U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowships


Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC)

The 2019-2020 U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowship Program: Special Opportunity

In 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched the first artists-in-residence program at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. The program offered artists the chance to provide their own interpretation of the Games and thus open up Olympism and its values to the widest possible audience. In 2018, for the first time in history, the IOC invited Olympians who are also artists to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Korea, to be a part of the Olympic Art ProjectOlympians used their talents to share a different view on the Games through the film “Olympic Dreams” and a one-of-a-kind painting.

As a longtime supporter of the arts in the U.S.-Japan context, and with its strong relationship with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) is uniquely positioned to play an important artistic role in bringing U.S.-Japan artistic collaboration to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

In 2020, the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will be held in Tokyo, Japan. This event offers longtime partners, JUSFC and NEA the opportunity to highlight U.S.-Japan collaboration and the U.S.-Japan relationship. JUSFC and NEA invite leading contemporary and traditional artists from the United States to apply for a unique collaborative artistic fellowship designed to highlight U.S.-Japan artistic partnerships during the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The completed collaborative artistic projects will be showcased in Tokyo during the Olympic Games July 24-August 9, 2020, and/or Paralympic Games August 25- September 6, 2020.

Application Deadline: March 1, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Special Guidelines in 2019-2020*

JUSFC and NEA will support and select up to five collaborative projects of U.S.-Japan artists representative of diverse genres and regions of both countries.  Alumni of the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Program are encouraged to apply. Please refer to How to Apply for detailed instructions. This is a special, modified program in 2019-2020.

As always, there are two application deadlines for the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowship. The first is for the application cover sheet. The cover sheet must be submitted as an attachment to an email, to JUSFC.creativeartist[at]arts[dot]gov by 11:59 p.m. on March 1, 2019. The deadline for the narrative response questions, resume, letters of recommendation and work samples submission is 11:59 p.m. March 29, 2019. Results will be announced by early July 2019.

Grant Award (modified)

Each collaborative team will receive a $25,000 fellowship award and up to $2,500 for one round trip airline ticket between the United States and Japan.
The collaborative team will have one year (July 1, 2019-July 1, 2020) to complete their project. The award may be used for any expenses directly related to the project, including, but not limited to living expenses in Japan, cost of project materials etc.
The artists must complete a collaborative work incorporating the vision of the Olympic and Paralympic games to present in Tokyo during the Games in 2020.
The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission will collaborate with public and private sector organizations in and around Tokyo to host performances and presentations of the artists’ works.
Exhibition sites will be selected depending on the specific project.

Review Criteria and Selection Process

The U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Program is extremely competitive; only up to five artists will be  selected for travel to Japan.  In 2019-2020 applicants should anticipate a highly rigorous review of their artistry and should have compelling reasons for wanting to create a captivating piece of art, in collaboration with a Japanese colleague, for the Olympic and Paralympic games. Their work must exemplify the best in U.S. and Japanese arts. Generally, this means that only those artists who have demonstrated expertise and established professional recognition (e.g. awards, featured shows, publications, etc.) in their field either regionally or nationally or who have shown truly exceptional promise at the local level are likely to be competitive. Proficiency in the Japanese language is not required.

Applications will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Clear representation of themes including, diversity and inclusion – “Unity in Diversity”, sustainability, building a better tomorrow, peace and prosperity, and highlighting the unique relationship between Japan and the United States.
  • The artistic excellence of the applicant’s work and artistic merit of the proposed collaboration;
  • The extent to which working in Japan is consistent with the applicant’s artistic vision and would contribute to his or her artistry;
  • The applicant’s potential to contribute to increased cultural understanding and dialogue with Japanese artists and/or the Japanese public;
  • The availability of resources in Japan that are necessary to the artist’s proposed collaboration;
  • Ability to live and work in unfamiliar settings under different conditions

With the assistance of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Japan U.S. Friendship Commission will convene a panel to review applications. The panel will include previous recipients of the U.S.- Japan Creative Artists Program award, as well as other arts professionals with expertise in working with the Olympics and Japanese culture.

Primary Eligibility

  • The applicant must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States and live and work professionally in the United States.
  • All proposals must be collaborations between a U.S. artist (or group of artists) and a Japanese artist who is a citizen or permanent resident of Japan and living and working professionally in Japan.
  • The applicant and their Japanese collaborator must be a professional creative artists (contemporary or traditional) working as but not limited to: architects, choreographers, musicians, composers, creative writers, designers, media artists, playwrights, librettists, visual artists and  theater artists who work with original material (including puppeteers, and performance artists).
  • The proposed collaborative artistic project must be a new artistic venture, or something that the collaborative team is in the process of developing, and must have a completion date of July 1, 2020.
  • The proposed collaborative artistic project must touch on one or more of themes ncluding, but not limited to, diversity and inclusion – “Unity in Diversity”, sustainability, building a better tomorrow, peace and prosperity.
  • There are additional eligibility requirements for librettists, playwrights, and creative writers (fiction, non-fiction, and poetry) outlined below.
    • Librettists and playwrights must have had a full-length work professionally produced and/or published in the United States at least once in the last five years.
  • Creative writer applicants must meet specific publishing requirements. Self- published work will not satisfy this eligibility requirement. In the last 10 years writers must have published at least one of the following:
    • Twenty poems in five or more literary journals
    • Five different short stories or essays (of creative non-fiction) in two or more literary journals, anthologies, or publications
    • A book of poems of more than 48 pages
    • A novel or a novella
    • A book of creative non-fiction
    • Creative writer applicants may use online publications to establish up to fifty percent of their eligibility, provided that such publications have competitive selection processes and stated editorial policies.
    • The following may not be used to establish eligibility:
      • Pre-publication material, such as galleys, proofs, and advance reader’s
      • Work that has appeared in a publication for which you are the editor, publisher, or staff
      • Collaborative work
      • Scholarly writing including Instructional writing, Book reviews, Editorials/letters to the editor, Student publications and publications that primarily print work by persons who are affiliated with a particular academic institution, any publication by presses that: require individual writers to pay for part or all of the production costs; require writers to buy or sell copies of the publication; publish work without competitive selection or a stated editorial policy; or publish work without professional editing.

Please visit How to Apply for detailed instructions. Please note, if you submit your application cover sheet by March 1, you will receive your username and password on March 25. You will have until March 29 to upload your materials and submit your letters of recommendation. Application cover sheets submitted after midnight ET on March 1, 2019 will not be considered. 

The Japan U.S. Friendship Commission sponsors this program with administrative assistance from the National Endowment for the Arts. This is a federal grant. All **grant recipients** must have a valid DUNS number (if you are selected, you must acquire a DUNS number prior to accepting Federal funds). For more information about the DUNS number, please visit the FAQ section.

**Grant Applicants do not require a DUNS number at the time of application submission**


About the Program

The Japan U.S. Friendship Commission offers leading contemporary and traditional artists from the United States the opportunity to spend three to five months in Japan through the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Program.  Artists go as seekers, as cultural visionaries, and as living liaisons to the traditional and contemporary cultural life of Japan.  They also go as connectors who share knowledge and bring back knowledge. Their interaction with the Japanese public and the outlook they bring home provide exceptional opportunities to promote cultural understanding between the United States and Japan.

Since 1978, the Japan-US Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) have worked  with the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan and the International House of Japan (I-House) to organize the United States-Japan Creative Artists’ Program. Each year five leading U.S.-based artists, representing all genres, are selected from the United States and are provided funding to spend three months in Japan.

This residency program allows the artists to research and experience both the traditional and contemporary artistic milieu of Japan. Artists are free to live anywhere in the country to pursue activities of greatest relevance to their creative process. While many artists chose to remain in Tokyo, others live in Kyoto or other cities, and still others work in rural settings or travel around the countryside. The International House of Japan provides in-depth orientation materials, expert advice and professional contacts, as well as logistical support during the residency period.

The program, which remains a high priority for the Commission and the NEA, is highly competitive and attracts several hundred applications each year. Since 1978, 170 U.S. artists, representing a diverse range of disciplines, have been selected to travel to Japan for this residency.

Opportunity Opens

Friday, Dec 21st 2018

Opportunity Closes

Friday, Mar 1st 2019, 10:45pm

Application Location

MN Artists