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Offer: Documentary Photography Audience Engagement Grant - Open Society Institute

The Audience Engagement Grant supports photographers to take an existing body of work on a social justice or human rights issue and devise an innovative and effective way of using that work as a tool for social change. We are looking for projects that serve as interventions on pressing problems and provide concrete ways for photographers, organizations, and their target audiences to create a positive impact.

We are interested in well-designed projects that:

inspire audiences visually and create meaningful interactions with photographic content
utilize photography as the basis for programming or tools that directly connect people to processes that lead to social change
provide deeper, more nuanced understanding of human rights and social justice issues
pairs photographers with organizations that are connected to the target audience and currently working on related issues

Eligibility Criteria

Proposed projects should include the following elements:

Partners: The Audience Engagement Grant supports photographers who are partnering with organizations on collaborative projects. Each project partner should have the skills and track record to realize the project and must commit time and resources to implement it. Partnership should include:

Photographer or Curator/Project Organizer, whose expertise is in the production or presentation of documentary photography
Audience Engagement Partner(s), with expertise in a specific issue and already connected to the target audience
OPTIONAL: Distribution Partner with expertise in the dissemination or presentation method

Projects: We are seeking projects that include the following:

An existing body of compelling photographs that documents a human rights or social justice issue. Preference will be given to projects that address issues and geographical areas of concern to the Open Society Foundations.
Effective and innovative ideas for using photography to spark deeper engagement with a particular community on a social justice or human rights issue
Well-designed dissemination strategies that are uniquely tailored to meet the needs and interests of a target audience
A detailed plan for engaging targeted audiences in concrete ways

Ineligibility Criteria

The following projects are not eligible for funding:

Requests to shoot new work
Dated material, unless the purpose is to collect and preserve untold, alternative, or historically
significant narratives about a particular community or historical event
Projects whose only goal is to fundraise and/or raise awareness in a general way
Projects geared toward “the general public,” and do not identify a primary target audience
Exhibitions that serve only the interests of the photographer or the gallery
Book production
Documentary film or video
Lobbying activities


We will provide between five to eight grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000. Grant funds cannot be used to shoot new imagery. When selected projects closely align with the work of the Open Society Foundations, we will facilitate contact with relevant foundation staff and grantees.

Note that there are two deadlines:

Optional Letter of Intent: May 31, 2012, 5:00 pm EST

Full Application: June 28, 2012, 5:00 pm EST

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