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Money: A Grant in the Hand is Worth Two Paintings on the Easel

© 2007, Artist Career Training

You can now listen to the Tip-of- the-Week!

A Grant in the Hand is Worth Two Paintings on the Easel

Robin Sagara, A.C.T. Web Marketing Mentor shared some strong opinions on the topic of money in A.C.T.'s Tip-of-the-Week: Bust That Starving Artist Myth.

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.
Robin has these suggestions for you:

"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 a 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 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. (Oh, by the way, guess what you spend most of your time doing during the year-long A.C.T. 101 program?  Yeah, putting those pieces into place.)

"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.

"I use The Foundation Center's web site a lot ( either paid subscription 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 is another person who does 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 assistanceships, 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 system."

With the knowledge and support you get from Artist Career Training
you'll save time, effort and money.  We gather all the information you
need to market your art and build your art career so that you can make
money and get back to doing what you love - making more art.

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Reader Comments (3)

Thanks Robin,
Agree with your suggestions.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJesmi

Money Matters! will be offered again this fall. The current artists are making strides towards a healthier and wealthier art lifestyle!
Wish I had learned about this class before it began! I'll be paying closer attention for the next opportunity, that's for sure. The tips help me to keep on track. Thank you.

February 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
The website cannot be reached!
March 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRon

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