Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The Art of Getting an Artist Grant
Aletta de Wal Artist Career Training

A grant in the hand is worth two paintings on the easel.

One refrain in the e-mail we got was the amount of work involved in locating grants.

“Everything I’ve heard about grants indicates that filling out the proposals takes a minimum of 40 hours of work, for a few thousand dollars (which in this day and age really doesn’t go very far, particularly if you have serious financial need). The return on my labor has always seemed ridiculous compared to the time involved, and considering the time away from my work, I see it as hardly worth it. I could paint several paintings in that time that would be worth far more than the grant. So why bother?”

We hear this a lot! If you do want a little extra to tide you over, don’t rely on hearsay.

A Few Suggestions for Artists Needing Grants:

• "Sure, you can be painting instead of applying for grants, but do you SELL those paintings?

• “If you do, great, maybe you don’t need a grant. Many artists aren’t that successful, yet, or have arts/community programs they’d like to develop. And the money from an art grant would help them get started with working capital, so for them it might be well worth spending the time in applying.”

• "Many people have voiced your same concerns and yes, applying for grants can be very time consuming for very little money. I’ve made that mistake myself and learned how to do it better.
I learned that the two most important things to do before ever applying for an art grant are:
1. Make sure you have the core pieces of required documentation
2. Do your research before you apply.

• "Make sure you have the core pieces of required documentation:
Most organizations who give money away want information from you, and it pays to have those done and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

• "It IS time-consuming the first time, but once you have the pieces it never takes that long again. Plus, you’re going to need good documentation in other areas of your art career (like for galleries, museums, competitions, shows, etc.). You need your artist statement, bio, resume, quality photos of your work in print, digital and slides, portfolios, a business and marketing plan (even very simple ones), etc.

• "Then, you can pluck, copy/paste and assemble what you need for a particular grant application from your inventory of documents and images.

• "Do your research before you apply: Most of the time I spend helping people apply for grants goes into research and finding grants that are good for THEM. So many people just apply to grants (and to galleries, shows and other things) without really considering if it’s a good match for what they want from their art business.

• "The Foundation Center has a lot either paid subscriptions online or free at a local center. There are many across the USA. Each grant has summary info including how they prefer first contact.

• "Sometimes, it’s just a letter, as it was with a client of mine. We drafted and sent the letter, total time, about 30 minutes. The grantor replied expressing interest, and enclosed a complete info packet and application. Because my client had already written much of what she needed, and had quality images of her work, she was able to put the application together in just several hours. And although she didn’t get that grant (it was for $10,000), it was certainly worth a few hours of her time to try and she was invited to apply again the next year.

Would she have gone to hours of work for a very small grant? Probably not for a few hundred dollars, but then again, she didn’t even bother contacting grantors unless the grants were significant. Again, she was well-matched with the grants, thereby greatly increasing the odds of her success."

• A.C.T. Expert Benny Shaboy and Art Opportunities Monthly have done most of the hard work for you: “Get your share of the $5.7 million from this art opportunities list, published monthly. It’s for artists and photographers. In each issue:
• Art contests
• Grants
• Juried art competitions
• Fellowships
• Residencies
• Public art commissions
• Art awards
• Scholarships
• Teaching assistance-ships
• Calls for art
• Art deadlines
• Scholarships
• Art shows
• Photography contests
• RFPs
• RFQs
• Sculpture commissions
• Percent-for-art
• Slide registries
• University art galleries
• Non-profit art galleries
• or other artist opportunities and venues normally outside the commercial gallery systems

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