Guest Post: Grant Writing Tips for Artists from the AZ Commission on the Arts

Today’s post was written by Adriana Gallego at the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She’s sharing her expertise with artists who want to apply for grants to fund their creative projects. Adriana is an artist herself, as well as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Commission so between those two positions she really knows this topic well!

Artists start your engines!  There are two project funding opportunities on the horizon that are not to be missed.  Maximize your time and project ideas by submitting applications to the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the NALAC Fund for the Arts.  To incentivize your participation, this article will outline techniques and resources to help develop strong applications.  There is no time like the present to research new opportunities, update your artist application materials and sharpen your grant-writing skills.  On your marks…

Things to keep in mind when developing a proposal

One of the first steps in writing a grant proposal is to choose the appropriate funding opportunity. If your proposal fits the interest of a funding organization and matches the goals of the grant program, then your proposal has a better probability of being financed. Because proposal writing is a time and energy consuming process, it’s important to be sure that your proposal is eligible, timely, complete and well written. Review the published guidelines thoroughly. Afterwards, take the opportunity of communicating with funders early in the writing process to identify any lingering questions that are not answered in the guidelines.

A successful proposal will convince the reviewer of the importance and feasibility of your project. Reviewers in general have little time, and they may not be completely familiar with the type of project you are proposing. For these reasons, your proposal should be concise. Submit a complete application and write in a precise form; avoid philosophizing and using complex terms. Try not to be repetitive. Well in advance of the deadline, have your proposal reviewed by trusted sources that can edit for grammar, completeness, quality and clarity.

Preparing artistic work samples

People will know you more through representations of your work than your actual/live work.”  Artistic work samples allow the reviewer an opportunity to evaluate the artistic quality of your work.  The presentation style of the work samples not only showcases your aesthetic vision, but it can also reveal something about your commitment to professionalism.  Therefore, your artistic work samples must be of the utmost quality.  The following tips appear in “Essential Tools for Grantwriting” produced by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Immigrant Artist Project.  The complete free video can be found here.

Quality of artistic work sample: Invest in professional documentation and presentation of your work.

Selection of artistic work sample: Present coherent body of work. Prioritize strongest, most relevant work.

Quality of Work Samples for Still ImagesClear image

Fills the frame

Presents the art on a neutral background

Consistent lighting

Representation of scale

Consistent sizing and cropping

Include installation shots when appropriate

Quality of Video Work SamplesClear video and audio

Use a tripod

See the performance space before documenting performance

Use multiple cameras to show perspective

Test work sample before sending

Take a moment to invest in your arts business by preparing strong proposals to the following grant programs:

Arizona Commission on the Arts

Deadline: Thursday, September 22, 2011

Artist Project Grant Award                  $5,500 (up to five awards)

Distinguished Merit Award                  $2,500 (awarded to one Artist Project Grant recipient)

Bill Desmond Award                           $   500 (creative non-fiction writers)

NALAC Fund for the Arts

Deadline: Saturday, September 24, 2011

Project Grant              $1,000-$10,000

Fellowships                 $1,000-$5,000

Master Artist Grant     $10,000-$20,000

About the Arizona Commission on the Arts

The Arts Commission remains committed to maintaining support for artists through grants and services.  Our funding support and professional development offerings have been known to springboard artists into the next level of their careers, whose business is researching, developing, marketing and delivering their creative product. Through their work with communities, in education and in partnership with local vendors, artists stimulate local economies and improve the quality of life across Arizona. 

The Arizona Commission on the Arts is an agency of the State of Arizona whose mission is to create opportunities for all Arizonans to participate in and experience the arts. The agency is governed by a 15-member Governor-appointed Commission and a professional staff, grounded in the arts. We receive and administer funds from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.

We deliver grants and support to cultivate sustainable arts communities and promote statewide public access to arts and cultural activities. Support is provided to organizations and programs across the arts spectrum, from community youth theatres to professional ballet companies, world-renowned museums to local craft showcases, international prize-winning novelist lectures to classroom poetry slams. Our grants also provide funding and resources to bolster arts education in schools, delivering arts learning programs to youth in urban, suburban and rural areas around the state. Together these efforts inspire creativity, grow local economies, revitalize communities and enhance the quality of life for all Arizonans.