The ioby Artists Lead! program provides a flexible funding opportunity for artist-led creative placemaking projects. Projects of all budget sizes are welcome, and every eligible project is given access to up to $15,000 in dollar-for-dollar match funding. Match funding is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to all eligible projects as they fundraise. 


To be eligible for match funding through this program, your project must:

  1. Focus on a geographic community, like a neighborhood, town, or city. In rural areas, projects may also cover a region or series of towns.

  2. Be led by an artist (or group of artists) collaborating closely or working in partnership with other members of the community. Artists from all artistic fields are eligible. The artist(s) should be leading the project implementation as well as the fundraising campaign. 

  3. Generate place-based outcomes that the community has expressed a need or desire for.  Such as: the project activates a commercial corridor local partners have identified needing attention; the project results in a vacant space being converted to a use the community wants; the project brings residents together around a theme that’s important locally, perhaps to learn more about local food systems, or provide a social event for isolated community members. 

  4. Result in a physical or tangible output. Such as: the project results in an event, a series of community meetings, a new public artwork, or a play created and performed by residents. Digital or online work might be a component of a creative placemaking project, but generally not the entire project. 

  5. Be based in the United States or a U.S. Territory.

  6. Produce a shared community benefit or public good and not be aimed at private profit for a specific individual, family, or business.

  7. Begin implementation anytime between now and December 2020. 

If your project is eligible, you will be required to:

  1. Have the lead artist (or one of the lead artists) be ioby’s point person for communicating about fundraising. 

  2. Include a budget on your ioby campaign page outlining how funds will be spent; this budget can be updated to be larger or smaller in the future if needed as the project evolves. 

  3. Complete three short surveys:

    • Pre-fundraising survey - We’ll ask you to fill out this 5-minute survey before you begin fundraising.

    • Post-fundraising survey - We’ll ask you to fill out this 5-minute survey when you finish fundraising. 

    • Project Implementation survey - We’ll ask you to fill out this 10-15 minute survey when you finish fundraising and once you’ve implemented your project. 

Eligibility Examples 

The following examples are not at all a comprehensive list of eligible and ineligible projects, they are just meant to further illustrate differences between artist-led creative placemaking and other artistic activities. 

Examples of eligible projects: 

  • Artists converting vacant or underused spaces into active places for community life. For example: 

    • An artist collective creating a community cultural center. 

    • Artist-led projects to convert vacant lots into community gardens. 

    • Temporary installations or pop-up events by artists activating underused storefronts, lots, buildings, etc. 

  • Artists using creative practices to engage the public in civic life. For example: 

    • Artists using theater or songwriting to help more residents effectively engage with local government. 

    • Artist-created interactive installations or events that aim to solicit community feedback in a city planning process.

    • Art projects designed to engage and educate neighborhood residents about a local issue pertinent to that neighborhood.


  • Artists using their creative skills to strategically support community goals. For example: 

    • An artist working with residents to create a series of outdoor performance events, designed to activate an underused park space that residents have identified as in need of public programming. 

    • Artists working with local community organizations to create a public, family-friendly performance series to address a lack of social engagement opportunities for young parents that the community has identified.  

    • An artist working with residents to make and present a performing arts piece responding to their experience of a neighborhood issue.  

    • An artist working with local high school students to learn about and create a response to a local issue in the community.

  • Artists working to meet a community need, whether or not their solution uses fine arts. Such as: 

    • An artist collaborating with community stakeholders to launch a business incubator in response to local economic development needs.

    • An arts collective creating a mobile library to address the closure of a local library system, or a mobile healthy food truck in a food desert.

    • Artists working to open health collectives or wellness clinics to address local healthcare challenges.


  • Public art created as part of a community strategy for change.  For example: 

    • A mural project launched by artists working in partnership with a local neighborhood organization, designed to promote a sense of safety and pride in an area the community has identified is perceived as neglected. 

    • An artist creating a child-friendly, interactive public sculpture, in response to residents’ desire to have more outdoor activity for children because of a lack of local playgrounds. 

    • Artists working with local economic development partners to add public art or outdoor arts events as part of a cross-sector strategy to build local identity and support local businesses.

    • Public art interventions, creative approaches to street furniture, etc designed to enhance the rider experience of public transit. 


Examples of ineligible projects include: 

  • Creative placemaking projects where an established organization is developing the project and leading the fundraising efforts, then selecting/hiring artists to make the work. Your nonprofit or city agency may be doing meaningful creative placemaking work that will hire and support artists. However, funds from this matching program are intended to support artists in funding their own community-engaged work. To be eligible, the artist that is developing the project should also be spearheading the fundraising campaign. 

  • General programming support for arts organizations, such as: 

    • Funding for an arts organization’s annual festival event, ongoing arts education programs, ongoing artist fellowship programs, the regular season of concerts or performances, etc, especially if that programming is not place-specific or developed with close community partnerships.

    • Funding for capital improvements or equipment purchases that support the ongoing work of a gallery, performance space, or artist residency space. 

  • General arts education programming. For example: 

    • A school or organization fundraising to pay teaching artists to provide in-school or after-school arts education. 

    • An artist fundraising to cover the costs of their school-based arts education program, with no broader community goal beyond improving access to arts education. 

  • Arts programming that does not relate to a broader community goal beyond a desire for more arts accessibility. 

    • An outdoor performance series that may provide more art experiences in a community that has limited cultural programming, but that does not relate to other community-identified needs or broader strategic community development plans. 

    • Projects that do not have a relationship to non-arts fields or aspects of community development beyond adding more arts programming and improving arts access.

  • Public art projects without a creative placemaking process or goal. Creative placemaking often involves adding art in public places, but not every public art project is creative placemaking. For example: 

    • An artist creating a mural in a place they desire, not in response to any community input process or specific goal of positive community change.  

    • An artist with an idea for a public art project they developed on their own without significant input from residents/local partners, who then adds opportunities for minimal resident engagement in the making of the work (i.e. residents will help paint the mural, be invited to the opening event, etc)

  • Projects that travel or ‘pop-up’ in different cities. For example: 

    • Arts projects that address a widespread issue (e.g. climate change, gun violence, etc.) and travel to different cities without changing significantly to respond to that place.  Please note: you may fundraise for a part of your project in a specific community, assuming there are local partners, a desire for the project in that place, and you are customizing that project for that place. For example, how does your project work with neighborhood residents to address gun violence in that neighborhood? Or how does your project engage the community in mitigating impacts of climate change in that city

  • Projects that don’t create a tangible, concrete change focused on a place. 

    • Projects without a physical outcome (event, in-person program, upgrades to a physical public space, etc) that are focused solely on creating digital materials (apps, software, websites, toolkits, films, research papers, etc).

  • Projects that primarily serve the arts community, instead of the general public: 

    • Artist collectives fundraising to support their performance space to provide more performance opportunities for local emerging artists. 

    • Artists fundraising for meet-up events or performance programs designed to help local musicians connect and build a stronger musical community. 

    • Fundraising for a pool of funds to create artist fellowships or to be re-granted to other artists for an unspecified purpose in the future. 

Want to discuss eligibility for your project idea? Contact Ethany Uttech at Please note, we are currently taking a pause in accepting new ideas for this program. Please check back on in early March for more information. 

For more information about Artists Lead! eligibility and how the match works, see our FAQs.