Staring down the barrel of a grant panel

I recently applied for an Individual Artist Program grant from the state of Indiana. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen (anonymously) to my grant being reviewed by a panel of four artists.

This particular grant is for a maximum of $2000, and is for some use that would directly advance the career of the artist. The grant must have some sort of public benefit as well. Many types of artists apply — from novices to academic professionals. As I listened to the comments on about 25 applications, a few points kept coming up:

Be sure you understand the intent of the grant. In this case, grants that made a strong case for how the artists’ career would be affected received favorable comments. Does your proposal sound like you are shoe-horning your desire for a vacation into the grant format?

Be clear and straightforward in your writing. Confused reviewers are not likely to recommend your application, even if your plan is a good one. Are your details are consistent throughout?

Budgets are important. The more details you can include, the more serious your plan seems. Understand the definition of in-kind — supplies or labor that are donated by others. Your personal funding contribution should be listed separately. Do your income and expenses match?

Images are crucial. Do your images give the reviewers a clear idea about the type of work you will be undertaking?

Get advice!  In the Indiana program, artists were given the opporunity to have a staff person read a draft of the grant, give general advice and answer technical questions. Take advantage of this type of assistance, even if it means getting your work done earlier than the deadline. When other people read your grant, do they find your funding arguments compelling?

My current press!

In my case, I applied for funds to expand the size of my press. My husband built my current press, so to expand, new longer rollers and a new bed would be necessary. Being able to create larger works would make my exploration of patterns more effective. I proposed to display four of these large prints in non-traditional settings, and ask people to provide written responses to the work. If the grant is funded, I will be documenting the press expansion, the creation of the print, and the public responses on this blog.

Will my grant get funded? I am learning to not predict things in the fickle art world. The comments I received were favorable, but I am competing against four other days of reviews! About 1/3 of the applicants will be funded, according to the grant administrator.

I was the only person present for most of the review process, and I found the experience valuable. If you have the opportunity to attend a grant review panel, I highly recommend the investment of your time. You never know what you will learn.

 

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