Alyssa’s Notes on Gigi Rosenberg’s Presentation on Grant Writing

Gigi Rosenberg talked to us this month about grant writing and the steps you can take to improve yourself. Rosenberg has written many grants as well as a book (The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing: How to Find Funds and Write Foolproof Proposals for the Visual, Literary, and Performing Artist) but still mentioned that she has not received many of the grants she has applied for, and it’s the process that means the most. Here are some of the tips she gave:

  • Overwhelming is a good thing; it means you have a lot to work with. Don’t get hung up, just start.
  • Even if you don’t get the award, grant writing is still great because:
    • It forces you to start planning out your project.
    • Clarifies your purpose.
    • It can help you increase your connections.
    • You can work in a new writing style.
    • You learn discipline.
    • You become more aware of the market you’re working towards.
    • Improves your marketing skills.
  • Grant writing is a great way to learn how to ask for help; you aren’t always going to be able to solve everything on your own.
  • There are two types of grant awarders. Private (foundations, individuals) and Public (Government). Understand who you’re writing to, and what they want from you to reassure them that you are the best choice.
  • Be aware of what the grant is asking from you, and write towards that.
  • When creating a plan of where your money will be coming from, make sure that this grant is not your last hope—this will turn off the judges.
    • There are different types of grants, but they all fall under these categories:
    • Fellowships/Awards: These give you money to keep doing what you’re doing. They award you money to keep up with your work.
    • Project Grant: Money towards the project you’re working on.
    • Residencies: Money towards your commitment to this project.
  • When you’re writing a grant, do not be generic. Make it specific to where and what you are applying for.
  • Rosenberg suggests a form similar to the following:
    • Narrative (Questions to answer)
    • Artist’s Statement
    • Budget (Everything, even if your uncle is filming for you)
    • Resume/Bio
    • Work Sample
  • Be sure that when you write your grant that all the pieces talk to each other. Your work sample should tie into your artist statement, each piece playing off each item to make your application the best it can be.
  • Go and apply. If you wait until everything is ‘perfect’ you’ll be waiting forever.
  • Figure out where you need to go next and how you need to get there.
  • Look at who won the grant previously and why they won.
  • Fore some grants, it might just be that you need to be a little more published first. If they know that you have completed a project before, they will be more willing to give you their money.
  • The Foundation Center will help people find grants based on date, topic, etc. Your local library will probably have access to it, or you can pay a small subscription fee.
  • Guidelines tend to be very specific. Look at them before you start and be sure that you include each item. This is why it’s good to start a couple months before hand and work towards it slowly rather than simply the night before.
  • You’ll never like your Artist Statement. Don’t ruin yourself over it.
  • Think of your project and picture it complete. Write down what it is in a phrase or sentence.
  • Pretend to be the other side. What would make you give someone money?
  • You can’t write about it until you’ve talked about it. Have people ask you about your project, this will help you see any holes in your plan.
  • Realize how smart you really are.
  • Remove all conditional words. Be confident. You do not “hope”, you “will”. It has to feel like it’s already complete, a plausible plan.
  • Don’t give the obvious.
  • Don’t wait for them. “This is my plan, are you coming?” They’ll follow.
  • You need to know the specifics of how you will spend the money and why they should chose you over everyone else.
  • Don’t freak out if you don’t get the grant, just keep writing and you’ll keep improving.
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