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Grant writing is a process. Think about the first time you tried going on a bike without your training wheel or even your first steps. You will have to go through a learning curve and this is normal. Remember to be kind to yourself, ask for help and step away for a little bit of time.
‘’Securing funding as a creative practitioner can be a daunting and challenging prospect. It can feel overwhelming to comprehend where to begin in both finding the right funding, and knowing how to approach writing the application.’’ – Lara Monro, Arts Fund Consultant
Be bold, Be Brave – Have Initiative
Having initiative is key in the arts. You need to decide that your project is wordy but also that you are ready to put all your energy into it. Lots of work will fall back on your shoulder so make sure to invest your time in a clever way. Do your homework, search the website, see if there is a contact line. Be prepared, write down your questions – be clear. Be ready, don’t wait to get a head start, some documents are staples for all grant applications – even before having found the opportunity you can get a head start with having some key documents ready: your cv, your artist’s statement, your narrative.
How do you start a grant, actually where do you look for opportunities that can fund part of your art practices. Many countries have Arts Councils or some granting body be it on a city level, provincial or state or countrywide fund. Alternatively, many private entities are awarding grants. Make sure to look and leave no rocks unturned. There are also many websites, Facebook groups, or listings (via Instagram) where you can subscribe to be made aware of opportunities.
‘’ Regardless of the application outcome, always remember that applying for funds to help further your creative practice/assisting in the development of a project/collective/ performance/e.t.c is a brilliant tool for helping to finesse your ideas and what exactly you want from the time you dedicate to the next step/endeavour.” – Lara Monro, Arts Fund Consultant
You found one – Are you eligible and is it the right fit?
Great! You found a grant in your area or something that is substantial enough to fund part of your project, but as grant writing is a time-consuming process – you need to make sure that you are eligible as well as fit for the opportunity.
Your matched – Excellent! Now get down to business succinctly
No fla fla, no jargon words, no zombie words – be clear, be precise and be succinct. What are your needs? What are your objectives? What are you trying to make, what will be the impact on yourself, on others? Relevance is key, but also – are your objectives as crystal clear as you think they are? Our best advice – write your proposal, let it sit for a few hours, or days. Then read it again – is it clear? No, change the bits and pieces that don’t fit. Then ask a friend or a parent, anybody that you trust and might not be in your area of expertise. Listen to the feedback they have. They might get what you are trying to achieve, or they might totally miss the point – in that case, go back to the basics.
Lara Monro points out that in the UK, the Arts Council England supports the Arts & Culture sectors by providing funding through their National Lottery Project Grant and the Develop Your Creative Practice Grant. Through these, they champion and invest in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives by supporting activities from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. In order to make their grants accessible to all, they offer Access Support, providing guidance and assistance for those who identify with the below:
- deaf or disabled
- experience learning difficulties; and/or
- have a mental health condition
- have a long-term health condition
This service includes working with someone to help guide you on how to apply. This can include offering guidance on how to use the Arts Council online portal, Grantanium, compiling your ideas into a structured format, managing your budget/timeline and advising on how to re-apply if you are unsuccessful/secure the funds if/when you are successful.
We strongly encourage you to look to see if this kind of service is available in your region and country.
Otherwise, there are several resources out there that can help you find the right funding, and support in strengthening your grant writing skills – here are a few:
- The Fit. Check if this opportunity is a good fit – don’t try to make your project fit their needs. Find an opportunity that fits you!
- The Big Picture. Frame your objectives – a few lines, know your keywords.
- Time. Remember that grant writing takes TIME!!! So, set yourself for success and start as early as possible.
- Help! It is (more than) ok to ask for help! Grant writing is hard, see if you can get help; friends, colleagues, people you look up to, resources, and coach. Call the granting body and ask, search their website.
- Don’t go overboard. If it isn’t asked, don’t add it – stick to the requirement and make sure to fit in the word count – you wouldn’t want to be disqualified for a technical reason!
- Elevator pitch. Develop a good one-liner to describe yourself, your journey and aim to do the same with your project.
- Run the numbers. Can you really deliver what you are aiming for with the budget you are asking for? Show that you are also diversifying your source of funding – you might want to make sure not to put all your eggs in the same basket.
- Watch your language. Spelling is important, don’t use acronyms or jargon – be sensitive and to the point.
- Get organized and ready now. Prepare and update your document as you go. Make sure that your artist statement is up to date as your cv.
- Don’t Wait. Collect data and evidence as you progress through your projects. Many grants are coming with a reporting format and it will be much easier to collect as you go than to look back when the time comes to write this report.
- Learning Curve. The first time might not be the charm, but take it as a learning experience and see if you can ask for feedback.
‘’I work with a number of creative practitioners from all areas of the Arts and have yet to experience anyone who regretted working on an application. Give it a go, and don’t forget to ask for help! ’’ – Lara Monro, Arts Fund Consultant
Our Collaborator for this article
Lara Monro provides Arts Funding and Bid Writing support and consulting. If you need funding for a creative project or to develop your creative practice, Lara can guide you through the process of applying for financial aid, giving you the best chance of securing the amount required. Lara assists in formulating and structuring applications, as well as providing in-depth advice on how best to approach the funding bodies through the preferred choice of language and concepts.
Lara has experience working with/for artists and creatives with a wide range of neurodiversities, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, anxiety disorders, and other invisible and visible disabilities.
If you are looking for funding opportunities in the UK or need help with your grant writing, contact Lara