Grants & Scholarships


Creative Heights

OCF developed this initiative in recognition of the need for artists and cultural organizations to test new ideas and stretch their creative capacity.

  • Overview


    The Creative Heights initiative provides opportunities for artists and cultural organizations to stretch their creative capacity, share new works and test new ideas. The initiative aims to increase Oregon’s cultural visibility and vitality while supporting unique opportunities for Oregonians to experience innovative arts and culture. 

    Creative Heights grants are for the creation and/or presentation of new and innovative performances, exhibitions, programs, and other works of art and culture. OCF will select up to 12 projects annually with grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 per project.

    OCF is interested in reviewing proposals for a range of funding levels and timelines to best serve the needs of the particular project. Funds can support any artistic or cultural discipline, including visual, dance, folk & traditional arts, film/video/media, literary arts, museum exhibitions, humanities, music, theatre & performance arts, history & heritage, and multidisciplinary or emerging fields. Projects should provide opportunities for the artists, collaborators, and curators involved to learn something new.


    2018 Grantees

    A list of 2018 Creative Heights grantees is available here.

    2017 Grantees

    A list of 2017 Creative Heights grantees is available here.

    2016 Grantees

    A list of 2016 Creative Heights grantees is available here.

    2015 Grantees

    We are pleased to announce 2015 Creative Heights funding for 14 projects across Oregon. A full list of grantee projects is available here.

    2014 Grantees

    A list of 2014 Creative Heights grantees is available here.

    Upcoming Grantee Events Additional events will be added as details become available.

    Winter Chamber Music

    The Winter Chamber Music Festival on Saturday, February 16th, will feature a variety of small ensembles performing chamber works paired with wine and hors d'oeuvres. The evening will feature the world premier of a commissioned piece of music by Raven Chacon. 

    Raven Chacon hails from the Navajo Nation, has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project and is a former member of the American Indian arts collective Postcommodity which has had their work displayed internationally. His compositions have been performed by the Arizona Opera, the Kronos Quartet, and Ensemble Music New Mexico. The commissioned work will feature both Symphony musicians and youth from the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Mr. Chacon will visit Pendleton for a three week period leading up the performance where he will be producing a series of prints based off the score at Crow's Shadow Institute of the Arts and coach musicians performing the commissioned work.

    • Saturday February 16th


    Profile Theatre: World Premiere Commission of New Work by Ping Chong+ Company

    In February of 2019 Profile Theatre will present our first-ever world premiere commission.

    An ambitious project exploring healthcare and chronic illness created with world-renowned theatre artist and National Medal of Arts awardee Ping Chong + Company. Created in collaboration with the Community Profile program. For more information visit Profile Theatre

    • February 8-17, 2019 

    Oregon Humanities: This Land

    This Land is an online multimedia project that collects and connects stories about land, home, belonging, and identity by Oregon's communities of color. The project uses film, words, maps, photos, sounds and graphics by artists and writers of color to build broader understanding of how policies and laws shape systems of power and land ownership in Oregon's past and present. The project launched in Feb 2017 and is available online at

    Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble presents From Maxville to Vanport

    "From Maxville to Vanport," featuring vocalist Marilyn Keller with music by Ezra Weiss and lyrics by S. Renee Mitchell, is available today for purchase on Bandcamp—digital download and CD—and for streaming on Spotify and elsewhere. The release of the album is another major milestone in what has turned out to be an long and incredible journey that has connected people across the state, and across the divides of zip codes and race to gain a better understanding of Oregon's shared history.

    There will be two performances of  From Maxville to Vanport again in February in Corvallis, and March in Portland! To purchase tickets and see more information please visit The Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble here

    • Thursday Feb 28th at 7pm @ OSU Memorial Ballroom - Corvallis
    • Sunday Mar 3rd at 7pm @ Mission Theater - Portland 






  • Eligibility


    Any individual artist or cultural organization is eligible to submit a letter of inquiry. Applicants must apply as an Oregon 501(c)3 non profit organization or with a 501(c)3 partner or fiscal sponsor. Grant funding may be used for commissioning fees; pay for artists, curators, and scholars; costs associated with research, rehearsals, workshops; promotion; design and production; dissemination and documentation; and other direct costs related to creation, presentation, implementation, or exhibition. For additional questions, please contact OCF staff.

    Not all of the following elements are required, but preference will be given to proposals that: 

    • support the development and/or presentation of new and innovative work by Oregon artists, curators, and other cultural creatives;
    • represent an artistic or creative stretch or risk for the organization and artists involved;
    • offer the applicant an opportunity to learn and advance their discipline or craft; 
    • have the potential to advance artistic and cultural fields in Oregon;
    • include plans for the preservation of new works including documentation and dissemination as appropriate;
    • compensate artists, curators, and historians, appropriately as professionals; 
    • engage diverse and underserved audiences and artists.

    Potential projects include but are not limited to:

    • research and development for a new project or collaboration;
    • support for creation of new work by individual artists (e.g. hosted fellowships, commissions, etc.);
    • presentation of a fully realized new work/project in one or multiple Oregon communities;
    • new delivery systems or approaches to the creation or presentation of art and culture
    • bringing in outside experts to work with artists on new skills or approaches to work 
    • a museum-based project that reveals previously unexamined Oregon history, culture or art; or
    • production or presentation of an innovative work developed by Oregon artists in collaboration with artists from outside Oregon.
    Ineligible projects are those that: engage artists solely on a volunteer basis; are solely educational in nature; do not engage Oregon artists, collaborators, and audiences; or include finished work not available to the public (i.e. art for a private collection or non-public space).
  • Application Guidelines

    Application Guidelines

    Letters of Inquiry will be accepted online starting January 4, 2019. The due date for LOI's is February 19, 2019.

    2019 RFP

    Review the 2019 Request for Proposals for information on the scope of proposals sought, application process, and review criteria. Additional information can be found on our Creative Heights FAQ document.

    Letter of Inquiry (due February 19th)

    Interested applicants must submit a brief letter of inquiry (LOI) via our online system which will open Jan 4th. You may answer the LOI narrative questions in writing or in a 2-3 min video (upload). LOI's should describe the proposed project idea, lead artists/curators/collaborators involved, how the project idea is distinct or different from previous work. Applicants must also indicate the preliminary grant request ($25,000-$100,000) and include a letter of support from the executive leadership at the nonprofit partner. After review by the OCF Arts Committee, strong proposals that fit with program guidelines will be invited to submit a full application.
    Specific LOI Project Questions (required):
    1. Contact information for the artistic/creative lead
    2. Who are you? i.e. Tell us about your background as an artist/creative. And/or describe previous notable projects (100 words)
    3. A one sentence project description (70 words)
    4. What is your idea for a Creative Heights project? (250 words)
    5. How is the proposed project different or distinct from previous work? (150 words)
    6. Who do you want to work with? i.e. Tell us about your collaborators and their artistic/creative background (100 words)
    7. Select a preliminary grant request (ranges from $25,000- $100,000)
    8. Upload a letter of support from the executive leadership of your nonprofit collaborator

    Note: We are not accepting work samples or project/organization budgets as part of the LOI. OCF reserves the right to request financial information from an organization before inviting a project to apply


    Full Application (by invitation only)

    Full applications will be invited in early April. Invited applicants will submit a full application in May including a detailed project budget, project plan, bio from lead collaborators, work samples, and timeline. Full applications will be reviewed by a panel of peer experts. Panel recommendations are subject to approval by the Oregon Community Foundation board of directors annually in early August. Funding will be disbursed by late August.


    Projects will be reviewed and scored using the following criteria:

    1. Excellence: Projects show significant promise of excellence and impact on the artists and/or the field through:

    • the high caliber and achievement of the artists, curators, and/or collaborators involved; 
    • evidencing awareness of its relationship to the broader, field-wide context; and
    • setting forth a clear curatorial vision (when applicable).

    2. Innovation/Risk: Projects demonstrate bold, innovative, and ambitious new ideas that stretch individuals and/or organizations beyond their current work in project form and/or content. OCF recognizes that if new creative work is truly stretching an individual or organization, there is a possibility of not achieving stated goals. Success may be measured in whether those involved in the project are able to reflect, learn, and grow from their process – regardless of the outcome. To demonstrate risk, a project should:

    • display a high level of imagination and creativity in its execution;
    • have the potential to build on or contribute new concepts or methodologies for the field; 
    • offer the participants opportunity for learning and transformation with the potential for meaningful change; and
    • be distinctive from an organization’s prior work in scope, scale and/or practice.

    3. Project Feasibility and Fit: lead organizations and fiscal sponsors demonstrate capacity to carry out the project including an appropriate budget, clarity of project goals and design, demonstrated track record of success, and appropriate qualifications of the project's personnel.

  • Resources
  • Staff Assistance

    Staff Assistance

    Tips for Nonprofits Communicating with OCF (PDF). Tips, guidelines and FAQ's before you contact OCF

    If you have questions about your online application or work sample, please contact Carlee Smith at 503.227.6846 or

    For general questions on Creative Heights or questions regarding your project plans and content please contact Jerry Tischleder at 503.227.6846