commissions & grant writing

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A career seminar presented by Impulse Artist Series and Spacetaker. By Dr. Michael Remson, American Festival for the Arts.


  • 1.Dr. Michael Remson, American Festival for the Arts

2. In October of 1992 "when Miss Battle opened the BSO season, she reportedly banned an assistant conductor and other musicians from her rehearsals, changed hotels several times, and left behind what a report called a froth of ill will. In February 1994, during rehearsals for an upcoming production, Battle was said to have subjected her fellow performers to "withering criticism" and made "almost paranoid demands that they not look at her."[ 3. Be on time Be prepared Be pleasant to others Be grateful for opportunities Deliver on your promises Be as good a business person as you are an artist Remember ultimately, people will not work with someone who isnt the above no matter how good/ talented/famous they are Patiently build your resume with the experiences that will make people want to work with you 4. Who You Work With Performances & Exhibitions Competitions and Awards Residency Programs Grants Commissions 5. Obviously, every time you have an opportunity to work with someone celebrated in your eld, you should take it. Master classes, seminars, classes, etc., all add to your resume and show others where your interests lie (and your potential inuences). Also publicize any work youve been able to do with established artists, organizations, companies, galleries, etc. each one will help others get to know you. Keep records, photographs, yers, recordings, any physical documentation of the events Publicize them on your resume and any other promotional materials each one lets people know youre serious, youre professional and that you are good to work with (it gives people a reason to ask about you). 6. Hopefully, this process is already underway performances as part of being in school are valuable ways to build your resume. In school, seek out ensemble directors (in and out of your dept, dont forget about ensembles for non-majors) as well as your fellow students; make friends with those you would like to work with. Talk to teachers about conferences and competitions that may provide performances outside of school environs. After school, keep up your network, see if friends are still interested in performing or showing your work think of non- conventional or alternate options. Every performance or show will impress others. Second performances and exhibitions of the same work mean even more. 7. Every artistic discipline has a variety of competitions that you can enter. These are best found through the service organizations that exist by discipline (for composers, includes ASCAP, American Music Center, federal, state and city arts agencies) Also note that many performing arts organizations have competitions for people to work with them (VOX) While some have entry fees, be judicious and enter the competitions that you feel have the best chance of showing Competitions that give you performances and exhibitions are most valuable (versus ones that provide money) 8. Be realistic enter ones that you have shot at (you wont win a Pulitzer if you are just starting your career) Dont pay to play you can spot a fake at fty yards (and if you do, do it for the right reasons) Do your research; look for competitions that, because of restrictions on who can apply, might favor you If you are young enough to enter young artist competitions, enter as many as you can while you can Are there programs through your school programs (or for alumni)? Enter as many as you can. 9. Follow all instructions and reporting requirements; be as professional as possible with whomever provides the award Find out if there are future opportunities through the same sources (additional competitions, can you re-apply, etc.) If there are performances or shows, be prepared! Dont make them come after you for what you are supposed to provide. People talk (and they know each other) Publicize, publicize, publicize! Your resume, your website, Facebook, other competitions, invite as many as possible to any public events 10. Two types of residency programs: Short or long term involvement with an organization that involves studio space and project work that generally results in an exhibition or performance. You live on your own and are responsible for your own living expenses On-site residencies (usually no more than 3 months), where, in addition to studio space, you are provided with room and board and a creative environment. Usually, you travel to these places. Some of these are completely free, others have daily or weekly fees. These programs are excellent resume builders and demonstrate that a jury of peers feel that you should be given time and space to do your work (regardless of career level) They are also excellent opportunities to get work done and add performances or exhibitions to your resume The best resource for nding residencies is The Alliance of Artist Communities (book and website) 11. Be honest about your career level (remember, a jury reviews your application) Be realistic about what you plan to do while in residence (dont over or under estimate) Submit work examples that not only show your best creative output but that are also relevant to what you are proposing to do Express condence in your ability to get the job done (cite other examples as appropriate) Be honest about the benets of attending (including the fact that it is a resume builder) 12. Actually work if you are not working, it will be noticed If you get artists block, subtly let people know that you have it, people wont talk that way Get to know the sta, they are often a wealth of resources on other programs and resume builders (and frequently refer) Network, network, network with other artists (at the appropriate time) Publicize your involvement and stay in touch with their alumni groups and newsletters Enjoy the opportunity for uninterrupted creative time 13. Grants are money that are given to you, generally for the purposes of carrying out a specic project. Some grants (MacArthur, Guggenheim, Pew, etc.) are given just because youre a good artist, but they are much harder to get and usually carry expectations of completing some type of work There is no expectation that you will repay the money unless you fail to complete the project You will, however, be expected to provide status reports on your progress and some kind of report as to how the funds granted were spent Remember creative projects can be found in a variety of settings, you can write music, you can write a book, you can curate, there are lots of options your creative AND your scholarly background can be sources of grants (and help build the resume) 14. When you nd a grant that looks interesting, check eligibility and how they give money. Some groups will give money directly to artists Others prefer that you apply under the rubric of a sponsoring organization almost always must be a non-prot 501(c)(3) If you can, cultivate relationships with area arts organizations who might be willing to apply on your behalf Check factors like age, gender, ethnicity, location, etc. many grant programs have restrictions in these areas (which can be a plus or minus) 15. City and state arts agencies (not only their own programs but also list opportunities from other) Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, Mid-America Arts Alliance, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities Service organizations that serve as clearing houses for available grants American Music Center, Aaron Copland Fund for New Music, College Music Society, Natl Association of Composers USA (NACUSA), Opera America, ARTS-USA, Springboard for the Arts, Warhol Foundation Arts organizations in the area you want to work or with whom you want to work Look for groups with similar artistic values, if you are a performance artist a la Karen Finley, chances are the local Gilbert & Sullivan Society is not going to be receptive to collaboration 16. Arts groups that have short and long-term residency programs In Houston, look at Diverse Works, Lawndale Arts Center, Mitchell Center for Interdisciplinary Arts, Center for Contemporary Craft Local Foundations and Endowments While generally dicult to obtain as most dont fund individuals, some may be approachable for certain types of projects. Think of ways you could collaborate with an arts organization that could apply on your behalf with you as primary artist Professional membership organizations and/or unions Houston Musicians Union, ASCAP, BMI, Dramatists Guild, Authors League, Visual Artist Guild Web-based resources Simple web searches might lead you to a variety of programs and opportunities 17. Complete the application fully, honestly and on time! Answer the questions that are asked, dont provide lots of ancillary information Follow the instructions (if they ask for a one page summary, give them one page, not three) Be candid about your career stage (remember, these are judged by peers) Be realistic about your project and goals Are there grants that might fund specic areas of your project (e.g., composing, scoring, performance)? Give a realistic time frame 18. With the Funder Be sure you understand what is expected (no shame in asking questions) Do what is expected you will not get a second chance Be competent, collegial and, if needed, ask for help Stay in your budget there is no more money! Do updates as they are requested File all nal reports completely, accurately and with gratitude Beyond that Promote the fact that you received it (if allowed), press releases, web site, bio, facebook If theres a performance/exhibition, make it successful Invite other grant-givers (even if they dont come, its publicity) Document, document, document Watch your taxes (get a good accountant if you need one) 19. Simila