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Design Innovation Grant (DIG)

RISCA recognizes that Rhode Island is home to a wealth of talented design professionals who are skilled innovators, entrepreneurs and problem solvers.  The DIG program seeks to encourage these professionals to develop plans and concepts that represent a high level of creative problem solving and innovation in a design field. 

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) will offer one competitive $6000 grant annually to Rhode Island designers for design ideas that are highly creative and show potential for innovation and/or implementation.  Grant proposals should address one of the following goals:

  • Innovation of a specific kind of design, process or application
  • Creation of a product or service that has a potential public benefit

The DIG grant is a cash award for Rhode Island designers who demonstrate excellence and innovation in their field.  Awards are based upon samples of past work and proposals for future work.  Grant recipients are not required to pursue implementation of winning design proposals or completion of design projects.  However, award recipients will be asked to pursue the next phase of their project such as meeting with potential partners, creating more detailed schematics, creating a project development plan, etc. 

Grant Amounts:
One grant of $6000 will be awarded each year.

October 1


  • Applicants must be at least eighteen years of age.
  • Students pursuing graduate or undergraduate degrees in an arts discipline or an arts-related subject area at the time of application may not apply.
  • You must be A United States citizen or Green Card holder and a current, legal resident of the State of Rhode Island. You must have established legal residence in Rhode Island for a minimum of twelve consecutive months prior to the date of application and you must be a current legal resident of the State of Rhode Island at the time that grant funds are disbursed. Rhode Island State Law (§44-30-5) defines a "resident" as someone "who is domiciled in this state" or "who is not domiciled in this state but maintains a permanent place of abode in this state and is in this state for an aggregate of more than one hundred eighty-three (183) days of the taxable year. If an individual selected for a grant award is no longer a resident of the State of Rhode Island when funds are to be disbursed, the grant award may be withdrawn.
  • Applicants must be at least eighteen years of age. Students attending high school or students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in an arts discipline or an arts-related subject area at the time of application may not apply.

DIG grant recipients will be ineligible to apply for two deadlines following receipt of an award (for example, if you apply on October 1, 2014 and receive a grant, you may not apply again until October 1, 2017).

How to Apply:

Applicants apply through RISCA's online grant application system.

To register and then apply, go to http://www.arts.ri.gov/ind-apply

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Cristina DiChiera to discuss proposals in detail.  All applications including materials listed below must be submitted online at www.arts.ri.gov/ind-apply  

Artistic Support Materials

  • Up to 8 images as jpegs or pdfs to the online grants system. Each image may be as large as 2 MB. We recommend that you size your files as close to 2 MB as possible without going over that size limit. File names must include the number order in which they are to be viewed and the title of the work. (For example "1_alt_space_rendering") Large digital files (such as CAD drawings) may be attached as pdfs. Files that are too large to attach or video and other media may be emailed to cristina.dichiera@arts.ri.gov or shared via DropBox or GoogleDrive or brought to the RISCA offices on disc (4 copies) by the deadline.

Professional support materials:

  • A 1-3 page proposal that explains the design proposal from conception to implementation.

    This should include:

    1. Problem statement (what is the need or issue that your design project seeks to address?)

    2. Background or planning process (how did this problem come to your attention and how did you approach finding a solution?)

    3. Description of the design concept or project (including specific components, how it will function, it’s current phase of development, what would be the next phase of development, etc.)

    4. How this proposal is new and innovative and/or has a potential public benefit

    5. Desired outcomes (For example: Would you like to present your proposal at a design conference? Do you feel that your project could be realized with the proper resources?)

  • One copy of the applicant's resume or CV. 
  • A Support Materials sheet with a numbered list of support materials, including titles, years of completion, dimensions, materials, and any other information that will help the panel to understand visual materials.

Notes on submitting support materials:

We encourage applicants to upload images as jpegs, sound files as mp3s, and text documents online. You also have the option of sharing digital files via DropBox, GoogleDrive or Vimeo. All support materials must be received by 11:59 on October 1.

    • All support materials must be submitted on disc and/or online. No original or single editions of works will be accepted.
    • The applicant must submit work that has been created within the three years prior to the date of application.
    • The applicant must be the primary creative force behind the work.  Consequently, no other artist may submit the same piece as support material at this deadline or in any future RISCA application. Artists can submit the same support materials for a DIG grant and a Project Grant for Individuals if they are applying for both.
    • Please be aware that your work will be viewed one image at a time, in the order you have designated. Images should be numbered and arranged according to the Support Materials Sheet and according to the order submitted online. For each item please list on the Support Materials Reference Sheet and within the Description field online the title, medium, dimensions, year of completion.

Application Review Criteria

  • Proposals will be reviewed based upon:
    • 50% - Quality of the design proposal.  Applicants are advised to explain why or how their design idea is innovative and/or beneficial to the public. Panels will also be most interested in funding projects that are in their very early stages.  Please include in the DIG proposal an explanation of what phase your project is currently in (i.e. concept, draft, fundraising has begun, production and marketing have begun, etc.) and what the next phase of the project would ideally consist of.
    • 50% - Artistic Merit of the applicant.  Applicants are advised to submit samples of past work that is of the highest quality.  All work must be completed in the past three years.  Visual materials in support of the design proposal should also be of high quality in the form of jpegs, pdfs, or color copies. 

Application Review Process

  • All applications are reviewed by staff to determine compliance with eligibility requirements (see Eligibility section above).  Council staff may call upon applicants or grantees to furnish proof of their eligibility for a RISCA grant.
  • A panel consisting of one in-state member, one out-of state member and a third regional (not to exclude Rhode Island) design professional will review all applications on the basis of artistic merit, creativity, innovation, and project feasibility. 
  • The panel will recommend one DIG Award Winner.  Panels are strongly encouraged to recommend awards, but reserve the right to decline to make a recommendation if they feel that no applicant displays sufficient quality to warrant receiving a grant. 
  • The panel's recommendations are presented to the RISCA Council for approval.