Grant funding has been absolutely central to my income as a performer for the past 15-20 years, and it’s something I get asked about frequently by musicians, artists, and subscribers to this blog.
Today, I’m going to share two ridiculously easy keys to submitting successful grant applications.
(Not sure where to find grants, and what kinds of work can be funded? We just had two detailed webinars on the topic – you can get access to the content right here.)
I’ve written quite a few grants over the years to fund my own work, and have been written into lots of other grants as a performing artist, and I can tell you that these two items can make or break your chances of getting funded.
Step #1 – F0llow the Instructions
As simple as that sounds, I’ve been told by grant administrators that the vast majority of applicants do NOT do this well enough, and the ones that don’t follow the instructions to a “T” are eliminated from consideration, no matter how good their art or their project is.
Things to make sure you get right:
- do you meet the grant eligibility requirements?
- read and re-read the goals of the grant so you can speak directly to them
- read and re-read each question to make sure you’re providing the answers they want
- write with the assumption that they know nothing about you or your artwork
- provide every support material they ask for (samples of your work, how you plan to publicize the event, etc)
- does your budget add up? Triple check it.
- no typos!
“Don’t assume that whoever is reading knows who you are and knows your work – start from scratch and explain EVERYTHING. The more, the better. Don’t undersell yourself.”
– Jen Swan, Arts Services Initiative of Western New York
Further reading: check out the article Dear Artists, Stop Turning in Bad Grant Applications
Step #2 – Talk to the Granting Organization
Again, seemingly obvious, but too many applicants aren’t reaching out to the organization that’s administering the grant to ask for advice and guidance.
My experience has been that the people in charge of disseminating grant funds really want to help us give them strong applications.
Call or email the grant officer to ask for a face-to-face meeting, or see if you can run a draft of your application past them for their feedback before you submit it.
- they know what makes a strong application, and where other applicants have failed in the past
- they know what the decision makers are looking for, including factors that might not be obvious from the application
- it demonstrates your commitment to getting things “right”
- it gives you the opportunity to explain your project – and convey your enthusiasm – in person, putting a face to your application
- helps deepen your relationship with the granting organization, which is really useful for future opportunities
“If our artists are submitting to a national grant, they are welcome to send us a copy and we’ll review and give feedback as part of our mission to support them.”
– Shannon Linker, Arts Council of Indianapolis
Step #3 (BONUS) – Don’t Skim This Article!
Did you just skim the main points of this article and find them to be pretty obvious?
Here’s the deal – – there is grant money out there to support worthwhile music and performance projects, and that money is given out to successful applicants every year.
I urge you to read this whole thing again (it’s not that long…), and take these two items to heart. They really are key pieces of the puzzle.
Want to Find Grants?
We just had two live webinars in October 2017 to teach the “A-B-C’s” of grant funding for musicians and performing artists. Replay videos of those trainings are now available.
Here’s what we covered:
- how to find grants
- what can be funded
- ways to make yourself eligible
- what the grantors want
- budgeting and pricing your work
- how to submit a powerhouse application
- PLUS, we took a private look inside a successfully funded grant application
About The Blog
Since leaving a white-collar marketing job in 1992, Dave Ruch has been educating and entertaining full-time in schools, historical societies and museums, folk music and concert venues, libraries, and online via distance learning programs.
Along the way, he’s learned a great deal about supporting a family of four as a musician.
The Educate and Entertain blog provides articles, tips, encouragements, and how-to’s for regional performers (in any region) interested in making a great full-time living in the arts.