Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Singing the Grant Writing Blues - And Some Application Tips ...
It's the season for grant writing, sabbatical applications, and the hefty NEA on-line application. What's a poet to do? Was it just last week that I finished applying to summer residency programs? I sometimes wonder if I would be better off using all this time to actually write poems instead of writing applications about the writing of poems. Maybe that in itself needs to be a poem? Meanwhile, I attended a meeting last night for a CityArtist Project grant I received a few months ago. It made me wonder about what information I could give to others about applying for grants.
Much of what I wrote earlier about applying for artist residencies applies to the grant writing project. In fact, everything I mentioned about the actual writing sample for the residency would be the same for a grant writing sample. However, here are a few tips to add.
1. Invest a lot of time on the web site of the grant giving institution. You can usually find out past judges and recipients. Maybe you know one? I asked a former winner of one grant if I could see her application and it gave me a better sense of how to streamline my project.
2. Enlist your friends! Ask people not in your discipline to read your application. Very often there will be a musician or a photographer on the jury, they won't all be poets. Do not send your most obscure work.
3. Listen to the organization's feedback. The Mayor's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs in Seattle offers the CityArtist recipients the chance to hear the comments that the judges had on their work. I jumped at this opportunity. Although I received the award, I think it would be very helpful to learn what I did right.
4. Try sitting on the other side of the table. I learned the most about how to enter writing contests or apply to residencies by judging contests and volunteering to help one artist residency choose successful candidates. If you have the opportunity to judge anything at all - even a pie eating contest, take it!
5. Ask the institution you are applying to if they have a sample successful application you can see or if they offer workshops for potential grantees. Invaluable.
6. Be generous. When someone I know asks for a copy of one of my successful applications I am happy to send it their way. I believe in good karma. It doesn't always work -- but I make sure I hold up my end of the deal.
7. Don't give up! The NEA comes every two years and I have been applying for one for many moons. Each time the judges change -- and so does my work. One day I might just win. Who knows?
8. Build on your own momentum. Last year I was lucky enough (worked hard enough?) to be granted two awards. Applying for two awards allowed me to use some of the same materials even though the projects were different. I needed an artist statement and artist cv for both.
9. Celebrate your successes! How wild that we in the United States (and Ireland and Canada and other places) can sometimes gain funding for our artistic projects when they are still just an idea.
I keep a separate bank account for my poetry money. It may be small, but it's also magical.
10. Your idea goes here. I would love to hear from other people. What tips do you have for applying for grants?