Funding Avenues for The Arts & Artists – India Foundation for the Arts

India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) is the first independent and professionally managed grant-making organization for the arts in the country, which funds artists across the country and from varied fields.

Registered, as a public trust in 1993 and headquartered in Bangalore, IFA’s mission is:

  • To strengthen the arts through different approaches to arts philanthropy, filling gaps in the assistance available for culture and the arts in India.
  • To guide the activity of philanthropy in art, helping to diversify the sources, methods and strategies for assisting the field.

And arts, here, is not just its formal interpretation but applies to anything that has aesthetic aspiration. In that, the idea is to break away from its formal, colonial interpretation that has straitjacketed it in the Western mould. IFA is unique in being the only organizations to receive proposals for grants in eleven languages.

To fulfill its mission IFA makes grants:

  • To encourage research in the arts, strengthen underlying artistic processes, overcome constrains on creativity, and seed innovation;
  • To address unattended and urgent needs in specific areas of artistic endeavour;
  • To create space for the exploration of new connections and alliances in the arts.

IFA serves as a resource:

  • For the arts community, providing information and advice on management issues, training opportunities, relevant expertise, material resources and alternative avenues of support;
  • For the donor community, providing information, ideas and evaluation to assist existing arts donors, and to stimulate the growth of new initiatives to support the arts.

IFA enters into partnerships:

  • To add the pool of funding available to support the arts;
  • To act as a bridge between arts groups and donor community, carrying out grant making and other initiatives in the arts on behalf of its funding partners.

IFA mainly supports individuals, not institutions. On an average, 15 per cent of their funding is to institutions; the rest is directed towards individuals, as it perceives that creative people tend not to work in institutions.


Since 1995, IFA has supported over 100 projects across 17 states. These grants support theoretical investigations at one end and grassroots activity at the other.

IFA’s grant programmes variously respond to existing demand for assistance, provide opportunities for artists to explore untried or unconventional processes and new connections in the arts, or address systemic issues in the field.

IFA’s grants support all forms of cultural expression, while accomodating work that falls outside specific domains of art, blurs disciplinary boundaries or anticipates new modes of artistic production and presentation.

IFA’s activities are grouped under the following four main programmes:

Under the arts research and documentation programme, grants are made for research that relates to the concerns of arts practitioners or situates the arts within a larger historical framework. Attention is given to documenting threatened cultural forms and archiving valuable reference material for wider public use and action.

The arts collaboration programme fosters artistic convergence across different regions or disciplines. It enables artists to seek new sources of inspiration, sharpen understanding of their own practice and explore shared concerns. Collaboration can be supported to facilitate the creation of new work or adaptations, strengthen training methods or support systems for the arts or pave the way for fresh artistic departures and movements.

The arts education programme is concerned with enhancing the role of the arts in education. Priority is given to projects that build material resources, infrastructure and advocacy for arts education. Grants currently support independent arts initiatives in learning contexts, the introduction of arts curricula in schools, and research in education policy and teaching practices in the arts.

IFA has also established a theatre development fund to assist selected theatre groups to become influential centres of theatrical research, training and performance in their regions. The fund underwrites a management development programme for the groups and supports dialogues, sharing and joint action among them. In addition, grants have been made to strengthen theatre documentation and communication across linguistic regions.

IFA has provided assistance in such areas as performance studies and art history, heritage conservation and architecture, cinema and photography, folklore and crafts, painting and sculpture, literature, music, dance and theatre. Musicians and choreographers, painters and sculptors, film scholars and filmmakers, architects and conservationists, sociologists and art historians, craftspeople and folk performers have been among the beneficiaries of IFA’s support.

IFA has established a strong presence not only as a funding agency but also a resource for the arts and grant-making sector at large. Applicants are helped to translate interesting ideas into full-fledged proposals. Grantees are given information and advice on relevant expertise and documentation, and alternative avenues of support for their projects. IFA has also been appreciated for its role in facilitating the work of other grant makers, cultural organizations, universities, festival authorities, networks and professionals, both in India and abroad.

IFA adopts a stringent and meticulous process for reviewing proposals, and appoints external evaluators or advisory panels for the purpose. IFA ensures transparency and accountability by bringing out an annual report highlighting the content and progress of each grant. Applicants are often invited to discuss or demonstrate their project ideas before grant decisions are taken. Funded projects are monitored with care, concern and sensitivity. IFA thus ensures that its funds are allocated and used judiciously.

Standing for accessibility, responsiveness and resourcefulness, IFA reaches a wide audience since it has been able to develop a vision for arts funding unrestrained by disciplinary or regional boundaries. IFA is a learning organization, which actively draws upon the lessons emerging from its grant making and the experience of its grantees to strengthen its philanthropic efforts in support of the arts and culture in India.

India Foundation for the Arts

L-1, Tharangini, 12th Cross, Raj Mahal Vilas Extension, Bangalore – 560080, India
Tel/Fax: 91-80-3610583, 91-80-3610584
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