I’m sure we can all agree that we would love to live comfortably from the sale of our artworks and creations. Our art sales would fund exciting new projects, giving us complete creative liberty to craft what we want, when we want.
Alas, that isn’t the reality for 99% of artists. We juggle multiple jobs and sometimes we create something because we know it will help pay the bills. COVID hasn’t helped in that regard. What it has done though, is shine a light on the financial flux that most artists live in, and best of all, this has generated a number of new and expanded art grants and funding.
Even as arts organisations we have to put our hands up for funding to supplement our income. Now we just need to know how to take advantage of them and improve our chances of being a successful recipient!
When I’m not painting, I’m helping businesses improve their marketing and branding. And in between painting and working on and in my business, I’m the Vice Chair of a community art centre, plus I’m the (crazy!) person who volunteered to apply for grants on their behalf. And I’m also writing a book, but that’s a story for another day!
Now, back to the information you really want – how to apply for art grants and funding.
Not matter the value, $5,000 or $500,000, these are the things I’ve learnt personally as an artist applying for grants and as a professional working on behalf of a not-for-profit.
1. Your grant will be rejected.
It isn’t personal, learn from it, improve your submission for the next one and move forward. Keep trying and you will be successful.
2. Know what you want.
Don’t wait for the grant to appear before you start working on your submission. The grant and funding application windows are notoriously small between opening and closing. Have the foundations in place and then adjust depending on the grant and its criteria. You might have to apply for multiple grants to fund different sections of your project, whether it is an art exhibition, artist in residence, research or creating a new body of work.
3. Grants are specific and targeted.
Don’t waste your time applying for grants where your project doesn’t meet the focus of the grant. If the grant is designed to support projects bringing art education to rural areas and your art project is to produce a body of work encapsulating the urban progression of graffiti art, move on. Keep looking for the next opportunity.
4. Do your research.
Know exactly how much things will cost. Get quotes. Prove that you’ve done your research and you know what is involved – timeframes, budgets, services, venue options, marketing etc. You will not receive a cheque and given carte blanche to go shopping.
5. Practise on small grants.
Test out the water and start to build your writing skills and strategic planning. You’ll be surprised how you can build on and adapt the content for different submissions; even more so when they give you feedback on why your submission wasn’t successful.
6. This isn’t about you.
Yes, we want to pay the bills. Yes, we want funding for creative liberty. No, this will not get you a grant. This is all about the ‘others’. Why does the world need to see this fabulous innovative body of work? How will it change, inform, enrich their lives? Think about your ‘why’ and the ‘who’, and then find the evidence that there is a need.
7. Answer the questions succinctly and accurately.
Avoid sweeping statements. The judges have a lot of these to read. Don’t waffle. Make it easy for them. Use relevant stats and research to justify the need for your project.
8. Read the criteria and reread it.
Then follow it to the letter. If it states you are limited to 10 images, this means placing 12 images on one page does not meet the criteria. Yes, I’ve been caught out on that one. Give them what they ask for, in the format they ask for it.
9. There are very few dollars to go around.
You need to invest the time and the effort if you want your portion of the limited arts funding.
10.Proofread. Then have someone else read it.
If you can, have a professional review it. There are multiple levels for this, from editing, giving feedback on the content, providing advice in advance on the criteria etc. Be professional in all aspects, from presentation and attachments to grammar.
Finding funding is hard, and unfortunately the answer is no, more often than yes. Remember, start practising on small art grants and build those muscles and skills. No one painted a masterpiece the first time they picked up a brush; do not give up after your first attempt.
If you need a hand with grant applicants, please email me or head over to my business Snowed Under Solutions for more information on how I can help you.
“Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park” Click photo to see painting details
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