As an artist one of your main focuses and purposes is simply to create art, but to build your portfolio and aid your career, there are other aspects to take into consideration. Art grants are a fantastic way to support and fund your art, funding varies depending on the type of grant you apply for, of which there are many and can be for the short or long term. Once you have researched and found a grant that suits your needs, the next step is how to write an art proposal. This article guides you on key pointers and how to compose an art proposal that gets noticed.
1. What is the funding for?
You need to have an idea or project in place that you can write about to submit to the relevant contact. This needs to be important to you and one that inspires and motivates your creativity. To get started ask yourself the following questions:
-What makes your project special to you and how can it benefit others?
-How are you going to create your project? The subject, medium and presentation of it.
-Is there a subject or story behind what you are developing?
-How is it unique or how will it contribute to the art world?
These questions and the answers you find, create the foundation and purpose to the reasoning behind why you are applying for a grant in the first place.
2. Early Beginnings
Find out when the grant needs to be submitted by. Is there a deadline or time-frame to which it needs to be composed and sent off? Giving yourself plenty of time to write and put together your art proposal, eases the pressure and stress off you, and also gives you time to focus on your art. If you struggle to write, then speak to a granting officer or do you have a friend, family member or fellow artist who can help?
3. Applying for the right grant
There are many different types and varieties of grants, so make sure that you are eligible and find a grant that suits your needs. Be aware that artists can be automatically rejected when they submit an application because of ineligibility. It is advisable that you make contact with a funding officer who can provide you with advice on the most suitable grant for you to apply for. It is advised not to amend the reasoning behind applying for a grant to suit its needs, if you are passionate about what you are doing and the right grant is available then this will match well.
4. Creating and selecting professional images
To support a grant you will need to present your work in a professional manner, showcasing quality and clarity. If you have the funds, one option is to hire a professional photographer to document your work, which will then go alongside your art proposal. Alternatively, and if you feel confident enough, photograph your own work. If you have fellow artists who have been through this process, get them to help and make suggestions.
Once you have created a quality portfolio of your work, you will then need to choose relevant images or videos to support the written proposal.
5. Getting your material organised
Following the rules is important when it comes to writing an art proposal. There are often strict measures and procedures in place with specific guidelines and formatting. Take time to apply what the grant is telling you to do, otherwise your application could be dismissed. As a guidance, they often request that you supply between 10 to 20 images. Make sure you are set-up on email and have a website to send information from. If a grant has requested a particular format, make sure to follow that. Note that if you are sending a video, keep it short rather than long, ideally no longer than five minutes. When it comes to sending imagery, make sure you are sending the image direct and not a link to the image on your website for example.
6. The Art of Writing
Starting a draft piece of writing in response to what the grant is asking, is a good way to begin composing your art proposal. Remember to take breaks if you are struggling and ask for help from a friend or family, especially when it comes to proofreading. One exercise which can help is to record yourself explaining your project, often we use simpler language and the wording comes to us more naturally. This also gets you in the mindset and helps put pen to paper. It is advised to write in a clear and concise manner, do not be overly complicated or long winded.
Recommended material: The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing by Gigi Rosenberg.
List of key factors: Avoid jargon and passive tense / use future tense / use concrete words, instead of abstract or general terms / one adjective is better than two / don’t use qualifiers, these only make you sound unsure / use strong verbs instead of weak nouns / use relatable and accessible language.
This is not a requirement for all grants, though it will apply to a few. It is advised to start creating a budget list early so that you do not miss anything crucial. Start by writing a bullet point list of materials and the costs, not forgetting any labour involved, rent for studio space and electronics. There will be grants that do not allow for particular expenses, so make sure you do your research, and only include expenses that the grant is willing to cover. Try and be accurate with your numbers, this shows you have done your research and are taking your art proposal seriously. When writing the main body of your art proposal remember to mention all items and link them with your budget list.
8. Getting noticed
For each grant there will be hundreds, even thousands of applicants hoping to be successful, so you need to stand out. Preethi Burkholder is a professional grant writer and explains how: “Begin with the need statement, a description of the artistic need that your project is addressing.” This means that you need to open your proposal with a statement addressing the clear facts.
Example: ‘’Life from the River will explore how our waters create fascinating art forms. The theme will be explored through a collection of paintings, that will result in a exhibition at Red Hall, Manchester in 2021.’’
9. Having an updated CV
Make sure your curriculum vitae aka CV is up to date. Funders will look at this to view your education, past and future exhibitions and accolades. Alternatively make sure you have a bio, which is advised to be between 100 and 200 words, covering your career as an artist written in the third person. Remember to proofread this document and include highlights and pivotal moments of your career.
10. Sending off and outcome
Once you have completed your art proposal it is ready to be submitted. Make sure you make note of the deadline for receiving a response. Alternatively you can follow up to check the proposal has been received, though remember to give the jurors time to consider your art proposal. Whether you are successful or not, it is important to maintain a professional manner, moving forward this gives you kudos as an artist. If you are successful this is a fantastic opportunity to promote yourself, and remember to thank the grant giver for their time and help. If you are not successful, do not fret, ask for feedback on what you can do to amend your art proposal.