Feasting Time Yet?

Thanks everybody for chiming in.

I agree Ute; it is nice to simply get a check in the mail. More of those please! I also think that its important that we reflect on why we are being successful and not successful; what worked for others and whether or not those are interesting models and telling of the kind of work that is compelling to a particular funder. We have to do our homework alongside the performances and theater productions we produced and the objects we make. The grant writing process has actually helped me tremendously in figuring out just what I’m talking about.

As our guests were arriving, I am afraid that my personal interest in capitalism and your interest and history with forms of socialism may side step some more immediate reflections on how to be more successful as grantors and artists. Let’s go back a bit. It is now time to talk about relationships and I will share a few items I have observed over the last several years between “the funded” and “those who fund.” I fear being too general, but there are a couple of axioms that seem really helpful on the artist side. Please pardon my “8 solutions to getting grants” approach but because I fail to receive yeses regularly, one can take my 8 steps of peer advice with a grain of salt. This is also probably geared more toward the emerging and post emerging as I recently heard someone say.

1) APPLY
Often, this eliminates 50% of the competition. If you don’t apply you definitely will not receive an award. For all of the people who know of more popular grants, funders must be relieved that not everyone applies who is qualified and knows about it. Applying is a practice. If treated as part of your creative experience, the writing will get better and your projects will have a better chance of being funded.

2) A SUCCESSFUL ARTIST APPLICATION IS AN EMPORWERED ONE
I have seen several kinds of both artist and organizational models. The ones that are most effective are the models where people feel not only that they have a relationship with their program officers or funding bodies, but also that the projects are worthy projects to be funded. Applications that show a parts of an artist’s personality, clear interests, professional ability and knowledge of their work’s relationship to the grant being considered will bode well. Its a lot to take in, but funders seem to talk often about what’s in their mission, how an artist exemplifies the ambition of the philanthropic organization’s mission. Research and relationship building are key factors to this idea of an empowered artistic project.

3) CHOOSE YOUR WORDS WELL
I am not the best writer and I have more ideas than time to clearly articulate them on paper, I’ve learned that its really important for me to slow down while writing and spend time after writing a first draft that, re-reading, editing and being as clear and concise as possible at all times. Which leads to my next point.

4) PUT OTHERS EYES ON IT
If time permits, I try to let others look at what I’ve written. When they return with areas of my proposal that doesn’t makes sense, chances are it will not make sense to others reviewing my ideas. Sometimes, you can even run creative ideas past the funders you are seeking funding from. When there are workshops, use your projects as the examples. Make them remember you.

5) SMALL PROJECTS CAN HAVE AMBITION
6) BIG PROJECTS CANT STRAY FROM CORE VALUES
7) IF THERE IS ADDITIONAL SUPPORT AND ADVICE, TAKE IT
8) SOMETIMES YOU WIN, SOMETIMES YOU LOSE- WHY IS STILL WORTH ASKING
Often, organizations are down to share feedback. I have learned that there is often someone in a room with jurors writing notes and for some of the more established funding bodies, those notes can be requested. If you feel like you had the most solid project and it wasn’t funded, call them up and ask why. Even if you won and want to know what worked finally, it’s worth a call. Remember that program officers are busy, but they are employed to think a lot about us!

9) DON’T LIVE FOR GRANTS

Not all of us are interested in maintaining full time employment and find extremely creative ways to make ends meet. A couple times in my artistic career, I have tried to bank on getting an award and usually, it didn’t work in my favor, leaving me with more discontent and a little hard on myself. I think expecting to write well, deliver good ideas and dreaming of success are all important things, but we should be careful not to not expect the existing governmental and institutional structures to completely shelter us financially. Getting grants is a great feeling and really helps to push artist’s opportunities and visibility in the cultural world, but they are gifts. I also wish there were even more structures to support local art and artists and I am hopeful that there will be soon, but in the meantime, diversify your hustle, live simple (I am not the one to talk about this), and work your ass off!

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