April 2023

Creativity is Boundless: An Inclusive Guide

An Inclusive Guide for Supporting Immigrant, Migrant, and Undocumented Artists with Fellowships, Grants, and Residencies

Download the full guide

About the Inclusive Guide

Organizations that support the arts — both funders and grantmaking programs — already believe deeply in the impact that artists and storytellers have on culture and society.

Yet, all too often, immigrant, migrant, and undocumented creatives face systemic barriers accessing the resources and opportunities they need to tell stories through art due to their immigration status. When this happens, the art and stories that are necessary to defining the experience of being American are excluded from our artistic landscape.

While U.S. immigration policy may appear complex, organizations have the ability to adjust internal policies to make fellowships, grants, and residencies accessible to immigrant, migrant, and undocumented applicants.

Creativity is Boundless: An Inclusive Guide outlines recommendations and practical next steps for making artist support opportunities more inclusive and accessible to all.

I have gotten so used to seeing applications closed to me that I have stopped looking for opportunities. It's demoralizing.

Anonymous Artist

Current Environment

Unfortunately, artist support organizations have often overlooked the needs of artists and storytellers from immigrant communities. Immigrant artists, especially those who are undocumented, have far less access to both paid and unpaid fellowships, residencies, and project funding due to unnecessary eligibility requirements.

When immigrant artists seek funding opportunities, they’ll first look for the eligibility criteria. Though there is not just one solution for making artist support opportunities more welcoming to these individuals, using inclusive and specific eligibility language is a helpful first step.

Define American, in partnership with the Collaborators Consulting Group, set out to understand the scope of available support for immigrant artists. First, we looked at the language arts funders and grantmaking programs used to specify eligibility.

[1] *includes Permanent Resident, Temporary Visitor, Immigrant artist (unspecified), DACAmented, Undocumented, Refugee, and Asylum Seeker.        


Of the 115 opportunities we reviewed, we found a noticeable lack of clarity around eligibility based on immigration status.


Only 39% of funding opportunities used specific language when identifying immigration status requirements.


From those 115 funding opportunities available to individual artists nationwide, only 33% explicitly state immigrant artists of various statuses [1] can apply.

The majority of national funding opportunities remain out of reach for immigrant artists.


In recent years, artist support organizations have made an effort to improve support for historically underserved communities including BIPOC artists and LGBTQ+ artists, but unfortunately the systemic inequities impacting immigrant artists and storytellers continue to be overlooked.

Creativity is Boundless: An Inclusive Guide outlines how arts funders, artist support, and grantmaking organizations can adjust internal policies to make support opportunities more inclusive and accessible to all immigrant, migrant, and undocumented storytellers.

Download the guide to get started.

Contact the Team

General Inquiries

Support our work

To support more research like this, make a gift to Define American.