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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.
  • Applicants must be residents of the State of Rhode Island for at least twelve consecutive months prior to the date of application. 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.

DIG grant recipients will be ineligible to apply for two deadlines following receipt of an award (for example, if you apply on October 1, 2009 and receive a grant, you may not apply again until October 1, 2012).

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 attend a DIG grants information session or contact Cristina DiChiera to discuss your application in detail.  You will submit one signed original grant applications, one copy of your CV or resume, and one disc with visual support materials such as jpegs, pdfs, etc.  All applications must be submitted on the forms online at:    

Artistic Support Materials

  • Please submit a draft representation of your design idea such as preliminary plans, elevations, sketches, or other visuals.  Jpegs can be submitted on disc.  Larger digital files (such as CAD drawings) should be submitted as pdfs or prints.  Please do not submit original or one-of-a-kind materials. 
  • Please submit 8-10 jpeg images on disc of design products or projects you have completed within the past three years. Images uploaded to the online system should be formatted to 1920 pixels x 1920 pixels and 72 dpi.  Images burned to disc should each be no larger than one MB and do not need to be formatted to a specific size. 

Professional support materials:

  • Please submit one copy of your resume or CV. 

Notes on submitting support materials:

We encourage applicants to upload images as jpegs, sound files as mp3s, wav and aiff files, and text documents online. You also have the option of sending discs, tapes and manuscripts by mail or delivering them to the RISCA offices by 4:30 PM on the deadline date. However, the basic application must still be submitted online.  For all materials delivered hard copy to the RISCA offices, please provide a Support Materials sheet with a numbered list of each artwork, including title, year of completion and other details according to each discipline as described below.  YOUR NAME SHOULD NOT APPEAR ON THE SUPPORT MATERIALS SHEET.   Please print your support materials sheet and include it with all artistic support materials sent to the RISCA offices.

    • 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 (with the exception of film and video, which must be completed within the past five years).
    • 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 Reference Sheet or according to the order submitted online. For each item please list on the Support Materials Reference Sheet or 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 at least one line describing 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.