Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A big thankyou!

I heard today that I have been awarded a grant from The Gane Trust which will allow me to continue studying on the Applied Arts program next year. Hurrah! The Gane Trust was set up by prominent Bristol furniture manufacturer, Crofton Gane, in 1954 to support the training of Westcountry craftspeople. His family business had links with the Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius and other prominent designers and architects.

This is the second time i've been awarded a grant, but this means more to me as this time it's personal and I feel i'm finally headed in the right direction. In the past I was the co-curator of 'Comic Book Queens' an exhibition featuring work by female comic artists that took place as part of Ladyfest Bristol, at Spike Island. For that event we were awarded an Arts Council grant, but as I never saw any of the money (most of it went on paying Spike Island for the space), I tend to forget it ever happened.

Grant applications are so time consuming and laborious that i've been inclined not to bother with them, but this grant came after sitting down and working on about 10 applications all at one time. Some of them (ok most of them) turned me down outright, but I had a good feeling about this one when I was asked to submit more information to the awarding panel. So here's a few tips from a slightly successful grant applicant:

1. Research organisations that offer grants- if you can use something like Funderfinder that's great, other places to look include AN, The Crafts Council, your regional Art's Council and places like ArtQuest.

2. Make sure that the places you apply to offer funding in the area's you need it. We pulled off loads of info about various trusts only to read the small print and discover that they only awarded money to people on Post Graduate study/ from Leeds/working in silver/etc etc. There is no point at all in applying to a charity hoping for money if you don't fit their criteria.

3. Most application forms will need the same kind of information- some grant applications just ask for a CV and covering letter, others ask for letters of recommendation from tutors, some ask for images of your work, others just want to know what you will spend the money on. For this grant I had to explain why it was so important to me to be able to study on the Applied Arts program, despite the fact I already have a BA.

4. Make sure you read all the info about submission dates, some trusts only look at applications once a year, they may return your application if you miss the deadline, they may keep it and re-submit it next year- it's a bit of a risk to take and one that can be avoided if you pay attention to all the details.

5. Make sure you include a SAE if you are asked to, and a covering letter is a good idea, even if it's not asked for- it helps personalise your application. I'm sure some organisations just throw them away as soon as they get them, but if you have a standard letter on file that you can tweak depending on who you are writing to, then there's no harm in adding it in to your application.

6. There are people who are paid to do this kind of stuff all the time- if you are looking to raising a large amount of money (we're talking thousands/tens of thousands) then it might be worth getting a fundraiser on board. If you are organising something like Ladyfest (a volunteer run feminist arts festival) you might be lucky to find a professional willing to give up their time/experience for free. We had someone who worked for the city council help us through some of the other applications we made for the festival.

7. Not technically grants, but plain old blagging can work wonders. In the past i've managed to get all kinds of things donated to groups i've worked with, just by phoning up businesses and asking. Ok i've not yet managed to convince any companies to give us luxury yachts to raffle, but my old Adventure Playground got donations of huge rolls of paper from a printers amongst other things. There are schemes like Arts and Business which matches artists with local businesses and finds ways that they can mutually benefit from this.

Good luck! (And please don't steal all the grant money away from all the lovely trusts and charity's i've applied to!)


Felicia said...

Fantastic! Congratulations.

Camilla said...