Dolce (Lifestyle/Professional Development)

11 tips to fund your art through grants

Among the variety of ways that we can fund our work, grants are amongst the most prominent in Australia. Devising and writing a grant is an art form in itself, and often a daunting process for anyone writing for the first time.

Here are some handy tips of things to consider before, during and after the grant process:

Before

• Leave enough time to bring everything together. Grants have lots of moving parts, and you’ll need the time to flesh out your application and collate support materials

• Read over the grant guidelines carefully, as it will include information on eligibility, the grant program’s terms and scope, and clues on how to frame your responses in your application

• Research who and what has been funded before, as this will give a good picture of the types of practitioners and projects that the funding organisation is interested in supporting

• Make an appointment to meet with a grants officer or someone from the funding organisation, particularly if it is your first time applying for grants. This person will typically make helpful suggestions on framing your project in the grant, the logistical considerations, and the types of support material that will be best suited for your application

• Consider partnerships and collaborations, particularly for community-oriented projects. A project involving multiple parties is likely to indicate strong sociocultural and community impacts, something that municipal and regional funding organisations are keen to see as outcomes of their investment

Jesse Budel | photo by Jakub Gaudasinski

During

• Make sure your grant aims and outcomes are explained clearly and logically. Grant questions are usually variations on who, what, when, where, why and how of your project, and attention to detail for each of these is important. Try to write in general terms and avoid jargon, as the assessor is likely not to be an expert in your practice

• Support in writing from people connected to your project is important. These fall into two categories: confirmations, from collaborators confirming intended activities for the project; and letters of support, typically from peers who can vouch for your capability and appropriateness for the project. Ask if you can draft these letters – most collaborators / peers will be happy to let you do this (as you know the project better, and it saves them time) and they can edit as necessary prior to signing

• Like the rest of the grant, attention to detail in budgets is a must. Budget income and expenditure should balance (in-kind support is particularly helpful for this), and costings should be as precise as possible, rather than ballpark figures. Most grants allow you to provide notes to the budget, where you can explain how you arrived at each figure, and provide quotes and evidence for budget items

• Get your application proofread, preferably by someone who isn’t aware of the project details. Not only will they be able to help with typos, but they can check if the project and idea make sense, something important for the assessor to grasp easily

After

• Whatever your grant outcome, ask for feedback. Your assessors’ commentary can reveal areas of improvement for future applications, and how competitive your grant was in relation to other grants submitted

• If your grant was successful, it is likely that you will need to acquit your grant when the project is completed. To help with the acquittal process, it is good to document and get statistics for your project (audiovisual recording, audience engagement, etc.), and keep receipts or evidence of your financial activity

Where to look

Grants are available at a range of levels in Australia, including locally, within your home state, and nationally. Local councils often have a variety of community and arts grants to fund small scale projects, usually found on the Council’s website. Services clubs also may provide funds or in-kind support to your project. In South Australia, a number of organisations to consider include:

Arts SA
Country Arts SA
Carclew Youth Arts
History SA
Grants SA
Helpmann Academy

Interstate and nationally, there are many public and private funding bodies that provide grants, some of the most prominent including:

Australia Council
Ian Potter Cultural Trust
Churchill Fellowships
National Assocation for the Arts (NAVA)

This article was first published in The Serenade Files Magazine Issue 1 (January – March 2019). Visit the Members Magazine page to read more articles like this.

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