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I am currently developing a set of workshops that address the question ‘How To Be An Artist’. This first blog post will give an insight into one of these workshops, with more to follow. If anyone has any comments about this post or ideas for developments then that would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope my advice may be of some help to you.
The dreaded funding application. This is something that a large percentage of people try to avoid. You want money to explore your ideas but are put off by the seemingly impossible task of being awarded funding. I am by no means an expert on this matter but I do have some experience of successfully applying for funding. The aim of this blog entry is to give some insight into the requirements you need to meet for a successful funding application.
There are many ways in which funders will ask you to apply. Really, put simply, the two main ways in which you will apply are:
For either application type there are some common things that the funders want to know. They want to know what your plan is, what are you going to do, what materials are you going to need, how long will you need to complete your project/workshop/body of work, who will benefit from it, how many people will benefit from it, how you will evaluate it, what expenses will you incur and how much you are charging for your time. It is extremely important that you have a good knowledge of what is expected of you through the application process. If you don’t have a clear idea about what things are going to cost etc. then you run the risk of sounding like you don’t know what you’re doing and this, in turn, could lead to your application not being considered.
So what do you need to include?
A strong artist statement. It is a good idea to have an artist statement written up ready to use which you can then just adapt according to the funding you are applying for. The main purpose of the statement is to give the person reading your application confidence in your knowledge/abilities. This is likely to be a section they read before considering the rest of your application. Make sure you include details about your current practice. Just don’t write too much. Make it concise. Then cater your statement to each application. If there are specific things that they have asked for then make sure you include them. If you avoid the questions then they will avoid your application.
Budgeting. The only real way that you are going to be able to do this is research. If you know the materials you need then research how much they cost. Make sure you find competitive prices and don’t just go with the first one you find. Will there be travel involved? If so, what will it cost? If you’re running a project how much are you going to charge for your time? Be realistic about this. There is plenty of information out there that will help you work out your artist fee (I will also try and post something related to this at a later date); the funders will be aware of this also so be honest and don’t try to charge too much. Would you need money for marketing/advertising? Think of everything you would need to make your idea come to fruition. Then go through it and see if you have included anything that isn’t totally necessary. Once you have these lists you will know exactly what you need to make it work and how much it costs. You will also have an idea of what you could potentially do should you try and apply for funding from multiple funders (some funding applications will ask whether you have applied for funding from anywhere else and for how much and for what etc.) Knowing exactly how much you realistically need to make your idea work will help the person reading your application understand that you know what you’re talking about and that you are someone worth investing in. It would also be recommended to include a contingency amount into your funding bid. This will cover you against any unforeseen expenses, for example, if the price of something escalates etc. Whether a contingency amount is mentioned by the funders or not a lot of them will expect to see one and including it will, again, show the funder that you have thought of every possible outcome and that their money is worth spending on you. The contingency amount would typically be 5-10% of your overall expenses (excluding your fee). So if your expenses work out at £1000 then it would be realistic to have a contingency amount of £100, for example.
Evaluation method. It is more than likely that they will want to know how you intend to evaluate the project/workshop etc. A standard are simple evaluation forms that you can hand to the participants at the end of each session. Some people react differently to different tasks however so it might be worth considering alternatives to the evaluation form. Maybe you could ask them questions and record/film their answers. Maybe you could encourage them to keep a ‘reflective log’ as they go through the project noting down their thoughts and feelings about the work etc. Funders will be interested in awarding money to people and projects that have a clear goal in mind and if there is potential for developing the project/workshop further then all the better. Just make sure you have a plan of how you are going to collect the relevant information needed to make that happen.
One thing to remember if you do get awarded the funding is to keep a record of everything you spend and what you spend it on. A good way that I found is to set up a simple spreadsheet that includes headings such as ‘materials’ and ‘Travel’. It would also be worth including the dates of each workshop for example and how much you have spent for each task. Having a running total of what you have spent and what you have left will help you to keep tabs on what you are spending and whether you may need to reassess certain areas. And make sure you keep the receipts; the funders will most likely need these for proof that you’ve spent the money on what you said you would spend it on.
That’s it for the time being. I hope this post has been of some use to you and, like I said, any comments are welcome and much appreciated and if there are any areas that you would like more information on then feel free to get in touch.