Collaborating on a grant application is easier than I thought it would be.

January 8th, 2014, 3pm

It was -14°C with overcast. The breeze was brisk.

I know, it’s been a while since I posted this moment. But I was lost in the land of deadlines and demands and then happily obsessed with my newest project - ossa ora - and just finished another grant application.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with arts grant applications, my husband describes them this way: Imagine that the project is a new business or tech startup. You have the idea and must write it in such a way so both the layperson and the expert can understand and relate to it. You write up a clear budget sticking to the arcane financial rules that govern whichever creative form you are applying within. You write your CV to exacting specifications. You supply proof that you have done related work in the past, again to exacting specifications. All of this is your business plan. You make sure that this business plan and all materials are delivered by a specific deadline. You wait for 3-6 months to hear back with no guarantee that your business plan will be accepted and funded. Some years you repeat this process 4-6 times with different business plans.

Once explained this way, a lot of people who complain to him about artists getting “free money” change their opinion.

It is interesting for me to compare my two recent grant applications. They are for the same project but framed differently so as to fit the criteria for the two granting agencies. The earlier application was done in partnership with an arts organization and went so smoothly. I didn’t have any of my usual fretting and stressing and panic about who might be on the jury. This recent grant application was me and only me and I fretted and stressed and even though I’ve sent the thing off I am still stressing about who might be on the jury.

I realized that doing a grant application collaboratively means that there is a built-in support mechanism. That there are people around who believe in the work as much as I do, and they are as excited and intrigued by the possibilities of the work as I am. When I do a grant on my own it is just me, alone, in my studio. When I go onto social media I find that many of my arts friends are also fretting and stressing as the deadline creeps closer and closer. But we are all fretting and stressing in our own little worlds, knowing that many of us will be competing for the same funds. And some of these friends might be on the juries, and that may or may not work in our favor. I’ve sat on juries. I’ve left the room when the jury is deliberating on a friend’s application. Things become much too personal otherwise.

The other aspect that is stressful for those of us working in interdisciplinary or innovative or experimental ways is not knowing if the jury will share the same aesthetic or be knowledgeable about the contexts in which we are working. For example, I know that for at least one of these applications I will be competing against singer-songwriters, jazz musicians, country bands, and rock bands for the same pool of funds while I am applying to write a piece of experimental chamber music. In some ways I’d love to be a fly-on-the-wall for such a jury meeting, but in other ways I can’t even imagine what might happen.

So, I shall wait and work on ossa ora. Wait and hope for funding, knowing that I will write the piece regardless of the money, because I will go crazy otherwise.

Cassie, Craig, abn, Amal and 5 others said thanks.

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Lia Pas

inter-disciplinary creator/performer

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