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American Arts Incubator: Request for Qualifications for Artists

Access PDF version of request for qualifications

American Arts Incubator (AAI) is a creative exchange program that utilizes community-driven digital and new media art projects to instigate dialogue, build communities, bolster local economies, and further social innovation. Each incubator addresses a relevant social or environmental challenge such as economic equity, youth empowerment, gender equality, and environmental health.

American Arts Incubator is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs developed in partnership with ZERO1.

The countries selected for AAI 2020 will be announced in early 2019 before finalists are invited to submit a full application. For more information about the program, visit

Deadline and Fees

Sunday, January 13, 2019, 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time. There is no application fee.

Dates of Participation

Program duration is June 1, 2019 - August 31, 2020.

Core dates for in-person participation include:

  • Fall 2019 — 1 week orientation in the San Francisco Bay Area in October or November.
  • Spring 2020 — 4 consecutive weeks of overseas exchange to be scheduled between February and May.

Some deliverables are expected in the months leading up to and immediately following overseas travel (e.g., project proposals, documentation, evaluation, etc.).


  • Emerging, mid-career, or established artists working with new media and/or digital art
  • Experience with teaching, facilitation, group collaboration and/or social practice
  • U.S. citizens residing in the U.S. that are at least 18 years of age

American Arts Incubator Program Basics

AAI sends U.S. artists abroad to lead collaborations with local communities that address a relevant social or environmental challenge using digital and/or new media art. Each exchange is supported by the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate and a host partner organization. There are four main activities that occur during the month-long incubator:

  1. Artist talk — Artist gives a public talk about the incubator and their artistic work to a local audience.
  2. Workshop series — Artist facilitates workshops to transfer skills in art, science, technology, and entrepreneurship to participants while facilitating dialogue and explorations around the given social challenge.
  3. Project development — Artist guides participant teams to build creative project prototypes which apply workshop skills to the social challenge.
  4. Open house — The incubator culminates in an open house that showcases the teams’ prototypes and solicits public feedback through a panel review.

After the international incubators are complete, ZERO1 will host one visiting international participant from each exchange country for 10-day professional development workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area to further build participant skills.

PLEASE NOTE: AAI is NOT an artist residency or commissioning program, nor does it support the development of the selected artists’ individual work. Participation in the program is an opportunity to serve as a cultural envoy and group facilitator by leading the exchange of knowledge and skills in art, science, technology while learning about the given social challenge in each exchange location.

Who We’re Looking For

ZERO1 is calling innovative digital and new media artists who have a record of:

  • Social engagement — Artist has shown a commitment to their communities and have a practice that has addressed social and/or environmental challenges.
  • Collaborative leadership — Experience facilitating dialogue and leading diverse groups towards collective goals through teaching, workshops, social practice, artistic collaboration, or other outreach activities.
  • Cultural sensitivity and adaptability — Experience working in international contexts and comfortable “rolling with it” when conditions change on the ground.
  • Strong project management and communication skills — Artists are independent self-starters, familiar with virtual collaboration tools, and responsive to the needs of multiple stakeholders.
  • Artistic excellence — A strong record of artistic accomplishments that demonstrate innovative use of digital and new media.


The program covers airfare, accommodations, and basic travel costs.The artist will receive a USD $7,000 honorarium for participation, plus an assigned budget for workshop production costs overseas. This budget is determined during the project proposal phase, prior to overseas travel. It is based on approval by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), the respective U.S. Embassy, and ZERO1.

Selection Process

AAI artist selection will be a two-step process. Initial submissions received via the online form 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 references in January 2019. Finalist submissions will be reviewed by a panel of arts and social impact experts, along with the Program Officer from ECA. This committee will recommend artists to U.S. embassies in the exchange countries. 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 is committed to diversity and encourages 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.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State strives to ensure that its efforts reflect the diversity of U.S. society and societies abroad. The Bureau seeks and encourages the involvement of people from traditionally underrepresented audiences in all its grants, programs and other activities and in its workforce and workplace. Opportunities are open to people regardless of their race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. The Bureau is committed to fairness, equity and inclusion.



ZERO1 leverages art, science, and technology to create social change. Founded in 2000, ZERO1 is a Silicon Valley nonprofit arts organization headquartered in San Jose, CA that aims to address complex social challenges, both locally and internationally, utilizing community-driven new media and digital art projects. We believe that artistic experimentation with emergent technologies broadens our critical understanding of the world and provokes novel creative strategies. Through a global network of partners, we bridge governmental, academic, corporate, and cultural worlds to build engaged and vibrant communities that drive social action. Visit

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) builds relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, professional and private exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships and mentoring programs. These exchange programs improve foreign relations and strengthen the national security of the United States, support U.S. international leadership, and provide a broad range of domestic benefits by helping break down barriers that often divide us. Visit



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