Everything You Need to Know About Fulbright Creative and Performing Arts Awards

Jun 29, 2017

When applying for a Fulbright U.S. Student Award for Study/Research, it can be difficult to determine if your proposal is an “Academic” or “Creative and Performing Arts” project. While there are many similarities between academic and arts-related awards, there are several key differences that make it critical to understand which category your proposed project best fits. Fulbright Program staff recently recorded a webinar to help explain some commonly misunderstood aspects of the Creative and Performing Arts application process. Here are some of the top questions asked by applicants and their answers. Visit the Fulbright Webinar page to access the full recorded seminar on the 2018-19 Arts Awards.

1. How do I know if I should apply as a Creative and Performing Arts candidate?

When determining whether your project proposal is academic or artistic in nature, you should ask yourself whether or not the project hinges on your artistic abilities and background. Arts-related projects should develop your craft while interacting with a larger question. Academic projects can have artistic themes but don’t necessary depend on your abilities as an artist. For example, if you propose an independent study project on murals in Mexico where you’d be analyzing pieces and writing about art theory/history, you would apply as an academic candidate. If you proposed this same project but focused on learning local techniques and incorporating new skills into your personal murals/paintings, you would apply as an arts candidate.

2. Are there any different application components needed if applying for an Arts award?

When applying for a U.S. Student Program Study/Research award, you will have the option to select either “Academic” or “Creative and Performing Arts” as your award type. Creative and Performing Arts applicants are required to submit supplementary materials related to their field such as an artistic portfolio or previous work examples. Arts awards are accepted in the same countries and regions as academic study/research awards, although some countries haven’t had as many arts applicants in the past.

3. Are arts-related Fulbright applications generally successful?

There is no definitive answer regarding the overall success rate of arts applications, although Fulbright has had a growing interest in supporting arts candidates. The number of arts applicants has decreased in the last few years. Even if a country hasn’t supported any arts applicants in the past, it might not be because that country isn’t interested in the arts; some countries might not have previously received strong arts applications.

 4. Are there any countries or regions that specifically need more arts-related candidates?

Yes! Many regions see a surplus of academic study/research applicants or English Teaching Assistant applicants. The East Asia/Pacific region is specifically looking for more arts-related study/research applicants.

5. If I’m applying for a Study/Research award for a graduate program abroad, how do I know if I might be considered an arts candidate?

Look at the materials that the university requires in your application. If you’re applying for a graduate program that requires a portfolio or audition, then you should most likely apply as a Creative and Performing Arts candidate for your Fulbright Study/Research award.

6. Is creative writing a supported art form?

Yes, absolutely. A list of supported arts-related disciplines can be found on the Fulbright website.

7. What are the biggest mistakes that applicants make when applying for an arts award?

Fulbright sees two major flaws in many arts applications. The first is proposing to replicate the same projects or work that you’re doing in the United States. For example, if an artist makes small pottery in the U.S. and proposes to make the exact same type of pottery in Morocco, Fulbright will want to see a greater challenge or transformational aspect to the proposal. Conversely, the other major flaw that Fulbright sees is related to feasibility. Many applicants propose projects that are completely different from their artistic backgrounds and fail to make strong cases about how they have sufficient training and experience to complete their projects. For example, Fulbright typically wouldn’t find it feasible for an artist with a background in pottery to choreograph and direct a community dance showcase if the applicant has expressed no prior experience or training in dance or the performing arts. Fulbright is looking for applicants who have the solid foundation in their field needed to complete a project, but the intent to build upon their craft in a meaningful and logical way.

8. Can I apply to a country where I have limited language skills?

Every country has different language requirements. Some require fluency or intermediate skills while some countries have no language requirements. Even if a country has no formal language requirements, it’s important for you to keep the feasibility of your project in mind. If you’re doing a project where you need to interview many people, for example, you might need a more advanced set of language skills.

9. If I’m applying for the second time, am I obligated to provide new portfolio materials?

It depends on how your portfolio materials relate to the current project you’re proposing. If you’re applying for the second time, the committee might wonder about the projects that you’ve been working on in the year since you last applied. Strong applications show growth and development in artistic ability.

10. If I propose a project that affiliates with a specific university in a specific city, am I still able to explore my proposed topic in other regions of the host country?

While Fulbright wants you to have a “home base” within your proposed host country, most applicants travel within the country as needed to conduct other aspects of their projects. Fulbright wouldn’t want you moving around every week, but in-country travel both related to your project and for cultural exchange purposes is highly encouraged.

Interested in applying? Bookmark the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for Study/Research to your ProFellow account.

Also see our articles on Fulbright Application Tips for more insights on developing a strong Fulbright application.

© Victoria Johnson 2017, all rights reserved.