SVCREATES recognizes the region’s finest artists who have demonstrated a commitment to developing their art forms and to enriching the greater Santa Clara County region with exhibitions, performances, presentations, and service. The SVArts Award Program, including the SVLaureates and the Content Emerging Artist Award, awards unrestricted cash prizes to support artists while they pursue their creative work.

The purpose of the SVArts Award Program is to:

  • Recognize the artistic vibrancy and impact of our local artists
  • Provide monetary support to encourage continuing development of the artist’s work
  • Spotlight the important role individual artists play in contributing to a vital and creative community

Awards and Categories

Five awards of $5,000 will be awarded to artists in the following categories:

Artist Laureates (up to four awards): Laureates are typically mid-late career artists who have made significant advances in their work, have a clear mission for their artistic practice, and demonstrate leadership in their fields.

The SVArts application process has been simplified this year. Artist Laureate applicants may apply in their predominant area of artistic practice, within the categories listed below. Up to four laureate awards will be given, with the possibility of multiple awards given in one or more areas of practice.

    Visual Arts: including two and three-dimensional work that is created in the studio or in community spaces; including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture in all media, photography, video, mixed/multiple medias, installation, new or alternative medias and social practice art.
    Performing Arts: including art that is presented for an audience on a formal or informal stage. Applicants would include artists creating work that is developed offstage, backstage, or pre-performance (choreographers, composers, stage directors, stage/set/costume designers). Or performers themselves (dancers, actors, spoken word artists, instrumental/vocal musicians).
    Literary Arts: all written literary art forms.
Content Emerging Artist Award (1 award): Recognizing early career artists in all genres. Emerging Artists are defined as:
  • Having some evidence of professional achievement but not a substantial record of accomplishment
  • Rigorous in their approach to creation and production
  • Having a developing voice that reveals significant potential
  • Taking risks and embracing challenges

Note: This program does not include architecture, landscaping, industrial/graphic/computer systems design, journalism/photojournalism, or other commercial activities.

Awards will be presented at a public SVArts celebration in June 2020. In addition, all awardees will be featured in the June/July issue of Content Magazine.


Applicant must:
  • Be at least 18 years of age at the time of the application deadline.
  • Spend at least ten hours a week on and derive income from the practice/creation of art.
  • Have exhibited, performed, presented and/or published artistic work in a public context within the last three years.
  • Be the principal creator/performer or the sole author of work(s) submitted.
  • Be a resident of Santa Clara County or one of several bordering counties (Alameda, San Mateo, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties) for at least one year prior to the application deadline, AND can demonstrate through professional history that artistic activity has had significant impact on residents of Santa Clara County.
Applicant must not:
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student.
  • Be a prior recipient of an Artist Fellowship or Laureate from SVCREATES or Arts Council Silicon Valley.
  • Be a current or former employee or board member of SVCREATES/Arts Council Silicon Valley/1stACT Silicon Valley.

Review Criteria

SVArts Award applications are reviewed by independent review panels, comprised of distinguished professional artists and community arts leaders, representing a spectrum of disciplines. Awardees will be selected on a competitive basis. Each application is evaluated according to the following set of criteria:
  • 60 points: Artistic Quality – artistic quality and originality of work. (Based on work samples and discussion of artistic practice.)
  • 25 points: Community Impact – artist’s impact on audiences and the arts ecosystem in Santa Clara County. Impact may be demonstrated through work that reflects or speaks to the community; through regional engagement such as, presentation of works, teaching, public readings and/or performances, volunteering, mentoring, advocacy. (Based on professional resume and discussion of artistic practice.)
  • 15 points: Professional Development – continuity and exploration of the art form by the applicant. Commitment to pursuing artistic challenges and growth. (Based on professional resume and discussion of artistic practice.)

How to Apply

All application materials will be submitted through SVCREATES online application portal, which will open on November 1, 2019. Click here or on the red “Apply” button up in the right to log in to set up an account and get started.

Once you’ve entered the system, please review the complete application; detailed instructions are included in the application. Application requirements include: narrative questions, links to work samples hosted online, resume and professional references.

Emerging Artist applicants only: submit one letter of recommendation from an arts professional who knows your work well. It is the applicant’s responsibility to upload the letter. Letters should be no more than one-page, signed by the recommender and address the following questions:
  • What is your relationship to the artist? How do you know his/her work?
  • In what way is the artist an asset to the arts community in Santa Clara County?
  • Why should this artist be recognized as the 2020 Emerging Artist Awardee?

2020 SVArts Award Program applications will OPEN on November 1, 2019, and will be DUE by 5pm on Friday, December 20, 2019. Applicants will be notified of award decisions in March 2020.


Email your questions to staff or contact us to schedule a phone call. Please contact: Alyssa Erickson, Program Manager | 408-998-2787 ext. 204