GRANT AND RESIDENCY APPLICATION TIPS
by Laura Shabott
(Laura Shabott is a Provincetown artist, writer and actor. An SMFA graduate , she has returned to painting and drawing after 23 years in other mediums through a Romano Rizk Scholarship from the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. In this feature, she shares her tips for successful grant writing)
Most creative people tend to focus on the process of art making and ignore the money part. But receiving a grant isn’t only about the cash; it is a public acknowledgement of excellence, and we need that validation in order to sustain and thrive as serious artists.
So why not go for it? Someone is going to get that grant — it might as well be you. Below are best practices for applying along with a compilation of resources.
RESEARCH WHICH GRANTS ARE RIGHT FOR YOU
Monies for artists often have specific guidelines such as medium, age or place of residence. A few hours of focused online or library research will separate the wheat from the chaff. To make the most of your time, create a list of applicable grants with their deadline dates for the next year.
GET PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF YOUR WORK
In the era of phone photography, many artists take their own high-resolution shots. This isn’t a good idea unless you are a pro. Jurors and grants administrators judge your work by these images. Pay a photographer who specializes in portfolio imagery. Like investing in the perfect Little Black Dress or Gallery Opening Suit, the “cost per wear” of your high-quality jpegs will be well worth the cash outlay. You will also use your professional shots for websites, postcards, representa- tion queries, gallery shows, applying for residencies and requests for inclusion in publications.
For example, the Massachusetts Cultural Council required the following for their 2015 Drawing application:
Work samples that do not adhere to the
following guidelines will not be reviewed. Work completed prior to 2012 is ineligible. Upload five images, in JPG format, into your CallforEntry.org (CaFE) Portfolio. When filling out MCC’s online applica- tion in CaFE, select images to submit in the order (1-5) that you wish them to be viewed (left to right).
Preparing Your Digital Images
Images must be saved in JPG format.
The image (horizontal or vertical) must be 1920 pixels on the longest side or the online system won’t accept them. The resolution size should be a minimum of 72 dpi. The maximum file size is 3 MB. (Read tips on preparing your images.) Panel review of work samples is anonymous. Therefore, neither your name, nor any information identifying commissions, awards, reviews and/or presentations should appear on your work sample or … work sample description.
Many talented and deserving people end up ineligible because the images were incorrect. Don’t let that be you!
CREATE A POWERFUL ARTIST STATEMENT
Imagine that you are a grants administrator sitting at a computer and looking at hundreds of applications, deciding who gets to the next level and who is getting passed. Our nemesis — the artist statement — is as important as the work itself in making it past the first sweep.
This is how you do it. Study how artists write about their work. Read at least a dozen statements on websites, in galleries and museums. Plan to obsess over this. You might end up with both long (one typed page) and short (250 words) versions. If you can’t (or won’t) get it done, then hire someone rather than miss out on applying for grants. Before your final copy is submitted, get a person who writes to check it for