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Audience Engagement Grant 2010 – Open Society Institute

In 2005, the Open Society Institute Documentary Photography Project (DPP) created the Distribution Grant – now called the Audience Engagement Grant – to support photographers who would like to take existing documentation of issues they care about and use that work as catalysts for social change. Created in the context of diminishing print media outlets, the grant promotes alternative models for presenting and disseminating documentary photography to the public. Moreover, they hope to stimulate innovation in designing projects that create meaningful interactions with photographic content.

The grant funds projects that go beyond inspiring audiences visually.

Target Group

The Audience Engagement Grant supports partnerships between individuals and organizations who are working on collaborative projects. Projects must involve:

  1. Photography Partner whose expertise is in documentary photography; and
  2. Audience Engagement Partner whose expertise is in the topic or community the project addresses.

A third Distribution Partner, whose expertise is in the dissemination or presentation method, may also be included, but is not required.

Each project partner should contribute resources to the project. These contributions may take the form of: content, expertise, services, administrative/logistical support, staff, organizational infrastructure, access, contacts/connections, equipment, space, or funding. Based on the experience of past grantees, we’ve found that the most successful projects engage all project partners equally. Partners should think of themselves as working collaboratively, while also committing a unique skill set to the project.

The grant funds projects that go beyond inspiring audiences visually. Open Society Institute is looking for projects that combine existing bodies of work with programming or tools that give viewers a deeper, more nuanced understanding of issues and/or empower them to participate in the process of improving their own or others’ realities.

Projects should include a partnership between individuals and organizations that combines expertise in documentary photography with experience working on the topic or community the project addresses.

Grant Value

The Audience Engagement Grant program provides 5-8 grants ranging from $5,000-$30,000 to support projects that use existing bodies of work. Please note that grant funds cannot be used to shoot new imagery. When selected projects closely align with the work of other Open Society Institute (OSI) programs or previously-funded projects, DPP will facilitate contact with relevant OSI program staff and former grantees.


Applications must be submitted using OSI Online Application System (OAS). Whether you are applying as an individual or an organization, please register and create a profile on OAS by selecting “Individual Grants” and “Audience Engagement Program – Full Application.”