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Home | Grants & Programs | Guidelines | Individual Excellence Awards


  OAC Board Members
  Welcome Letter
  Table of Contents

  How to Use Guidelines 

  Introduction to the OAC
  Overview of Appendices

  Funding for Organizations
  Funding Restrictions
  Additional Information

  Arts Access
  Project Support
  OAOT--For Presenters
  Building Cultural Diversity

  Arts Learning
  Arts Partnership
  Artist in Residence: Sponsors
  Artist Express
  Big Yellow School Bus

  Funding for Artists
  Grant Process for Artists
  Individual Excellence
  Trad. Arts Apprenticeship
  Artists with Disabilities Access  
  Artist in Residence: Artists
  OAOT--For Artists

  Other OAC Programs
  Other OAC Resources

  A: Legal Requirements
  B: ADA Policy
  C: Cultural Participation
  D: Public Value Statement
  E: Credit and Publicity
  G: Definitions
  H: Support Materials Grid
  I:  Deadlines
  J:  Support Materials for Artists




The OAC believes that artists provide the creative foundation for the cultural vitality of large and small communities throughout Ohio. The Individual Excellence Awards program recognizes outstanding accomplishments by these artists in a variety of disciplines. Individual Excellence Awards give the artists who receive them the time and resources to experiment, explore and reflect as they develop their skills and advance their art form. The Individual Excellence Awards also provide affirmation and acknowledgment of the excellent work of Ohio artists. A competitive application process focusing solely on evidence and merit of past artistic work and an open panel review conducted by nationally recognized professionals in each discipline ensure that only the most exceptional individuals receive funding.

Application Deadline: September 1

  • Calendar years ending in odd numbers (e.g., 2013, 2015): Applications will be accepted in the following disciplines: choreography, criticism, fiction/non-fiction, music composition, playwriting/screenplays, and poetry.
  • Calendar years ending in even numbers (e.g., 2014, 2016): Applications will be accepted in the following disciplines: crafts, design arts/illustration, interdisciplinary/performance art, media arts, photography, and visual arts.

View a list of application questions for Individual Excellence Awards.


The Individual Excellence Awards program provides grants to Ohio artists for the exceptional merit of a completed body of work. These awards recognize creativity and imagination that exemplify the highest level of achievement and advancement of the art form for a particular discipline. With this support the OAC encourages the growth and development of individual artists. Awards are offered in the following areas: choreography, crafts, fiction/non-fiction, poetry, playwriting/screenplays, criticism, design arts/illustration, interdisciplinary/performance art, media arts, music composition, photography, and visual arts. The awards are based on the quality of past work and are not project-based.

Allowable Expenses
Individual Excellence Awards may be used for a variety of expenses related to the growth and development of the artist and his or her work. The award may be used for any purpose designated by the receiving artist, except it cannot be used to continue education through a degree-granting program.

Grant Awards
Individual Excellence Awards are $5,000. Grant awards are recommended by discipline review panels. All recommendations must be approved by the OAC board. The Individual Excellence Award program is very competitive; less than 10 percent of applicants receive funding.


Creative artists who are residents of Ohio may apply to this program. Applicants must have lived in Ohio for one year prior to the September 1 deadline and must remain in the state during the grant period.

Eligibility Requirements
All applicants should read Appendix A: Legal Requirements before applying. Applicants to the Individual Excellence Awards program must:

  • Be an Ohio resident for one year prior to the September 1 deadline. The OAC defines an Ohio resident as someone who lives and works in Ohio at least eight months of the year.
  • Not be a student enrolled in any degree- or certificate-granting program.

Collaborative applications are accepted from artists who worked together to create the body of work submitted and who plan to continue working together. Each artist has creative ownership over the completed artwork. No more than two artists may apply collaboratively. If awarded an Individual Excellence Award the collaborative applicants split the award equally. Collaborative artists each need to submit an application, but only one set of support materials and one narrative is required.

Additional Eligibility Information
Individual Excellence Award recipients are not eligible to apply at the next calendar deadline. Work that resulted in an award may not be resubmitted at a future deadline. Resubmission of funded work will disqualify the applicant from the review process. Award recipients must remain residents of the state of Ohio throughout the grant period.


Please refer to the Grant Process for Artists section of the OAC Guidelines for a step-by-step guide to the entire process of applying for and managing an OAC grant for artists.

Application Basics
All applications to the Individual Excellence Awards program must be submitted via the OACís OnLine Grant Application system (OLGA). No paper applications are accepted.

Applicants must submit their application electronically via OLGA by 5 p.m. on the deadline date. If the application is not submitted electronically, it will not be accepted. You will be notified via e-mail (sent through OLGA) when your application is received. For assistance with OLGA, call 614/728-4449 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, or e-mail

Artists may submit only one application per calendar year. However, artists may submit a second application in the criticism discipline (during odd calendar year deadlines) if it is a separate body of work.

A signed copy of the application and support materials must be received in the OAC office by 5 p.m. seven calendar days following the application deadline date (regardless of the postmarked date). If the signed application and support materials do not reach the OAC within this timeframe, the application will not be accepted. You will be notified via e-mail (sent through OLGA) when your support materials are received.

Discipline-Specific Support Materials
For artists applying in the disciplines of choreography, criticism, fiction/non-fiction, interdisciplinary/performance art, media arts, music composition, playwriting, and poetry, support materials must be received in the OAC office by 5 p.m. seven calendar days following the application deadline date (regardless of the postmarked date).

For artists applying in the disciplines of crafts, design, interdisciplinary and media installations (within the media arts discipline), photography, and visual art, digital images must be uploaded to OLGA by 5 p.m. seven calendar days following the application deadline date.

Support materials such as scores, librettos, audiotapes, videotapes, CDs, or DVDs submitted with applications will be returned if a mailer large enough to hold them is included with the support materials. The return mailer must have the appropriate amount of U.S. postage. If an addressed, stamped mailer is not included with the support materials they will be kept for one year and then discarded. Manuscripts submitted in the literature disciplines will be shredded and recycled.

If you are a recipient of an Individual Excellence Award, your support materials will be kept by the Individual Artist Grants and Services Program as a permanent record.

The timeline below presents a general outline of the grant application process for the Individual Excellence Awards program. Please note that if a deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or state holiday, the deadline will be extended until the next business day.

Application available in OLGA July 1
Application deadline September 1
Support material deadline 7 calendar days following the application deadline
Panel meetings Late November/Early December
Grant award announcement (via OLGA) Early January
Council meeting to approve recommendations February/March
Grant award announcement March
Signed grant agreement deadline April 30
Grant period January 1 - June 30
Final report deadline December 31

Evaluation and Scoring
A panel of artists and arts professionals meets to evaluate and score applications in each discipline. Panel meetings are open to the public and artists are encouraged to attend to hear the panelís comments about the applications within that discipline.

During the panel meeting, panelists review support materials from each applicant. A series of scoring rounds narrows the pool of applications. The following scoring system is used in the preliminary rounds:

  1. Work is not competitive
  2. Work merits further consideration
  3. Work is exemplary

The scoring process is a tool used to focus the discussion regarding work that merits further consideration; it is not the primary mechanism for funding. After the scoring rounds, a more in-depth discussion takes place about the strongest applications. Once the entire pool of applications has been fully considered and the exemplary work has been thoroughly evaluated through panel discussions, funding recommendations are made by the panelists. Funding recommendations must be approved by the OAC board, the only body authorized to make final funding decisions.

Review Criteria
Panelists use the following criteria to make funding recommendations. Any one or a combination of these criteria is sufficient to justify an award recommendation:

  • Creative and inventive use of the medium
  • Innovation in style and/or concept
  • Outstanding technical proficiency or craftsmanship
  • Compares favorably to other work in the field, regionally and nationally
  • Body of work is consistently high in quality
  • Exemplifies the highest level of achievement in a discipline
  • Advances the art form
  • Artist narrative provides context for the body of work
  • Audiovisual materials are relevant and of high quality


A PDF of the complete Guidelines is available for download and print out (or click here to jump directly to this section and choose which pages to print).
Right Click the file and choose Save Target As: to download the file.
You must also read Appendix A: Legal Requirements if you plan to apply for OAC funding.

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