More accessible than New York City and less stuffy than Washington DC, Baltimore is home to an enormous pool of artistic talent that is teeming with ideas, ideas whose realization is only held back by lack of funding. The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA) has recently stepped in to fill this vacuum by providing direct financial grant support to individual artists with the Rubys.

The Rubys are a regional program that make grants of up to $10,000 available for artists to execute long-dreamed of or newly inspired creative projects. A total of $120,000 will be awarded in 2014 alone. The Rubys support the region’s gems—the local creative community of performing, visual, media, and literary artists. Grants will be made to artists of all disciplines living in Baltimore City or the five surrounding counties (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard).

GBCA executive director, Jeannie Howe, says, “This program is an important complement to the Baker Artists Awards and the Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize in making Baltimore a region rich with support for individual artists. We are so grateful to the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation for their vision in initiating and providing seed funding to launch the grants.”

What does this new program mean for the region’s creative class? This is an unprecedented opportunity for artists to bring projects to fruition that have long percolated in his or her idea bank, or inspire a new artistic endeavor. Moreover, the Rubys do not have creative restrictions, instead, artists will tell GBCA what they can do with this grant money.

Grants are open to artists in all disciplines: performing arts, media arts, visual arts, and literary arts. There will be two granting rounds per year, with each round focusing on two of the four disciplines. The first cycle, which opened on December 1, is accepting project proposals in the Performing and Media Arts.

What encompasses performing and media arts? Dance, music, theater, musical theater, opera, puppetry, performance art, playwriting, spoken word, storytelling, traditional/folk art, film, audio and video projects, animation, computer graphics, sound art, digital arts, screenplay, and teleplay, to name but a few examples. Cross-disciplinary, experimental, and emerging art, are also encouraged.

These new grants intentionally support the process of creating original work. The grants value artists’ time, labor, and development of their unique innovations and ideas, and the role that artists play in creating a thriving metropolitan region and one in which artists can live, work, and engage in the community.

The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance promotes the many contributions of the cultural sector—from artists, to organizations, to major institutions—and works to ensure they are recognized and supported. By bringing the cultural community together, GBCA ensures that the sector has a voice at the table with policy makers, civic leaders, and philanthropists. Programs and services include professional development, funding, advocacy, and leadership opportunities.

Grant applications are currently being accepted online. More information, downloadable grant guidelines, direct link to the online application, and contact information can be found on the GBCA website:

The submission deadline for the first round of grants (Performing Arts and Media Arts) is Sunday, February 2, 2014. Selected grantees will be notified in spring 2014. The second round of grants (Visual Arts and Literary Arts) will open for applications on May 1, 2014.