Agnes Denes, "Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan - Blue Sky, World Trade Center" (1982) (courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects and New York Foundation for the Arts)

A new Environmental Arts Grant will distribute awards up to $20,000 to women-identifying artists creating environmental public art projects in the United States and its territories. The program, a partnership between Anonymous Was a Woman and the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), will distribute a total of $250,000.

Qualifying themes include clean energy production, climate change, bioplastics, and ecofeminism, among others. The projects must both benefit and engage the public, and online programming is an accepted medium.

“Projects should not only point at problems, but aim to engage an environmental issue at some scale,” reads the announcement on NYFA’s website. 

Since 1996, Anonymous Was a Woman has granted $250,000 to 10 female artists over the age of 40 every year. These grants are particularly important given the gender discrepancies among mid-career artists: While woman artists aged between 18 and 24 make 97 cents for every dollar made by a male peer, women in the age range of 55-64 make only 66 cents.

In 2020, Anonymous Was a Woman partnered with NYFA to give an additional $250,000 in COVID-19 relief grants. This new Environmental Arts Grant, fully funded by the women-led organiztion, will also be an addition to its annual grant.

But unlike its annual grant, the Environmental Arts Grant will be open to all women-identifying artists above the age of 18. 

“We have previously used our platform at Anonymous Was A Woman to address the crisis of funding for women artists,” said the organization’s founder, Susan Unterberg, in an announcement. “Now, we are expanding our impact to fund work that addresses the climate crisis — and, crucially, inspires action.”

Susan Unterberg, fouder of Anonymous Was a Woman (courtesy Susan Unterberg)

In an email to Hyperallergic, Unterberg also drew attention to the effects of climate change on women specifically. “While the urgent crisis of climate change impacts every person on the planet, we are mindful of studies that show that women will bear a disproportionate burden of climate change, particularly in developing countries,” she wrote.

Unterberg’s assertion is backed by several United Nations reports. In one figure, the United Nations Development Programme stated that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women.

The selected projects must be completed by June 2023. Applications for the grant close on June 14 and recipients will be notified in August.

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Elaine Velie

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.