MIT Creative Arts Competition

The $15K Creative Arts Competition is an annual contest established in 2013 to foster arts-focused startups at the Institute. The $15,000 prize is awarded as a grant to help launch the winning enterprise and enable the recipient(s) to join the ranks of MIT’s most successful startup founders.

The Competition offers more than just financial support; all teams have access to specialized programming at the START Studio, MIT’s own arts entrepreneurship incubator and makerspace located in the Stratton Student Center, building W20.

Competition participants are invited to workshops designed to accelerate arts-focused ventures throughout the duration of the year-long competition. Teams receive mentorship from past prize winners, distinguished faculty, and MIT alumni. Mentorship encompasses pitch preparation, business plan coaching, customer development advising, and more.

Participating teams apply in early spring and are expected to develop their business plan over the course of the competition with assistance from mentors, workshops, and staff support. In late April, the finalists are chosen by preliminary judges to present their venture to a live judging panel for a chance to win $15,000.

The 2020 $15K Creative Arts Competition is supported by the Council for the Arts at MIT

Mentorship provided with support by

Mentorly.com

For more information contact:

Shannon Rose McAuliffe
Manager of Student Arts Programs
617.253.4004

Criteria and Frequently Asked Questions

Details about eligibility, judging criteria, and common questions.

Application Process

Join the competition up until the application deadline on Friday, February 5, 2021.

Past Recipients

Businesses ranging from online music mentorship to VR for the blind.

Resources & Virtual Workshops

Upcoming Events

IAP Course: How to talk (and write about) your artistic practice and arts-based entrepreneurial projects

January 7, 14, 21 & 28 / 4:00-5:00pm

In this 4-week practical workshop taught by the staff of the Office of the Arts, you’ll learn how to talk about, write about, and pitch artistic projects and ventures. You’ll develop an elevator pitch, artist and/or project statement, and learn how to write persuasively about your work for grant applications and awards or competitions, as well as learn best practices for developing a pitch deck or curating a portfolio. This series of linked workshops will also help prepare you to participate in MIT-specific arts opportunities, including funding from the Council for the Arts at MIT, Student Art Awards, Wiesner Art Gallery exhibitions, and the $15K Creative Arts Competition. Space is limited to 30.

Past Events

Non-Profit Business Plans with Miguel Rodriguez

Monday, December 21, 2020 / 7:00-8:00 pm

This session helps students interested in the competition’s non-profit track to build out a robust business plan by identifying target impact, stakeholders, key partners, and more. We are joined by guest facilitator Miguel Rodriguez, who is the founder and president of Athlone Artists and has held executive positions with Boston Baroque, Opera Boston, and Boston Landmarks Orchestra.

For-Profit Budgets with Kit Hickey

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 / 7:30-8:30 pm

This session is aimed at helping for-profit venture teams create a prospective budget to support your venture’s early growth. Kit Hickey, co-founder of Ministry of Supply and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Martin Trust Center will share her experience budgeting to support growth in a company’s early stages. 

Non-Profit Budgets with Julia Turnbull

Monday, December 7, 2020 / 7:30-8:30 pm

This session focuses on how to create a prospective budget to effectively plan for your non-profit venture’s growth. Julia Turnbull, Assistant Director for Student Programs at the Legatum Center, will discuss her experience evaluating budgets and grant funding for the Inter American Development Bank. 

Building your For-Profit Business Plan with Carly Chase

Sunday, December 6, 2020 / 5:00-6:00 pm

Carly Chase, Managing Director of the MIT NYC Startup Studio and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Martin Trust Center will be sharing guidance on how to build a strong plan for your arts-related venture. You’ll hear professional tips for building out dimensions from target customers to key suppliers and everything in between.

Building Your Value Proposition with Dr. Michael Camp

November 19, 2020 / 7:30 pm

Dr. Michael Camp, Executive Director of Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation at Ohio State University, leads a workshop on how to build and articulate your value proposition as an arts-related venture.

Kick-off Conference

October 25, 2020 / 1:00-3:30pm

Wendy Swart Grossman and Jen Guillemin, co-founders of Creative Re/Frame, present their keynote address, “Bringing Meaning to the Marketplace: Make*Care*Strategize*Implement.” Panel discussion featuring Competition mentors and past winners of the $15K, who share their experiences, successes, and wisdom with us. Panelists include Maria Esteban Casanas and Michael Stradley (Elements, 2020 $15K Winners), Ellen Shakespear (Spaceus, 2018 $15K Second Prize), Nir Hindi (Mentor, Founder of The Artian), and Jon Corbiere (Mentor, CEO of Thought Cafe).d

Additional Information and Opportunities

Arts E-ship Launchpad WhatsApp

This informal community of arts-minded entrepreneurs will act as a place for people to make introductions, collaborate, build, and share ideas. We’ll use this platform for $15K Creative Arts Competition team-building and ad hoc meetups/virtual networking events, among other things!

January IAP Course: Communications Bootcamp for Artists and Creative Entrepreneurs

In this 4-week workshop, you will learn how to talk about, write about, and pitch artistic projects and ventures. You’ll develop an elevator pitch, artist and/or project statement, and learn how to write persuasively about your work for grant applications and awards or competitions. You’ll also learn best practices for developing a pitch deck or curating a portfolio. This course will help prepare you to participate in MIT-specific arts opportunities, including funding from the Council for the Arts at MIT, Student Art Awards, Wiesner Art Gallery exhibitions, and the $15K Creative Arts Competition.

Meet the Judges (exclude from live page)

The Grants Committee oversees the CAMIT Grants Program, which provides support to MIT students, faculty, and staff for arts projects.

Eran Egozy ’95

MIT Professor of the Practice in Music Technology

Eran Egozy is an entrepreneur, musician, and technologist. He is the co-founder and chief scientist of Harmonix Music Systems, the music-based video game company that created the revolutionary titles Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central with sales in excess of one billion dollars. Eran and his business partner Alex Rigopulos were named in Time Magazine’s Time 100 and Fortune Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40. Eran is also an accomplished clarinetist, performing regularly with Radius Ensemble, Emmanuel Music, and freelancing in the Boston area.

Prior to starting Harmonix, Eran earned degrees in Electrical Engineering and Music from MIT, where he conducted research on combining music and technology at the MIT Media Lab. Now back at MIT, his research and teaching interests include interactive music systems, music information retrieval, and multimodal musical expression and engagement. His current research project, ConcertCue, is a program-note streaming mobile app for live classical music concerts that has been featured with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and New World Symphony.

Wendy Swart Grossman

Creative practitioner, consultant, professor of Cultural Entrepreneurship

With a background in US and South African presidential campaigns – clarity, communication and deadlines are Wendy’s strength. As a Creative Practitioner and Consultant Wendy brings her expertise in building effective partnerships, strategic planning, board development, measurable outcomes, communication, and workshop facilitation to the table. Wendy is a connecter, a political and community organizer, a logistical wizard, and a visionary advocate/activist for community building and engagement. She has held positions at Harvard’s Museum of Science and Culture and the Graduate School of Design as well as The Science Museum in London, UK and scores of NGO’s, non-profits and social impact businesses nationally and internationally. She is also an Adjunct Faculty member at Boston University within their Graduate Arts Administration Program.
Wendy holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from St. Olaf College and a master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy from Tufts University.

Mary Hale, AR ’09

Creative practitioner, consultant, professor of Cultural Entrepreneurship

Mary Hale is a graduate of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning where she completed a Master’s degree in Architectural Design.
While at MIT, Hale developed considerable experience designing and constructing one-to-one scale projects meant to engage the human body. In 2015, Hale was the recipient of the highest award given to associate AIA members.