“Ever since I became a foreign music student in the U.S. school system when I was 16, I had been dealing with complicated visa system. In my opinion, it’s one of the hardest obstacles us foreign artists must overcome. However, on the bright side, this country offers us, many ways to stay and work if you learn the system, be organized, and have patience by proving that you are “an alien with an extra ordinary ability”.
I was on F-1(student visa) for 8 years, OPT for 1 year, O1-B for 3 years, and finally obtained EB-1 (artist greencard) 2 years ago. Even though it was definitely a long journey with many challenges, I am glad I was forced to reevaluate and prove myself as an artist by collecting evidence needed to obtain these visas. For more detailed thoughts on this, please read this article I wrote for QCA last year – Chihiro Shibayama’s Greencard Journey.”
If you are serious about staying in the U.S. as an artist, this QCA’s workshop will be a perfect opportunity for you to learn about what kind of actions you must take to obtain an artist visa. Since it’s very important to start preparing to apply for visas enough months in advance, it’s never too late to start researching for your options.
Of course, attending this workshop doesn’t mean you will get the visa, but I’m confident that it will point you in the right direction so that you can take the first step on your journey to obtaining a visa you want to keep doing what you love legally in this country.Living and working as an international artist in another country is not easy. Are you an artist from abroad with dreams of making it big in the New York City art scene? Have you missed teaching art in your home country and would like to return to the classroom in the U.S.?
Attend this Build Your Own Business (BYOB) workshop with expert immigration lawyer George Akst and learn how to navigate the process of acquiring an O-1 visa. From Latin America and the Caribbean to Eastern Europe and Asia, Mr. Akst has been helping artists and communities with important resources on immigration law for over 35 years.
Wednesday, November 12, 6 – 8pm
Queens Council on the Arts 37-11 35th Ave (entrance on 37th St) , Astoria, NY 11101
George Akst received his B.A. in Economics from Boston University in 1972. He attended The Hague Academy of International Law in the Netherlands in 1973 and received his J.D. from Fordham Law School in 1976 where he was a member of the Urban Law Journal. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1977 and is admitted to practice in the Federal District Court and US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He has been a Member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1984, as well as the Consular Law Society. He is also on the referral list of the NYC Commission on the United Nations, Division of International Business.
The Build Your Own Business Program is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support provided by Investors Foundation and Surdna Foundation. Special thanks especially to members of the NYC Queens Delegation: The Honorable CM Costa Constantinides, 22nd District, The Honorable Karen M. Koslowitz, 29th District,The Honorable CM James Van Bramer, 26th District, The Honorable Marc Weprin, and 23rd District.
Back when I was a struggling starry eyed author, I made one single decision that changed my life.
I listened to the voice in my soul that said,
“You story is what the world needs to hear.
And I started to study what I needed to be successful.
And perhaps even more importantly, what obstacles I needed to kick out of my way from being successful because I knew what was at stake.
That was just a part of it…
I now had more than a goal – I had a mission.
I was driven by a newly focused passion to fulfill my mission to share stories about what connects us as people with the world.
That started me on a path of personal development as a creative soul that has never stopped. Along the way, I’ve been successfully published and built a happy life never straying from that single mission that guides me every day.
It wasn’t always fast or easy, but it has been an amazing journey.
And here’s the interesting thing…
Over the years I have met hundreds of successful artists and creative people. Do you know what EVERY SINGLE ONE of them share in common?
They are all serious students of success armed with a powerful mission.
Why this is so important for you
The fact is, you have to get your inner game together before the outer success comes.
To gain success in creating a rich life, you need give the world unique value only you can create.
How do you start?
Writing a grant is the best way to begin.
Consider it “a shot across the bow” into a world of foundations and philanthropies who exist soley to make the world a better place by giving away money to people with passionate missions like you.
Not to workshops…
Not to exhibitions….
Not to projects….
People fund people.
That is, people with passion in their soul for a mission that matches perfectly with their own.
If that basic chemistry is amiss, the workshops, exhibitions and projects are meaningless.
I have worked with hundreds of artists after sitting on international, national and local grant review panels for over a decade and I know what works and what doesn’t.
Successful artists do certain things right.
And when they get a grant, they move up to the next level. They do what I call “grantstacking” to build successful careers and lives.
Are you an artist looking to grow your career?
Have you ever written a grant?
Did your grant proposal get turned down?
Here’s how to study for success
I want you to be the one clutching an award letter in your hand.
You deserve to have the money and support for your creative project.
Because you are an artist with a vision that can change the world.
The same world that foundations, philanthropies and yes, even the government wants to make better.
The same world that wants my stories.
The world that wants what only you can create.
The Most Important Question
Of all the questions you have to answer in a grant proposal, the one that is not always obvious but is the most important one you need to nail is this:
This is your mission speaking.
And the second most important question is:
This is urgency speaking.
Even if you do not see this clearly spelled out for you, answer it.
The answer to Why? is why you are the best candidate for the grant.
This is the answer a grant panelist needs to guarantee that your proposal makes it into the Yes pile.
Your answer will show that you know exactly what the funder’s mission is and what is important to her. That your missions are aligned.
You will make her confident in your ability to successfully carry out your project and achieve your shared goals.
The answer to Why now? is that you recognize an urgency, a need, a moment and you have a vision for something amazing to happen.
Yes, we need information.
Your proposal will include a lot of that.
But on a deeper level we need inspiration.
Consider this when you put your proposal together:
A stack of proposals towering over a bleary eyed, under-caffeinated group of grant panelists. A handful will be really great and immediately rise to the top. Another handful will be really bad and get eliminated. That leaves a lot of proposals sagging in the middle.
You want to be in the the fistful of winners.
The secret sauce
“God, I just want to be unexpectedly delighted,” sighed one of my fellow grant reviewers at the midpoint of a fellowship panel recently.
“Can you be more specific?” I probed, secretly delighted myself because I, too, was feeling the fatigue of wading through a sea of faintly inspired proposals.
“There’s this great quote by J.D. Salinger –
What really knocks me out is a book that,
when you’re done reading it,
you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours
and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.
- well, that’s the kind of feeling I look for in a great proposal.”
That has to be one of the best definitions of delight I have ever heard and it really captures the essence of that unmistakeable quality of a great proposal.
How are you going to use this?
Some of you may be newbies at writing grants.
Many of you are busy and quite overwhelmed thinking about doing another thing like writing grants.
Some of you wonder how you will stand out from your competition if you are not well known.
If this is you, it is great to be you!
You can use these 2 questions to drill down to what your core mission is as an artist and why you need the grant now. Your answers will position yourself not as an applicant, but as a partner to your funder.
What do funders really want?
Some of you don’t know where to start.
Mission is the bedrock of your inner game. It is what you build your passion on and what attracts success.
Start by defining and refining the answer to Why? and Why now? to bring your personal creative mission into crystal clear focus.
This internal journey will probably take the most time and effort but will be the most powerful message you can create for yourself.
A little research about recent grantees can tell you a great deal about what a funder’s mission is and what they are passionate about.
If that resonates with your answers to those 2 questions, you have a good prospect.
One last, but very important thing…
You are competing for a scarce commodity: attention.
The one thing that will startle people into giving you another precious moment of their time and attention is –
Convince me you are the best candidate for the grant, persuade me that the time is now…
Startle me with a bit of imaginative thinking, or simply delight me, and you are golden.
You people are amazing artists, you know how to do this better than anyone.
In my next post I will show you how to put all of this into a powerful strategy to build up your base of funders and raving fans.
I’ve got a lot more great information for you so join me for this special event:
By now you know that you need to know how to write a killer grant to build your art career.
I have already covered a lot of the all important basics in the Grantwriting 101 Tutorial, and my recent posts were all about what funders really look for in a proposal and how to present yourself as the best candidate for a grant.
I want to introduce you to powerful strategy I use called the Grantstacking Sequence.
My experience as a grant panelist and grant provider have helped me develop this method which I have taught people to do to boost their grant writing skills & confidence for many years.
Don’t get overwhelmed by this.
Get the core thinking of each step and take baby steps.
I go into greater depth about this sequence in my upcoming Grantwriting 101 Roundup.
OK, let’s talk about building your success through the Grantstacking Sequence.
1. Your Common Goals
This is a little bit of soul searching…
What are you passionate about?
What is your funder passionate about?
What do you share as a common passion?
Once you figure this out, you will know the rarified arena you will be focusing on.
2. Your Unique Offer
Here’s an example of a unique offer:
A small theatre company with a passion for presenting works by emerging playwrights found a funder with a passion for the arts & social equity.
What they had in common was a concern over racial tensions rising in a local community between the police and the immigrant teenage youth population.
The theatre company’s unique offer was a project to produce a a series of short plays with scenes written by police officers and students reimagining a recent conflict.
The audience, which was composed of town officials, members of the police department and families of the teenagers, was stunned by what the plays revealed.
3. The Grant Conversation
How do you get to a point where you can craft a proposal that is that unique and specific?
How do you maintain your position as a creative force and still provide value?
I say do it old school. Pick up the phone and start a conversation.
Or ask for a meeting and start talking.
This is the most important step in the sequence, where the true relationship is built.
And remember, people fund people.
Grants is a relationship business.
4. The Grant Proposal
You’ve done your soul searching, you’ve had your grant conversation and your grant proposal contains your unique offer.
It can go one of two ways.
Yes, you get the grant and you pop the cork of that champagne bottle.
No, you don’t get the grant and you want to drown yourself at the bottom of bottle.
Either way, you return to –
5. The Grant Conversation…
If you get the grant, call to say thank you and to ask for comments.
If you don’t get the grant, call to say thank you and to ask for comments.
Here’s where you get grantwriting insights that are gold.
The comments on your grant, whether you get it or not, will tell you what you did right and what you did wrong.
It will also teach you how to write better grants and build your relationship with your funder.
Does this sound like you?
I know a lot of you are thinking, “I’m an artist. Writing grants is out of my comfort zone.”
All amazing things that happen in your life come at the edge of your comfort zone.
You have to be ready to jump at the opportunities that will bring your closer to your dream of a bigger life and career – a jump that will land you outside of your comfort zone.
This is an important decision you have to make for yourself.
You are an artist and know that sometimes your art will take people outside of their comfort zone.
But that experience ultimately opens their ability to see and to think about things differently.
The same is true for you as you write grants. I can guide you through this.
Some of you believe, “I’m new at this and I feel out of my league.”
Anyone who has ever had big success started feeling the same way.
What makes the difference between very successful people and the rest of the world is that they take steps, usually baby steps, – learning, failing, picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and starting all over again every day until they are standing firmly in their success.
You also need a plan. A blueprint or a sequence to follow so that you begin to form a habit of successful actions that will lead to a successful grant. I call this a grantstacking sequence.
Or, “This isn’t going to work for me.”
Henry Ford had a great piece of wisdom about that. He said,
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
I believe you are capable of achieving the success you picture for yourself.
I can help you with achieving your vision, but not with your mental head trashing.
You have a big decision to make for yourself – are you ready to step up to a bigger life, a bigger career, and a bigger vision making an impact on the people around you?
This is what I want you to have and it is my job to hold you to going after your bigger vision.
How do I get started?
I want you to get a grant.
I want you to be successful and confident as you build your creative career and lifestyle.
If you missed my Grantwriting 101 Tutorial, don’t worry.
I will be releasing a wrap up report of all of the key insights and inside tips we covered in my upcoming Grantwriting 101 Wrap Report.
This is a great collection of what works, what doesn’t work and what will turn your grant proposal into an award letter – from a grant panelist’s view.
Interested in getting a copy of it when it is released?
By now you know you that getting a grant is all about convincing your funder you get it.
You want to outshine the rest of the applicants in the pool with your proposal.
You want her to sit up and take notice of you.
She can’t believe how perfect you are for the grant, how in sync you are with what is important to her.
How easy it is to talk to you, how aligned your missions and passions are.
It’s almost as if you were twins separated at birth.
She places your proposal reverently in the Yes pile with a smile….
Sound good to you?
Of course it does!
Does it really happen?
Of course it does! More often than you think.
I just served on a panel for a huge public art commission where this happened.
All of us voted to award an artist who was talented and very strategic in how he presented himself as the best candidate.
Was his proposal well written?
Yes and no.
His proposal may have gotten him in the door, but it was his personality and communication skills that kept him there. In his artistic presentation, he actually told a story that his CV and artist statement could not.
Here are four key takeaways from this successfully funded artist:
1. Have a Stunning Pitch
I love when artists talk about how they think.
Sometimes it is tempting to recite the project narrative or the first few sentences of your artist statement, emphasizing your skills and past successes. However, a personal and evocative pitch about your project that connects you and the person who will actually engage with your work can be a powerful way to describe the impact you will make.
This artist talked about how he envisioned a space for people to experience joy through color everyday. He spent time at the designated site and watched how people rushed through the space without looking around them inspiring him to create an art installation that would surround them with “enchanting color”.
Like everyone else on the panel, I had already visited his simple and elegant website which was up to date and easy to navigate. I read his artist statement and learned a great deal about him and his past work.
Later on, one of the panelists commented that he spoke only about the benefits the artwork would bring to the community, not about himself,
He didn’t have to.
2. Speak in Testimonials
When you shop online, don’t you scan the buyers’ reviews and user testimonials to help you decide?
The panel review is not so different – in fact it is incredibly powerful to share your skills and reputation through the mouths of others who have noticed you.
This artist simply cited the words of praise he received – particularly those that came from key community members in the designated area. He actually spent time in the area getting feedback from residents about his proposed piece. For example:
“I like the energy of the colors you picked, they remind me of my country.”
“Feels like I’m getting hugged, by all them colors.”
“Can I have it?”
It makes a statement when others, and in this case – people in the target community, appreciate your skills.
3. Show Great Work Samples
Each artist brought work samples.
Some were renderings, some were models, some were powerpoint presentations.
They brought the vision of each artist to life.
But why stop there?
The artist who won the commission showed us a rendering – not especially inspiring.
He pointed out the patterns of color, he talked about how it would look during the day and during the night – not too original a concept.
We started to wonder if we were going to be disappointed.
But then he paused and said, “Let me show you exactly what I mean.”
He propped up a 2 samples of his work against the window and the room went silent.
We were immediately drawn in to these beautifully presented pieces. All of us jumped up to walk around the pieces and to experience the intensity of the colors.
He had us.
Because his work samples allowed us to glimpse that experience of joy.
4. Boost Confidence
At some point after the presentation, the we asked about his willingness to be flexible about things like colors, budgets and timelines.
Most candidates are not prepared to use this question to their advantage—they take the easy way out by simply saying, “Yes.”
A better approach? This artist admitted he went over budget in his overall big picture design. Then he shared the steps he took to find other fabricators who would work with him to achieve his creative vision for a lower cost.
In doing so, he showed us that he recognized an important problem, he corrected it and was able to show us that he would be easy to work with in producing the piece.
Bottom line? You are more than a proposal sitting on top of someone’s desk but it’s up to you to prove you are worth funding.
Make our questions work for you—not against you—by sharing a creative and confident message about who you are, why you’re the best candidate, and the unique value you will bring to the project.
So yes, these are the things this very talented and experienced artist did that landed him the commission that you can do for your next proposal.
What is holding you back?
Don’t know where to start?
Don’t know how to find the right funders?
Don’t know what funders want?
I have a lot more to share with you about being a grantwriting rock star…