An Introduction to Artist Grants


An Introduction to Artist Grants

Joshua Chek


Have you ever stopped in front of a work of art and thought to yourself, “How did they get the money to do this?”. Or had a fantastic concept for new artworks, but couldn’t possibly afford the costs of the project? Artists generally don’t have bottomless wallets, and not all works can justify their creation price with their sale price. So how can an artist afford to make their works? 

Enter the grant. 

What is a Grant?

A grant is a sum of money awarded to artists in order for them to generate new works. Grants can range in prices from small to large, depending on the nature of the work and the providing organisation. For example, Australia Council for the Arts awards grants to artists ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. For many projects, this takes projects from way outside the realms of feasibility into a true reality. Flight tickets, materials, rent, equipment, documentation, food, etc. can be covered by the grant. And this isn’t just for the generation of new work. Festivals, exhibitions, residencies and more are valid reasons to receive a grant. Check out the Australia Council’s website for the full list. State governments such as NSW offer $500-5000 small project grants for smaller projects.

How to write a successful grant application.

Ok, so too easy then. Have an idea, apply for a grant and get the money. Simple right? Not quite. As you might imagine, with that kind of money up for grabs, Australian grants tend to be highly competitive and undergo a critical review process. To successfully apply for a grant, the application needs to be exceptional; follow the guidelines to the letter, be extremely well-written, and actually fit the criteria set out by the funding body. Below are some tips for making a successful application.

Research before applying. Know the grant details and the organization’s goals with the grant. Look at previous successful applications and even correspond beforehand with the organisation about your project or work. Don’t leave anything till the last minute! 

To be successful, you should write about your project in a way that can be understood. Limit jargon, and be direct and concise. Have someone else review your writing! If you or they don’t know what you are saying, the review board definitely won’t.

Have good support material. High-resolution photos and videos are a must. Also, ensure that provided support material fits the criteria set out by the provider. You may also need letters of support from other recognised artists or curators that you have worked with previously. 

Create a detailed budget and plan. Be realistic and meticulous. Find out the fees for every step, from renting vehicles to manufacturing costs. If you require a large expense, get a quote to justify the cost. You also want to include costs that you will fund/source yourself, called ‘in-kind’ costs, as the funding body won’t pay for the entire project. Critically, the budget must balance. Costs must balance with the funding asked for. 

While not the most straightforward or easy process, grant writing is essential for any artist or creative wanting to fund their projects. Applicants should be prepared to be rejected, learn from mistakes and try again. The persistence, time and effort are worth it to see a project come to life. 

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