American Arts Incubator: Request for Qualifications for Artists

ZERO1 is calling innovative digital and new media artists with a love of travel and passion for community-driven public art to apply to participate in American Arts Incubator.

American Arts Incubator (AAI) is an international creative exchange program developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and administered by ZERO1. The program utilizes community-driven digital and new media art projects to instigate dialogue, build communities, bolster local economies, and further social innovation.

Inspired by the business incubator model made popular by Silicon Valley’s technology and startup companies, American Arts Incubator is a hybrid training lab, production workshop, and tool for public engagement. At its core, AAI is a cross-cultural exchange of ideas that showcases artists as engaged and innovative partners in addressing social and environmental challenges. Selected U.S. artists team up with youth, women, people with disabilities, and underserved populations through country-based partnerships to inspire community engagement through art programs. AAI awards small grants to local participant teams to develop public projects addressing a social or environmental challenge relevant to their community. In doing so, AAI exchanges seed opportunities for ongoing, community-driven innovation by translating creative practices into projects and programming that can be sustained long after the U.S. artist leaves the overseas location.

Participating overseas locations for this opportunity will be announced in December 2018. View countries that artists have traveled to in previous rounds here.

Dates of Participation

Program duration is June 1, 2018 – August 31, 2019. Core dates for in-person participation include a weeklong orientation in the San Francisco Bay Area, tentatively scheduled for Fall 2018. International travel for 4 consecutive weeks will occur between January 2019 and May 2019 (specific dates will be determined collaboratively by the overseas U.S. Embassy, overseas host partner, ZERO1, and the selected artist). In addition, deliverables are expected in the months leading up to overseas travel and immediately following travel (e.g., project proposals, blog posts, program reports, documentation, etc.). Artists will be expected to document their experiences and project development before, during, and after overseas travel via the program’s website and selected social media platforms.

What We’re Looking For

We are seeking creative, adaptable, and culturally-sensitive digital and new media artists with experience in socially-engaged art, group facilitation, diverse collaborative environments, and project management. Artists must demonstrate how they have used their art practice to address social or environmental challenges, and how they have facilitated groups to work towards collective goals. Applicants should be proven self-starters who can work independently, respond to time-sensitive virtual communications, meet deadlines, incubate new ideas, receive feedback, and support overseas participants to develop their skills and apply them to the creation of projects that engage local communities.

Qualifying Criteria

Emerging, mid-career or established new media and/or digital artists

  • U.S. citizens at least 18 years of age
  • Strong record of artistic accomplishments
  • Proof of adaptability and capacity to work in international contexts
  • Relevant experience working with youth and/or underserved communities
  • Record of engaging with artists, youth, community organizations, and/or community members through teaching, workshops, social practice, artistic collaboration, or other outreach activities


The Artist will receive a USD $7,000 honorarium for participation, plus an assigned budget for workshop and public art production costs overseas. This budget is determined during the project proposal phase, prior to overseas travel. It is based on approval by ECA, the respective U.S. Embassy, and ZERO1. The program covers airfare, accommodations, and basic travel costs.


All submission materials must be received via the online application by Monday, January 15, 2018, 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time. There is no application fee.

Selection Process and Policies

AAI Artist selection will be a two-step process. Initial submissions received via the online application will be reviewed by ZERO1 and ECA. Finalists will be asked to submit a full application with more detailed responses to a second round of questions, as well as letters of reference. Finalist submissions will be reviewed by a panel of arts and social impact professionals, along with the Program Officer from ECA. This committee will recommend artists to each U.S. Embassy. Each U.S. Embassy selects an artist, and ECA gives final approval. Upon acceptance of invitation to participate as an AAI Artist, the Artist must agree and comply with the contract terms presented by ZERO1 for the duration of the program. ZERO1 has the right to accept or reject any responses received. ZERO1 is committed to diversity, and we encourage applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and persons with disabilities, as well as applications from researchers and practitioners from across the spectrum of new media disciplines and methods.

To apply, use the online application:


For more information about this opportunity, visit the FAQ page.

For more information about current and past AAI activities, visit the AAI website.

Download a pdf version of requirements

About ZERO1

We connect creative explorers in art, science, and technology to provoke new ideas that build engaged and vibrant communities. Founded in 2000, ZERO1 is a Silicon Valley nonprofit arts organization headquartered in San Jose, CA that aims to address and raise awareness about complex social challenges both locally and internationally. At ZERO1, we believe that art, at the frontier of technology, broadens our critical understanding of the world through experimentation, provoking new ideas, and implementing creative strategies. Through a global network of partners, we bridge the academic, corporate, and cultural worlds to foster collaboration and encourage social action. Visit:

About U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) promotes international mutual understanding through academic, cultural, private-sector, professional, and sports exchange programs. The Bureau’s exchanges engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and emerging leaders from all fields to increase global understanding of U.S. policies and values and to help American citizens engage with the world. More than a million people are alumni of ECA exchanges, including more than 50 Nobel Laureates and more than 320 current or former heads of state and government. Visit:

Photo by American Arts Incubator alumnus Michael Kuetemeyer.

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