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Grants, and How To Be Prepared

It’s grant writing season and tensions are high. Organizations and individual artists are hunkering down for long nights of feverish writing and calculating, to hopefully acquire Government and Corporate financial backing for their projects and dreams.

If you are new to this wide-eyed, coffee filled world, a grant is a non-repayable sum of money given by an organization, or government, for a particular purpose, which normally addresses a need in the community that can be filled through programming, events, etc.

What does this mean? As organizations are putting together plans for programs, a common part of the process is to seek out artists and creatives that will be a great fit for their programming to be included in the application process.

“Hi! I just want to say that I love what you do, and your artistic work in the community. I would love to have you be a part of an initiative that I am putting together to address this need in my community. I think you would be a great fit! I’m applying for a grant, and I was wondering if you were willing to send me your information, so I can include you as a facilitator/artist/creative on the project”.

Exciting right? There are however a few requirements this process demands of the artists and creatives that are being sought out by organizations, essentially as co-applicants. The biggest and most important requirement is proof. The Toronto Arts Council states that artists applying for grants must be a “professional artist”, which the TAC defines as someone who has developed their skills through training and/or practice; is recognized as such by artists working in the same artistic tradition; actively practices their art; seeks payment for their work; and has a history of public presentation.”

What does this mean? If you are contemplating applying for a grant, or are being approached to be facilitator/artist/creative on a project, it’s important to document your work, and develop and curate your presence. This can be done through social media with a dedicated artist page, through your website/blog/tumblr, or with an online portfolio. Having done the work, with no visible proof of said work makes the process difficult, and can often work against you. Rub shoulders with, and get to know those in your field, especially those who can vouch for you. Keep an up-to-date list of your public performances and payment for services rendered, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Grants are a competitive process, and not everyone comes out as a winner. You many not be ready to apply for, or be a co-applicant on a grant, but preparation is the key to success.

Wherever you are in the grant process, we wish you all the best!

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