Art school bound seniors applied and interviewed for our Seniors Intensive fall session this past Saturday October 4th at QCA.
Our instructors have selected a class of 15 students to become a community of artists and peers who will be be working on their portfolios, essays, and artistic content for the next 13 Saturdays and Thursdays.
Some of the highlights for the HS2AS program this fall are Art Info Day (College reps come to present and do portfolio reviews on October 25), National Portfolio Day (November 16), drawing from models, and going on various museum, gallery, and studio visits.
When she finally emerges to start her day at 2:00 pm, she puts on her chic wig, applies her make up and pours herself into a roomy silk cheong sam that rustles around her flat slippers.
But her routine doesn’t stop there.
There are, of course, all those late afternoon mahjongg games that seep into the early hours of the morning. How else do you catch up on all the gossip?
And since Fred is gone, there is her ritual of calling for a car: “Send me young Ling, he knows I don’t like to wait. What? No, I simply refuse to have anyone else. Do you know who I am?”
When people talk to her about her children bickering with each other she flyswats their unfinished questions with a heavily ringed hand and informs them she prefers having them go at each other’s throats until they figure out how to get along.
After all, that’s what her warlord father did whenever his concubines had arguments.
She enjoys the blank stares that appear on their faces.
As she absentmindedly settles into her seat at the dim sum palace, she thinks about her four daughters and why they never agree.
“Should I stay home this evening or should I go to my granddaughter’s violin recital? Who in their right mind thought music lessons were a good idea for her anyway?
Sigh, it wasn’t really the poor little girl’s fault. But then again, Yvonne wasn’t really her grandmother.
Clearly, Yvonne is not so much strange as she is just complex. Like most humans.
Like every one of your funders.
How well do you know your funders?
Where your big grant idea should start
We all need to know our funders so that we can create proposals they will want to support. This is why the Grantstacking Sequence is so powerful.
It doesn’t start with the project. Or you.
It starts with the funder.
That means the tools you use to build relationships – the daily social media things you do like Twitter or Instagram, weekly rehearsal or workshop updates, the scheduled performances or exhibitions, the conversations — all contribute to attracting a growing base of funders and fans. As that base grows, you learn more about their particular passions, missions, needs, wants, hopes, and frustrations.
That information allows you to build a portfolio of that funder and what is important to them. When you subtly acknowledge that portfolio in your relationship building, it allows you to create proposals they actually want to grant money for.
Here’s the secret: What you know is not as compelling as how much you care.
Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
Think of it as “walking in someone else’s shoes” or “entering the conversation that is already going on in a person’s heart.”
The successful grantwriters who address these feelings in their projects will rise to the top of the pile effortlessly … without seeming to blatantly pitch anything at all.
When you get it right, you become part of the funder’s narrative
You’ve seen it in advertising. When it is done right, it hits you and you say, “Wow, they really know me”.
They are the commercials that make you smile or cry. They are the ads that zero in on your emotions.
Watch this video by Google that targets dads.
This is a story about a father using technology to record his emotional connection as a father – his pride, joy, wonder, humility – all the things we respond to.
Does it blatantly pitch Google?
No. It positions Google as a partner to all fathers who share these emotions.
With Google, the product is part of the narrative.
Does this approach work? Yes, it does.
It is common marketing wisdom: emotional ads outperform informational ones by 19 percent.
Introducing the Two Sentence Lens
The only problem is that you, as a working artist, don’t have the time or resources to experience all of your funders’ thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. So, you have to find another way to experience these qualities: research.
How do you cut to the chase?
This first sentence will clarity the funder’s needs and wants and help you to establish deep and personal empathy with them.
My funder needs a better way to__________________ .
This second sentence you may have to repeat several times until you drill down to the real emotional reason this is important to do. Think of the Google video. “Google helps fathers by helping them record their emotions of every special moment of being a father to share with their family”
This helps others by_____________________.
Who are my funders?
Identify who might be a funder or a fan of yours. Here are some people to think about:
Funders you have researched
Funders and supporters of other artists you admire
Attendees of award events, gallery openings, premieres, fundraisers,
Local businesses, chambers of commerce, utilities and banks
Emerging millennial leaders
Local and mainstream media
Make a list.
At the bottom of the list, draw two boxes: “The 2:00 am Worry” and “The Big Dream.”
In “The 2:00 am Worry” box, you put your funders’ challenges and frustrations.
Ask, “What keeps them up worrying at 2:00 am?’” _________________________________________
In “The Big Dream” box, write down mission and the goals your funders hope to accomplish.
Ask, “What drives my funder to get up in the morning?” and “What are her hopes and dreams?” _______________________
You need to know this
“Such detailed work is overwhelming! I’m an artist, I don’t have time for this!”
Trust me, this is not research overkill.
None of it will go to waste. In fact, research will help you define and redefine your funder over time. And you can never know too much about people who give you money.
You need to constantly do research. That’s how you crawl into your funder’s head.
Your turn …
There is more than one way to research your funders, and this is just one of many.
What other methods have you used? Let’s continue the discussion in the comments.
In some cases, you can develop a relationship with your funders by becoming part of their world for several days, weeks, or months.
For example, at Queens Council on the Arts, just about every successful artist who we we work with attended workshops and events that we presented both before they received a grant from us and afterwards. They are front of mind for other opportunities that pop up.
We appreciate your participation in our activities as an artist and more importantly, as a peer model to other artists.
We are partners in your success with because we empathize.
We’ve been there, and will be there, every day.
Here’s what I have for you
I am finishing up a special report that will put together all of the information we covered in the Grantwriting 101 Tutorial.
It is the best advice you can get about writing a winning grant from an experienced grant panelist.
I am here to give you the tools, strategies and thinking you need to create proposals that win award letters and to build a creative business.
I have over 15 years experience as the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts, as a grantmaker and a grant panelist for foundations, philanthropies & corporations around the country
And what is more important is that I am passionate about helping artists like you create a rich life.
I am on a mission to make you the best candidate for a grant by pulling back the curtain on what really happens when a grant panel meets.
Who else can give you that invaluable rare peek into a panelist’s thinking?
Not only will you get all of the information from the teleseminar calls, you will also get:
exclusive interviews with prominent funders
a resource guide of websites and services to put everything you need to write a winning grant at your fingertips
I want all of you to be confident about your ability to make art and create your rich life now.
This report will keep you on track on that path to success.
If you want us to let you know as soon as this special report is ready, just click below.
The deadline for all Queens Arts Fund grant applications is one week away!
Deadline: October 9th at 11:59 p.m.
Let’s run down a list of common mistakes and their respective solutions.
Mistake #1: Incoherent, sloppy writing
We have seen plenty of applications that read as if they were written, last minute, by a Benzedrine-addled Beat Generation writer. This is not the place for stream-of-consciousness writing—it should be constructed with carefully chosen words.
While this may not get your application thrown out right out of the gate, if panelists are comparing two similar projects and one is simply has a better use of language than yours, it could easily get thrown out of the running.
This may seem simple, but can’t really be stated enough. Review your work before submission. A week may not seem like a long time, but you can fit in plenty of time to read over your application carefully, again and again.
Here is my own step-by-step proofreading process.
Proofread your application once on your own.
Make the changes
Take a break from it for a little bit.
Return to the application and proofread again.
Make the changes.
Give a copy of your application (and the grant guidelines as well) to a trustworthy, intelligent friend (and maybe offer to buy him/her a drink to sweeten the deal—you may get a quicker turnaround and better feedback).
Make changes based on your friend’s feedback.
Repeat this process as much as possible before submitting and use another friend the second time around. Feel free to mess around with the order
Pretty easy right? This process can also catch some of the following mistakes.
Mistake #2: “Hmm…it looks like this applicant did not read the guidelines…at all.”
“Oh. I see about 75% of your expenses are going toward the purchase of a Moog® Sub 37 Analog Synthesizer. Those are super amazing machines and I wish I had one as well. Too bad equipment purchases are forbidden as per the QAF guidelines.”
Things like this, or mentioning that your production is slated for a Manhattan performance in your application, or really anything that goes directly against the guidelines shows a lack of careful reading on the applicants part. This = bad.
Solution: Carefully read the guidelines alongside your application
Mistake #3: Budget numbers don’t add up/ask amount exceeds $5,000/does not show 25% of expenses covered by non-QAF income
Overlapping with Mistake #2, presenting a grant request amount that exceeds $5,000 shows either a disregard for the guidelines or a lack of care when constructing your budget. Sometimes applicants discuss a group of collaborators in the narrative section, but in the budget they are not even mentioned.
Solution: Compare your budget with your answers to the narrative questions, re-do your budget
This is more or less “number-proofreading.” Heck, you may catch these problems when taking care of Mistake #1.
Any people/items/venues that are mentioned in the narrative need to be addressed in the budget (and vice versa as well). Compare these sections. If these items are being covered financially in some other way, this needs to be clearly explained. Don’t leave panelists with any questions, because you will not be at the panel meeting to answer them.
For an example of the 25% rule: If you have $9,000 in total expenses then you need to show a total income of at least $2,250, which is 25% of $9,000. Check your math!
Mistake #4: Poor work samples
Unless your vinyl-covered, split-pea-colored loveseat is relevant to your proposed project, do not use it as a stage when photographing your lovely painting. This kind of thing is distracting and unprofessional. Sometimes an audio sample of what should be choral music, sounds more like a Library of Congress field recording of buffalo from 1893.
Remember a key criteria—especially for individual artists—is the quality and artistic merit of submitted work samples. Lead with your best foot forward.
Solution: Choose the best and most relevant work samples.
And re-do them if they are not of great quality. No blurry pictures. No weird shadows of your body cast over your work. If you have trouble with technical aspects here, i.e. uploading and file format issues, let us know.
If photographing: Find a nice clean space instead with decent lighting, and crop your photos to best present your art objects.
If recording music/sound: Use a decent microphone and not your cell phone’s microphone.
If the sample is literary: There are not often issues with this. It should be typed and not handwritten, I suppose. Just make sure it’s the writing that best exemplifies your talent and work.
BONUS TIP: As a (very) generalized breakdown, QAF funds are really reserved for about four things: Peoples’ time/effort, advertising/promotion, Venues/spaces/studios, and supplies (consumables that only go towards the creation of the proposed project is a decent definition of “supplies”). This is true for all four of the grants QCA offers. Keep in mind, I said “generalized!”
The deadline is fast approaching but you still have time to apply for the 2015 SPARC Program. As a reminder, SPARC places artists-in-residence at senior centers across the five boroughs of New York City. In exchange for the creation and delivery of arts programming, SPARC artists will receive a stipend in the amount of $1,750, access to an additional $500 materials/supplies budget, and materials/supplies of their choosing from Materials for the Arts.
The October 9 deadline for 2015 Queens Arts Fund applications is nigh! I am sure many of you are busy getting your project budgets nice and tidy, while you share your application with a second reader (important to do!) who can honestly tell you if your application makes sense or not. (hint: it should make sense).
While you are diligently crafting and re-crafting your application, you may be wondering what happens after you submit. Here, let me tell you all about it!
After hitting the “submit” button at the bottom of the WizeHive online application, you will receive and email confirmation (from me: email@example.com) that reads: Thank you for applying for the Queens Arts Fund. Your application has been received. Grant notification letters will be sent via email by the end of December 2014. If you have questions please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
QCA staff will review the applications for completeness and sort them by artistic discipline to ready them for panel meetings.
While you have been hard at work on your application, Lynn and I have been gathering crack teams of panelists. Panelists are the major deciders and are artists, arts administrators, community members, and aesthetes. If you fancy yourself (or someone you know) the type who can make fair, informed decisions with the dispersal of public money to cultural projects, send your resume and brief description of yourself to email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Panel meetings will be held at the end of November/early December. Panelists score the applications in advance of their respective panel meeting. Each panel discusses each application assigned to their group and are able to change their scores based on the discussion. They then decide how to distribute their allotted sum of money. NOTE: QCA and its staff are facilitators and moderators of this process–we are not the decision makers.
These panel “decisions”–which are really “recommendations”–then go to the QCA board for approval. Once the board signs off on the recommendations, the Department of Cultural affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts (the two lovely sources of this grant money) need to approve of the final list.
After the multi-tiered approval process, QCA will send out notification letters at the end of December. Happy Holidays!
That’s more or less the behind-the-curtain look at how the applications process.