Ends on

FotoFocus is excited to announce Participating Venue Applications are now available for the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial. Proposed projects must have a confirmed venue during October 2024. 

There are two separate categories for FotoFocus Biennial Participating Venue Applications: Exhibition Project and Short-term Project. Participating Venues are considered for inclusion in the FotoFocus Biennial based on an application that demonstrates artistic merit and excellence, is in alignment with the FotoFocus mission, responds to the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial theme, and adheres to these Participating Venue Guidelines. 

Projects must include photography, film, or lens-based art for consideration. Venues must be located within the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Dayton and Columbus, Ohio regions to be eligible. 



This Participating Venue Application is for museums, galleries, universities, and non-traditional spaces that reside within the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Dayton and Columbus, Ohio regions that want to propose an Exhibition/Project to be a Participating Venue for the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial. 

If your proposal is a film program or screening, performance, pop-up, site-specific project, or non-traditional project format, please apply through the Short-term Project Application. Short-term Projects should be on view for a minimum of three days in the month of October, and not exclusively during the FotoFocus Biennial Opening Program (Thursday, September 26 through Saturday, September 28, 2024).


By completing the 2024 Participating Venue Application, Applicant agrees to:

  • Respond to the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial theme: backstories
  • Promote the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial on site at venue, in social media, on website, and in all promotional and educational materials related to the FotoFocus Biennial Exhibition/Project. Promo Guidelines will be provided by FotoFocus at a later date
  • Include educational and/or community engagement initiatives as part of the proposed programming
  • Include free and open exhibition hours for FotoFocus Passport Holders during the month of October 2024. Venue should offer a selection of weekdays and weekend-days throughout the month
  • Exhibition Projects should be on view for a minimum of two weeks during the month of October
  • Include examples of artist(s) work for the proposed Exhibition/Project
  • Follow guidelines set forth for FotoFocus and Biennial brand and logo usage. Promo Guidelines will be provided by FotoFocus at a later date
  • NOT host educational and/or community engagement events, including receptions, related to the FotoFocus Biennial (other than exhibition hours) during the restricted day of the FotoFocus Opening Program, Saturday, September 28, 2024 
  • Complete a final report following the closing of the Exhibition/Project, which will include attendance figures, as well as venue and visitor feedback. Report will be provided by FotoFocus at a later date


Timeline & Deadlines



Official Application Submission Deadline: September 15, 2023

Applications must be submitted by Friday, September 15, 2023, to ensure consideration for inclusion and funding as a 2024 FotoFocus Biennial Participating Venue.


Letters & Contracts Notification: December 2023

Applicants will receive notifications and contracts, if accepted, starting in December. A copy of the contract is to be signed and returned to FotoFocus by Monday, December 18, 2023.



Venue Marketing Form Deadline: March 1, 2024

All confirmed 2024 FotoFocus Biennial Participating Venues will need to submit promotional materials for inclusion in the Biennial website and printed materials by Friday, March 1, 2024. This Marketing Form will request promo materials such as, but not limited to, final Exhibition/Project start and end date, Exhibition/Project description, gallery hours, and promotional images with appropriate captions/credits. All specifications for the Marketing Form, as well as FotoFocus brand and logo guidelines, will be included in future correspondence from FotoFocus. 



Educational and/or Community Engagement Events Form Deadline: August 2024

The Educational and/or Community Engagement Events Form will request final Educational and/or Community Engagement Event details, including opening and closing receptions, related to Venue's accepted 2024 FotoFocus Biennial Exhibition/Project. Each accepted Exhibition/Project MUST have an Educational and/or Community Engagement Event offered during the run of the Exhibition/Project. Educational and/or Community Engagement Events can coincide with receptions. Educational and/or Community Engagement Events, including receptions, CANNOT take place Saturday, September 28, 2024.


Funding Structure

Select funding is available for Participating Venues that fulfill the criteria, but not all venues will receive funding and not all requests will be met at 100%. All venues awarded funding will receive 50% of the grant with the acceptance notification and contract in early December 2023. The first installment must be deposited no later than December 18, 2023. The remaining 50% will be received following successful execution of the Exhibition/Project and submission of the final report.


FotoFocus Biennial Grant Regulations

FotoFocus Biennial granted funds CAN support the following:

  • Artist and curator honorariums and fees
  • Artist lecture and curatorial travel expenses
  • Exhibition shipping and installation
  • Loan and/or participation fees
  • Catalogue/publication
  • Reception hospitality
  • Educational and/or community engagement programs  

FotoFocus funds are NOT to be used for any indirect expenses, such as the following:

  • Personnel expenses: salaries, taxes, and benefits for staff curators, security guards, educators
  • Facility expenses: utilities, maintenance, lease, or rental fees
  • Insurance
  • Office Supplies
  • Marketing and promotional expenses, such as paid advertisements  


Application & Image/Video Submission Process

The 2024 FotoFocus Biennial Participating Venue Applications are hosted on the Submittable platform. Applications are available on the FotoFocus website (FotoFocus.org/Biennial/2024). Each venue applicant will need to create a free account on Submittable, if one does not already exist. This platform allows the venue applicant to save, edit, and review the Application at any time before submitting the final Application. Venue applicants will be instructed via Submittable to upload images or videos of artist(s) work to be included in the proposed Exhibition/Project, or examples of artist(s) work if new work is being proposed.


Applying with more than one Exhibition/Project?

Each proposed Exhibition/Project must complete an individual application. If the venue proposes more than one Exhibition/Project at the same location, each Exhibition/Project must be submitted as a separate application.


Please Note: FotoFocus does not have access to your Submittable account information. If you have an account and lost your login information, you must follow the "Forgot?" process when signing in or email the Submittable Support Team at support@submittable.com.


Participating Venue Meetings

Meetings are held quarterly by FotoFocus for Participating Venues as informative sessions related to the Application and Biennial process. These meetings provide an opportunity for FotoFocus to share updates on the upcoming Biennial and for venues to share lens-based programming in the community. Participation is required for new applicants; it is not required for returning venues, but recommended. All meetings will be at 12pm and held in person at the FotoFocus office.  

Meeting Schedule (subject to change)

  1. May 5, 2023, Friday
  2. August 18, 2023, Friday
  3. Winter TBD, 2024, Friday
  4. Summer TBD, 2024, Friday



FotoFocus is pleased to announce the theme for the 2024 Biennial, backstories.

Photographs are flat surfaces. They reproduce segments of the three-dimensional world, but in two dimensions, and often in monochrome. Yet as viewers, we understand that so much more is going on beyond what is seen in a photograph. What is happening outside the frame? What happened just before the photograph was taken? What will happen after?

Backstories are stories that are not evident at first glance. They offer context for what happened previously or out of view, providing narratives not yet told or presented from a new perspective. Yet once told, they shed light on current circumstances and events. Backstories fill in where the evidence ends, adding nuance, solving mysteries, or simply telling us something we need to know.

To some extent, all histories are backstories. Histories emanating from archives, discovered through reporting, or revealed through gossip provide essential contexts for understanding a given photograph. Similarly, series of photographs have built-in backstories, offering greater context for those singular images we tend to valorize as “telling the whole story.” 

In all these instances, what is visible on the surface—what is easily photographed—is enlarged and enriched through an understanding of broader histories, by seeing beyond what is evident, by knowing the backstories.

FotoFocus invites proposals to participate in the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial: backstories

Suggested topics:

  • Photographic series, offering an enlarged understanding of subject matter through narrative and story-telling
  • Works by previously unknown artists
  • Surprising bodies of work by established and well-known artists
  • Bodies of work that offer a different perspective on received social or political truths
  • Film and photography that challenges our common understanding of contemporary life
  • Forgotten histories that help to explain social and economic conditions today  


2024 FotoFocus Biennial: backstories

October 2024

Biennial Opening Program: September 26–28, 2024


About FotoFocus

Founded in 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio, FotoFocus is a nonprofit organization created to celebrate and champion photography as the medium of our time through programming that ignites a dialogue between contemporary lens-based art and the history of photography. FotoFocus presents lens-based signature programming including the FotoFocus Biennial, FotoFocus Symposium, FotoFocus Talks Series, and Film and Video programming. Additionally, FotoFocus has awarded over 700 grants to support partners presenting projects and educational programs that are accessible and engaging to the public. These initiatives are a vital part of what makes FotoFocus such an impactful contributor to the community and the larger art world.


FotoFocus Biennials

Launched in October 2012, the FotoFocus Biennial is a month-long celebration of photography, film, and lens-based art held throughout the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and Dayton and Columbus, Ohio region every two years. The Biennial is the largest of its kind in America and has featured more than 2600 artists and participants, and 750 exhibitions and programs throughout its history. The Biennial is centered around a unifying theme and the cooperation of museums, galleries, academic institutions, and alternative spaces, in celebration of the FotoFocus Month of Photography.

The FotoFocus Biennial Opening Program constitutes the core of the Biennial, establishing the theme and dialogues that unite the broader programming. Featuring keynote lectures, conversations, performances, screenings, and receptions with international participants, the Program is designed to inspire conversations about the world through photography, film, and lens-based art.


Visit www.FotoFocus.org/Biennial for more information.

If you have any additional questions, please email FotoFocus at hello@fotofocus.org 

Printable 2024 FotoFocus Biennial Participating Venue Application Guidelines: https://www.fotofocus.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/2024-Participating-Venue-Guidelines.pdf 



By submitting the Application, you have read and agreed to the outlined Guidelines for the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial Participating Venues. If the Application is approved, FotoFocus has the right to edit and/or change submitted content language.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.