Week 3: Applying for Artist Grants

Week 3:  Applying for Artist Grants

Artist Grants:  An Introduction

Yes, there are the artist grants that everyone knows about:  NEA, Guggenheim, MacAurthur, etc.  But there are many grants that aren’t as highly sought after, which emerging artists have a much better chance of obtaining.  Why don’t people know about them, then?  They don’t do their research, and it’s as simple as that.  With that in mind, here are some resources which will help you research the grants that are best suited to your budget and proposed project:

The Database Database:  Grantspace.org has culled a selection of resources, which include the organization’s own list of opportunities for individual artists, searchable databases of foundation grants to individuals, webinars, and online training modules.  Click here:  http://grantspace.org/tools/knowledge-base/Individual-Grantseekers/Artists/funding-for-individual-artists

The Database of Databases:  Another list of resources, which includes descriptions and hyperlinks.  Click here:  http://artgrants.blogspot.com/

Michigan State University Libraries:  A fairly comphrehensive list of grants to individuals.  Click here:  http://staff.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/3arts.htm

Specialized Grants:  You may qualify for special grants based on race, gender, ethnicity, geographic location, etc.  For a list of some more specialized grants, click here:  http://www.womenarts.org/funding-resources/sourcesforindividualartists/

Crafting the Perfect Cover Letter:  Some Tips

Many grants, such as the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation, ask for an initial letter of inquiry, which describes the project, its scope, the budget, and your credentials for undertaking the project.  The purpose is for the foundation to get to know you a bit, and ascertain whether or not it’s a potential match, before they ask you to send additional materials.  The materials requested at this stage are often much more comprehensive, and may include as many as six letters of reference

As you draft this initial letter of intent, here are the questions you’ll need to address: 

  • How much money are you requesting?
  • What is the nature of project for which funds are being sought? You’ll want to include a brief (100-200 word) description, similar to the one you drafted for your residency application. 
  • How does the project support the grant agency’s mission? To address this question, you’ll need to see if the funding source to which you’re applying has a mission statement.  Sometimes they can be quite specialized, such as the Kittredge Fund, which is aimed at artists in the early stages of a promising career, or the Elizabeth George Foundation, which makes grants to novelists who are unpublished.  You’ll want to situate your proposed project in relation to the grant agency’s existing mission. 
  • Why are you the one who is best suited to carry out this project? You’ll want to give details about your credentials, which may include formal training that relates to the project, publications in the genre you’re proposing to work in, awards, honors, recognitions, etc.
  • How will funds be used? Many applicants use this part of the letter to mention artist residencies, writing conferences, and workshops they wish to attend, and explain how they will assist with the completion of the project.     

Reading Assignment:  The Do’s and Don’ts

How to Write a Grant Proposal:  http://www.artistsnetwork.com/articles/business-of-art/how-to-write-a-grant-proposal

How Not to Write a Grant Proposal:  http://chronicle.com/article/How-to-Fail-in-Grant-Writing/125620/


Writing Assignment:  Show Me the Money

From the funding options you listed in your Discussion Assignment, choose two. Then write two cover letters, each for a different grant opportunity.  If you’re unsure how to structure the letter, take a look at the sample cover letter (below) or simply use the bullet point list above, devoting one paragraph to each bullet point question. 

Sample Cover Letter:  http://media.kaboom.org/docs/documents/pdf/Fundraising_sample_cover_letter.pdf


Kristina Marie DarlingKristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty collections of poetry. Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University’s Kittredge Fund. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in English Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University.