Do you identify with the image of a starving artist all too well? Or maybe you're not starving but you have an idea for a big project that you can't afford the supplies for on your own - and you're not willing to let that stop you.
If any of those statements ring true, it may be time to apply for artist grants or project-based grants in your area. Art grants allow artists to get funding for a project, especially when it's public art or large-scale.
And while getting a grant is awesome - the process of applying for one isn't. It takes a lot of patience, a lot of hoop-jumping through, and perseverance.
Still interested? Learn how art grants work, how to apply, and tips to get approved, below.
How Do Grants Work?
There are people in the world with so much money they have to give some of it away. Whether it's an individual person funding one grant or a museum, the money usually comes from one to five donors.
These grants are set sums of money used for a specific cause every year, like say, three public art installations in a five year period. Legally the money can't be used for anything other than the terms written in the grant.
Grants can run anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 (or more). And while there are a lot of grants out there, there are a lot more artists. It's common for 300-500 people to apply for the same grant and only one can get the funding.
All that to say, grants are very strict and very high competition. You should expect to get denied for 95% of the grants you apply to, given you apply to at least 10 or 15.
There's nothing you can do to change the odds, other than following the grant directions to a tee (more on that later).
That's where the patience and perseverance come in. No matter how great your art is, no one's going to send you thousands of dollars for free. You've got to work for it - by filling out the grant.
Applying for Art Grants: The Steps
Before you apply for a grnt you need a solid idea of your project. You need to have it in written form, as well as some sort of sketch designed, with dimensions and a general timeframe.
All arts will ask for a version of this proposal and having it beforehand will help you...
Look for Grants
First thing's first, you have to find a funding source - a grant - to apply for. You can simply google "Art grants" to find an up to date listing of what's available.
Before you apply, follow the link to the website to make sure the grant is active and you're not wasting your time.
Pick five to ten grants you're interested in that match the terms of your project. This is just the initial brainstorming/sourcing session, so you don't have to read the fine print just yet.
Make a Spreadsheet
List all the grants you're interested, the link to them, and when they're due on a spreadsheet (or write it down, if that's better for you). Due dates on grants are not flexible and if they require a physical copy, they need to be postmarked at least a week before the due date.
Read the Terms and Application Rules, Twice
Here's where things get tricky: application rules. Each grant wants things done a little differently, which means you'll have to write out your proposal a few different ways between the grants you're applying for.
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when they apply for grants - they don't follow the exact guidelines. Remember how we said hundreds of people are applying for the same grant?
People who don't follow the application process exactly are the first to get weeded out.
When you're filling out your grant
, it's okay to write down the prompts or sections from the grant exactly as is. This will make it easier for the reader to go through and help you not leave anything out.
Have Someone Look Over It
Another frequent mistake we see is people sending in their grants without letting a friend or professional proofreader look over it. No one's perfect and grants are too delicate to take a chance on.
There are people you can hire to go over your grant for you for a fee, but you can also ask a friend or colleague to help you out. Whatever you do, make sure there's another set of eyes on it other than yours before you turn it in.
Send It In Early
Some grants only accept a certain number of applicants per grant "cycle". That means the closer to the due date you turn it in, the more likely it is that yours is past the application number cut off.
Don't rush through your grant, but don't take your sweet time either. Once it's proofread and you're 110% certain every question on the grant is answered, send it in. It might be worth the cost of sending priority, so you get tracking and delivery confirmation.
While you're waiting for the funds to come through (hopefully) check out this payday alternative
Using Art Grants
Let's say you applied to 15 grants and you got approved for one - that's awesome! Those are about the odds you're working with, so don't hold back when you're initially applying.
You'll get put in contact with someone regarding the grant and they'll send you lots of paperwork. Be sure to go over it and skip nothing - especially when it comes to what you can use the art grants money for.
Some include stipends for living expenses, others are supplies only. A grant is a legal contract, so please read the fine print.
From there - it's up to you to create and follow through on the project you proposed. And we, for one, can't wait to see it!
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