Creative Arts Competitions

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

For more information contact:

Shannon Rose McAuliffe
Manager of Student Arts Programs
617.253.4004

Congratulations to Cosmosii, the 2022 $15K Creative Arts Competition winner!

The Etsy of custom goods, Cosmosii enables creators to turn their passion into profit through a community-oriented approach. This SaaS-enabled marketplace helps makers of custom goods find customers and run their business.


Finalists received $2,500 and are:

Aravani Art aims to embrace and create a livelihood for the transgender Community by creating consciousness and wellbeing through art, awareness, and social participation. Aravani Art trains the transgender community in mural public arts and receives commissioned projects from businesses for artwork.

Divine will allow creators to generate storyboards and concepts in the Unreal Engine within minutes, unlocking creative opportunity and saving creators time and money. In so doing, Divine provides a cost-effective entry point to the virtual production technology, bridging filmmaking, game development, and advertising to Web3.

Flux is an AI collaborator for creativity on demand.

Prisma is an NFT platform for physical art that helps galleries from the emerging countries to enter the NFT market by tokenizing their portfolios. Unlike other platforms, buyers can claim the physical piece or resell their ownership rights, creating a more liquid and accessible market for all.

Criteria and Frequently Asked Questions

Details about eligibility, judging criteria, and common questions.

Timeline and Application Process

Join the competition up until the application deadline on Wednesday, February 9, 2022. Watch the finalists make their pitch live on May 12, 2022.

Past Recipients

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

Resources, Events & Virtual Workshops

Upcoming Events

Pitch Finale

May 12, 2022 / 5:00 – 8:00pm

Finalists submit their completed business plans for pre-consideration by judges. Each team will then pitch live, presenting their venture plans to a panel of esteemed adjudicators. Following deliberation, a winner will be announced and the $15K prize will be awarded to the winning team. 

Resources from Past Events

IAP Course: How to Talk (and Write About) Your Arts-Based Venture

January 18-24, 2022

This series will help prepare students to present their ventures in writing and discussion in a way that is clear, concise, and compelling. The aim is to help student venture teams succeed in creating their $15K Creative Arts Competition application and equip students to effectively promote their entrepreneurial projects in “pitching” situations.

Contact Shannon Rose McAuliffe shanrose@mit.edu to register.

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.

2020 – 2021 Competition Kick-off Conference

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

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).