The Crusade Engagement Grant awards $10,000 annually to the applicant with the best idea for building an audience for fine art photography.  

The 2014 Crusade Engagement Grant winner is Matthew Conboy, a Pittsburgh photographer who proposes to make art collectors out of newborn babies. Conboy's application says, “This project was born from the fact that a local hospital sends every baby home with a Terrible Towel, the towel that is waved at Pittsburgh Steelers football games. While I am a proud Steelers fan, I believe that babies could be sent home with something else that could change their lives and the lives of those around them – art.” Conboy’s project will send every baby born at West Penn Hospital over the next 12 months (3,000+) home with an original, signed photograph from a local photographer.

Out of hundreds of initial applications for the grant, a group of ten finalists (see below) were selected. These finalists all proposed promising and innovative projects. These finalists’ proposals were reviewed by an esteemed jury of photographic professionals, including Whitney Johnson (Director of Photography at The New Yorker), Karen Irvine (Curator and Associate Director at Museum of Contemporary Photography), and Rupert Jenkins (Executive Director at Colorado Photographic Arts Center). Conboy’s project was selected for its off-the-charts creativity. 

Juror Karen Irvine says, “Matthew Conboy’s proposal for new audience engagement displayed dazzling creativity. We are excited to award this grant to someone whose idea feels completely original and unique. We also like the way his project will engage an extremely diverse audience, one that is for the most-part probably not already circulating in the fine art realm.”

The Crusade Engagement Grant was created to foster the exploration of innovative programs to connect new audiences to photography. The grant will underwrite the full execution of Conboy’s idea (Start with Art). Conboy says, “The thing that excites me the most about this project is that I am sharing my love of art with an entire generation of kids in Pittsburgh. From the moment they're born, they will be collectors of art and photography and that is something that no one can take away from them.”

Click here to read more about Matthew Conboy's winning program idea!  You can also view the project website here:



Lisa Armitage, Joseph Gamble, Jamie Jackson, Marian Tagliarino, Cyndi Vickers, Mark Vickers (Tampa, FL) – photography subscriptions (Photo A Go-Go) (read this group's interview here)

  • This project creates a photography subscription program where members receive a selected print each month from one of twelve established or up-and-coming artists.

Boxman Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) – Zine Machine (read Boxman Press' interview here)

  • Boxman Press, a zine publishing collective, would use the grant to outfit a modified van to distribute zines and prints to people in multiple cities. Vending machines that dispense zines would create something similar to a food truck for art.

Cleveland Print Room (Cleveland, OH) – Cleveland Photography Events (read Cleveland Print Room's interview here)

  • This project would expose people in Cleveland to photography through unique and engaging events such as photo slams, PechaKucha-type outdoor events, and a public art poster.

Matthew Conboy (Pittsburgh, PA) – Newborn Collectors (read Matthew's interview here)

  • Matthew Conboy’s proposal for the Crusade Engagement Grant is to include a signed and numbered photographic print from an emerging Pittsburgh-based photographer in the hospital gift bags that go home with new mothers and babies. 

Matt Eich (Norfolk, VA) – Photobook Collective (read Matt's interview here)

  • Matt Eich proposes the creation of an imprint that releases limited edition artist books for a small roster of dedicated photographers. 

Larissa Leclair (Washington, D.C.) – Collecting Photobooks

  • Larissa Leclair would utilize the Indie Photobook Library to create an outreach program in DC to introduce targeted communities to photobooks with “evening at the library” events with participating photographers.

Lindsay Nicole (New Orleans, LA) – Photography Collections in Schools

  • Lindsay Glatz is proposing to develop a pilot program to establish a community-based marketplace for fine art photography in local schools by developing a collector-based curriculum and working with local photographers to display and purchase their work within the school setting. 

Jason Parker (Atlanta, GA) – Photography Billboards (read Jason's interview here)

  • This project seeks to introduce fine art photography to Atlanta commuters by bringing the work out of the galleries and inserting it into their daily lives by showing photography on digital billboards in high traffic areas.

Amy Parrish (Granville, OH) - Photography Collecting Reality TV Show (read Amy's interview here)

  • Amy Parrish wants to create a series of webisodes to pitch to a major television network. Each filmed episode would connect a homeowner to a piece of artwork, and in each episode a different artist and homeowner would be paired.

Ken Winnick (Shoreline, WA) – Speed Dating Events for Collecting (read Ken's interview here)

  • Speed Dating for Photos events will connect local photographers with potential collectors through events similar to traditional speed dating.  Artists have short conversations with potential collectors about their work, artists and collectors both rank their interactions, everyone has a great evening out, and collectors leave with a personally meaningful photograph.