Untitled -work in progress
16" x 40" oil on canvas
For artists who want to see an idea expand and are willing to put in the prep work, there are art grants available to assist on a variety of levels. It take some research to find them and more research, careful planning and networking to bring a concept to a level where others may be willing to fund it.
I've discovered the following when considering applications for funding (and many apply to entering juried competitions as well)
- Have a unique concept. Its quite amazing how much art is a repeat of something that's gone before. Unless its a unique spin or technique on a subject, or an approach that explores a subject from a different angle, its a difficult sell. Do your research on the organization you are considering applying to for funding. Has a similar project been done? Did it receive full funding? Successfully funding projects are usually listed on the organizations' websites. Take time to browse and see what's been previously funded.
- Plan the project in detail from the outline of the concept, to final details. This walk through will reveal problem areas. The general layout starts with an overview, which is a brief paragraph of what you will do, when and how. A detailed explanation of what you will do, how you will do it, the time frame, the end result is next. Finally a detailed budget should follow. Depending on the organization, it may be simple, but should include a detailed breakdown of costs and a final total.
- Do budget research in real time. Don't guess at prices. Review and compare costs, including tax and shipping. Get pricing from three companies for products or services that you will need. You don't want to under or over estimate costs, it could affect the outcome of your project.
- Read the application instructions and follow them to the letter. Obvious yes? Often this is a slip up area, when vital documents are not included. Make sure your checklist of included materials is there and in the quantities requested. Ensure your art resume, biography and artist statement are up to date. If references are required, ask permission to use a person's name ahead of time so there are no surprises for them.
- Don't take the little things for granted. Printing costs include ink, paper, photographs, copying fees,etc. Its easy to think they won't take up a lot of time or supplies but they can mount up quickly, depending on the project. Look at every aspect of your project and research the cost to you.
- Consider partnerships and networking in your proposal. These are key words in today's business industry. They expand reach, lessen costs and provide long lasting impact. In many funding applications, they are an option that can tip the scale for your application.
- Community involvement comes high on the list for gaining brownie points. Consider how to share your work with the world. Talk to a gallery to confirm an exhibition or set up one in another venue. Run a workshop to teach a technique, give an artist talk. Its all about sharing.
- Be professional. If you are provided with funds, make sure you keep accurate records, images and written documentation to provide the granting agency with a report at the end of the project. Being slow with reports, inaccurate accounting or the ultimate faux pas, not completing a project, will be a black mark for any future grants.
- Say thank you. It sounds simple and obvious, but can be overlooked. Give credit to funders on resources produced by your project, provide links on your website, blog, social media wherever possible. Invite them to exhibitions, keep them informed.
- Give your proposal to someone else to read. Have them proofread for errors and grammar and check budget figures for accuracy. Ensure you know the deadline for applications and get your application in before that date.