professional activities are not a high priority for funding and are generally not funded.

If you have a question about the suitability of your idea for an Inspiration Grant, it’s best to ask the ArtsKC Grant Staff by email well in advance of the deadline. We recommend looking at descriptions of previous grant awards, as well.

The application process is entirely online.

Timeline + Deadlines

Deadlines for 2018-2019

  ROUND 1: 

Applications should be for projects and activities occurring between the dates of August 1, 2018 and May 30, 2019. 
Preliminary Applications are due on June 8, 2018 at Midnight.
Preliminary Applications will be reviewed, and those that are selected will be asked to submit Full Applications.
If selected, Full Applications are due July 20, 2018 at 11:59 PM.
Funding decisions will be made and announced in late August, 2018.

   ROUND 2: 

Applications should be for projects and activities occurring between the dates of April 1, 2019 and January 30, 2020. 
Preliminary Applications are due on February 1, 2019 at Midnight.
Preliminary Applications will be reviewed, and those that are selected will be asked to submit Full Applications.
If selected, Full Applications are due March 13, 2019 at 11:59 PM.
Funding decisions will be made and announced in late April, 2019.

The total amount of Inspiration Grant funding will be balanced so that funding will be available for projects in both rounds of applications. If submitted several months in advance of the actual dates for a proposed project, an application may be deferred to the next award cycle at the discretion of the review committee.


To be eligible, an applicant must be an adult resident of the Kansas City metropolitan area* with an established record of professional achievement in the arts. Artists should be able to demonstrate a history of or the potential for deriving income from the sale, exhibition or presentation of their work or art practice. Arts professionals should be currently employed either on a full or part time basis in an arts-related position.  

If you have received an Inspiration grant recently, you are eligible to apply again after waiting out one round, and completing all final reports from previous grants.

*By the Kansas City metropolitan area, we are referring to Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties in Missouri; and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.

If you have questions about eligibility, please contact Heather Beffa at Beffa@ArtsKC.org.

Funding Amounts, Payments and Tax Information

Range of Awards

Inspiration Grants range from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $2,500.

Most grant awards are for LESS than the maximum.  The majority of Inspiration grants awarded range from $500 to $1,500; please plan your request accordingly.

Matching Funds May Be Required

Depending on the amount of the request and the total size of the expense budget, matching funds may be required.  Requests from individuals for $1,000 or less do not require any matching funds; however, having some matching funds can be considered a plus for a request even below $1,000.

Requests for more than $1,000 require matching funds for the amount of the request that is more than $1,000; that is, one dollar of additional revenue should match every dollar in excess of $1,000.

For example, a project with an expense budget of $2,000 is eligible for a grant request of $1,500 and should show $500 in matching revenue from other sources.

Personal funds can be used for matching revenue if necessary.

Payment of Awards and Reporting

Awards are paid in two installments, with 75% paid at the beginning of a project and 25% due upon completion once an acceptable final report has been received.

Tax Liability

For purposes of the Internal Revenue Service, Inspiration Grants to individuals must be treated as personal income and will be reported as revenue at calendar year-end on a Form 1099 to the applicant.  Please consult with your tax adviser on the consequences of such income, which may be defrayed by the cost of expenses depending on your individual situation and circumstances.  It is the award recipient’s responsibility to plan for and deal with any resulting tax liability.

Application and Review Process

How to Apply

The application process is entirely online.

Click here to access the ArtsKC Grant System.

Applying for an Inspiration Grant is a two step process:

  1. Submit a Preliminary Application online. Preliminary Applications may be submitted at any time but will be reviewed only at each deadline.  You can preview a sample of the online Preliminary Application form here: ArtsKC Inspiration Grant Preliminary Application PREVIEW. Staff will notify the applicant if the Preliminary Application has been approved to proceed to the second step of the application process.
  2. If approved to continue, the applicant submits a Full Application online with additional details and documentation about the request as directed by ArtsKC staff. Full Applications are considered by the review committee, and the recommendations of the review committee are submitted for final approval by the ArtsKC Board of Directors.

If you are awarded an Inspiration Grant:

Funded applications receive 75% of the award up front and the remaining 25% upon submission and approval of a Final Report, to be submitted online when the funded portion of the project is sufficiently complete.

Review Process

Preliminary Applications are reviewed by a panel of ArtsKC staff members.  Full proposals for Inspiration Grants are reviewed by a committee chaired by an ArtsKC Board Member that includes community volunteers and arts professionals. Funding recommendations for proposals by the full committee are submitted for final approval by the ArtsKC Board of Directors.

First-Time Applicants

If you are applying for the first time: 

Preliminary Applications may be submitted at any time but will be reviewed only at each deadline.

  1. Access the ArtsKC Grant System, a website separate from ArtsKC.org.
    2. If you are applying for the first time, create a profile by clicking on “Create New Account” and follow the instructions closely. There are specific directions when creating a profile for individuals who are applying for an Inspiration Grant. Returning applicants should use the same email that they used previously to log on to the system again.
    3. Once your profile is created, you will be taken to the “Application Page” and you will be able to access the current Inspiration Grant application.

The Inspiration Preliminary Application form contains several questions regarding the artist applying and the project itself. In addition to the questions, you will be asked to submit the following:

  1. Professional resume or curriculum vitae in PDF
  2. Budget for your project
  3. Samples of your recent work, if possible (no more than 6 samples)

Work samples may be submitted as attachments in the system, or as hyperlinks. Note that there can only be one work sample via hyperlink and that submitting your general website is not considered a work sample.

Grant System Link and Instructional Video

ArtsKC Online Grant System 

How to use our Online Grant System (4 minutes long):

Committee Listing

2018-2019 Inspiration Grant Committee Bios

Lisbeth (Beth) Lurey, Chair of the Committee, Art Historian
Education: BFA Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, Graduate Studies:  UMKC in Art History
Employment History: Art Museum Curatorial and Administration
1978 -2016, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
I have held many positions within the Nelson over the years.  I have left and returned on more than one occasion. Highlights include Head of the Docent Program, in the early years, winding up the last 9 years as acting curator of the Print Department. I have also put in time at the Des Moines Art Center before moving to Kansas City, and a part-time filling in as Registrar at the Kemper, UMKC Gallery for several years, on several occasions.  There were projects with Mid-America Arts Alliance to name only a few.
Art Consultant: 1999- current, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Curator of the Collection
In addition, I have been responsible for Faultless Starch-Bon Ami’s Collection and BMA’s collection as well.  There were years at the Morgan Gallery, under Myra Morgan, years with Mark Twain Banks, both here and in St. Louis.
Board Experience: 2016- current, ArtsKC Regional Arts Council. I have served several years on the Board at City In Motion.  I have done committee work previously with the Metropolitan Arts Council, Truman Medical Center, Kindness is Contagious and the PTA, among others.

Walter Coppage
Walter Coppage is an award winning actor who has appeared at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Studio Theatre in Washington, DC, KC Repertory Theatre, St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre, Coterie Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, KC Actors Theatre, Spinning Tree Theatre and Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. Recent roles include: Gabriel in Fences, MLK in The Mountaintop; Dr. Copeland in The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter; the Stage Manager in Our Town; Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley and Mr. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol; Rev. Peters in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime; Rat in Welcome To Fear City; Polonius in Hamlet; Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus.
Directing credits include: Spinning Tree Theatre’s Black Pearl Sings; KC Actors Theatre’s The Island; Coterie Theatre’s Hana’s Suitcase, a co-production with Tradewind Arts, UMKC Theatre, and the Mid-West Holocaust Center. Feature film credits include: All Creatures Here Below, Goodland, The Profit, Jayhawkers, Destination: Planet Negro, In The Wake Of Ire, The Only Good Indian, Suspension, State Of The Union, If Night Comes. His TV credits include: Detroiters (Comedy Central), Chicago Med (NBC), Gone In The Night (CBS), The Only Witness (Lifetime), All Roads Lead Home (Showtime), A Deadly Vision (ABC), Truman (HBO). He is a founding member of KC Actors Theatre, the Unicorn Theatre’s Actor Ambassador for the National New Play Network and an advisory board member for the KC Film Fest.

Tom Corbin
Tom Corbin’s introduction and subsequent career in sculpture has been based more on serendipity than calculation. Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1954, Tom’s early fascination in art was inspired by his mother, an art teacher by trade. Tom’s original career pursuit was in Business as an advertising executive. Tom’s first brush with the third dimension came in a chance meeting with a bronze sculptor in 1982. Classes with this sculptor led to a deepened interest in bronze casting and thoughts of a career in art. In 1986, Tom left the secure confines of his advertising agency job for the unpredictability of life as a full time sculptor.
Tom landed his first major public commission in 1988. Additional commissions followed, along with the financial freedom for Tom to develop his own “speculative” sculpture. During this period, Tom was also experimenting with furniture design, an area that would soon play a major role in the growth of his studio operation.
Today, Tom’s work appears in 22 showrooms and galleries internationally. Individual collectors include Mr. and Mrs. Tom Hanks, Sofia Vergara, Nicole Kidman, Danielle Steel and the late Frank Sinatra. Public installation sites include the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the United Nations, The Kauffman Foundation, the Firefighter’s Memorial, the Children’s Fountain, University of Oregon and Florida State University. In addition to important public and private collections, his work has found its way onto the sets of some major motion pictures, among them True Lies, A Perfect Murder, It’s Complicated and Transformers.

Derald Davis
Dr. Derald Davis is the Assistant Superintendent of Innovation and Special Projects for Kansas City Public Schools. He has over 22 years’ experience as a principal, district leader, and educational consultant. He is the recipient of the Turnaround Leader Award from Kansas City Public Schools, the Outstanding Educator Service Award from Phi Delta Kappa Sorority, the Joseph B. Whitehead Educator of Distinction Award from the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation, and the Ida B. Wells Risk Taker Award from the National Alliance of Black School Educators.

Mary Lockton, Community Advocate
Mary Lockton believes it is important to support our Kansas City community.  After graduating from Kansas State University and working at Shook, Hardy and Bacon law firm as a medical research analyst, she became an active community volunteer.  Since 1979, she has been a member of the Jr. League, chaired numerous committees and served on the Board.  She was on the start-up committee of the Holiday mart and chairman of the second one. Now in its 32nd year, it has raised millions of dollars for the KC community.  Training in fund development and event planning led to helping develop and chair other large fundraisers for nonprofit organizations in Kansas City.  Seeing a need for a science museum in Kansas City and for the restoration of Union Station, she worked for more than 10 years to raise awareness, work on the bi-state campaign, raise funds through events and chair the Grand Opening of a renovated Union Station and the new Science City in 1999.  In 2014 she co-chaired a gala celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Union Station. She is involved with Cristo Rey High School (a school for below poverty level students) as a board member, a dancer for Dancing with the Stars fundraiser, on the Development committee and the President’s Advisory Council.  Other community boards have been Children International, Children’s TLC and the Ronald McDonald House.  She is a member of the KC FBI Citizens Academy, a participant of the Nelson Adkins Advocates, and a master gardener. Other arts related support is as a member of the Nelson Adkins fellows, the Kemper museum, Powell Gardens, Naples Botanical Gardens, and Kauffman Performing Arts Center.  She loves to dance and is passionate about Ballroom Dancing.  Other interests include golf, hiking, fitness, travel and time at a second home in Naples, Florida.  She is married to Michael Murphy, an artist and musician and has two grown children and five grandchildren.

Desmond Poirier is a Kansas City native. A musician, artist, and teacher, he has also lived in Rhode Island and California. Desmond has worked as a graphic designer, an illustrator, a production technician in the print industry, a landscape designer, and an art educator. A lifelong musician, he also plays lead guitar in the local rock band Red Kate. Red Kate tours often in cities such as Minneapolis, Tulsa, Fayetteville, Des Moines, and St. Joseph. Desmond received a BFA in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1999; and a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Kansas State University in 2008. For the last 10 years, Desmond has taught drawing continuing education courses for the Kansas City Art Institute. Specializing in figure drawing and portraiture, his artistic work focuses on draftsmanship and understanding of the human anatomy. Desmond currently lives in Kansas City with his wife and year old daughter.

Kristin Raven, Content Author, Waddell & Reed
Kristin is honored to serve on this year’s Inspiration Grants committee. She has been involved with ArtsKC since 2006 through participation in Art@Work events, and lucky to serve on a variety of ArtsKC grant panels and committees since 2015. She serves on the boards of KC Young Audiences and KC Women’s Chorus, where she also sings.  Kristin holds a BFA in Design/Illustration. Over the years, she has played clarinet and keyboard in school and pit bands, performed in plays and musicals, recorded Celtic music, completed hundreds of pet portraits, designed greeting cards, sung in regional choruses, majored in English for a minute, and danced ballet and jazz just for fun. She believes in the power of lifelong arts education and integration to develop communities of problem-solvers, joy-seekers and restless creators. Arts will always be worth our support.

Rob Robinson, Commerce Bank, Assistant Vice President & Senior Business Analyst
Current Board Member for the following organizations: Lenexa Arts Council, Owen / Cox Dance Group, Goodwill of Kansas City, and Rediscover. Rob is a graduate of Michigan State Univ.

General Grant Application Advice

General Grant Application Advice
1. Start Early!

2. Choose appropriate grant category / opportunity

  • Are you eligible?
  • Will the timing work?
  • Is the potential grant award useful to you?

3. Look at the Application form and estimate the amount of time it will take to fill out

4. Write a brief paragraph of your project, to get started

  • Include the basic Who, What, Where, When, Why and How details
  • Review your paragraph and start making a list of items you need
  • Notice what you’re missing – fee for an assistant, insurance /liability, etc.
  • Consider what you could remove, or do without, in case your project is not fully funded, or in order to make your project more feasible

5. Begin filling out the application form. The form may help shape your project.

6. The most important parts of any grant application, which should tell the same story, or match:

  • Project Description – should have all the information except dollar amounts
  • Budget- should have dollar amounts for all the items mentioned or needed in the Project Description, with no surprises or new items that are more than $50, or at a very low threshold
    -should have two sections: Revenue & Expenses, or Income & Expenses, that total the same amount

7. Write clearly, respectfully, and be persuasive.

8. Review your application before submitting! Make sure your attachments don’t have a formatting problem, or that they didn’t attach at all. Ask a friend or colleague if they understand it, and better yet, if they would fund it.

9. Turn in your application ON TIME or EARLY.

10. Make sure you include the most up-to-date Contact Information, and if it changes, UPDATE the funder immediately.

11. If your application is Denied, don’t be discouraged about your project. Also, if your application is denied, try not to take it personally, and remember that you took part in a competitive process. Ask the funder if they would recommend applying with them again, or if they can offer referrals to other funding sources that may help.

12. If your application is Approved, thank the funder, and watch for communication about follow-up steps. Your funder may prefer that you wait to announce your grant award publicly until after their own announcement, for example.

13. Grants come with some strings – agreement forms, final reports, logo and funder name recognition, etc.
a. Turn in agreement forms and any other paperwork as soon as possible to receive first payments
b. Document your project and any changes as you go along, for the Final Report (and yourself)
c. Note Final Report dates on your calendar and meet the deadline to receive final payments
d. Make sure to recognize your funder in the manner they request

14. Remember that Applying for Grants is a skill that improves with practice. Remember that because most grant processes are competitive, even good projects with great applications are not always funded. It’s best to plan a project that has multiple funding sources just in case: grants, in-kind donations, fundraising efforts like events, crowdfunding, private donations, and personal investment.