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Louisville Investment Firm Partners With Photography App On New Artist Grant Program

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A new grant program aims to make photography more accessible to everyone — even those without fancy equipment.

Last week, the Louisville investment firm Access Ventures announced they would be partnering with VSCO — a California-based company that developed a photography app — on a new artist grant program called VSCO Voices.

Ben Terry is a creative partner at Access Ventures.

“VSCO — pronounced ‘visco’ — is shorthand for Visual Supply Company,” Terry said. “They are a company in Oakland that creates an iPhone app and also film packs that go on the computer, so they are really popular amongst photographers to use their filters and tools to make images look a lot better.”

VSCO Voices will offer a $20,000 grant and mentorship opportunities for five U.S.-based visual artists; the intention of the program is to "lift up voices from marginalized communities." It’s similar in many ways to the Getty Images Instagram grant program.

Per a release, “applications will be selected based on relevance to this year's grant theme, and based on criteria including thoughtfulness, passion, as well as continued commitment to the community described.”

Terry said partnering with VSCO on this mission makes sense in a lot of ways. The first is that since VSCO is a smartphone-based app on which applicants can upload images of their art, it eliminates some of the cost of expensive photography equipment.

Additionally, the app differs from other social media platforms.

“One thing that makes them really interesting is that there are no likes or comments in their photo app, so the idea is they want to build a community of creators that’s a safe space for images and share those images,” Terry said.

Terry said this was especially important as they are hoping this project will allow artists to present untold stories about their communities.

“We want people who are doing great things, but their stories aren’t being heard or, you know, there are some great people who haven’t been given voice to, kind of,” Terry said. “So some of those stories we are hoping will come out are real, authentic and connected — these creators have a connection to the communities they are presenting.”

VSCO Voices applications will open and the grant theme will be announced Feb. 5, 2018. To qualify for the grant, you must be a VSCO community member (this means that you have a VSCO profile), U.S.-based, and at least 18 years of age.

The application requires your general information and portfolio, as well as your project idea, art medium, and required funding. More information is available here.