Grant Application Tips

To better serve first-time and former grant applicants, we are providing Grant Application Tips in response to your questions and based on best practices. Please email the grant program manager your questions and and check back every Monday to see the latest tips.

We’ll be posting regular grant application tips over the coming weeks.

June 6, 2012

Because there are no formatting features (italics, underlines and bolds) use CAPITAL LETTERS to differentiate your headings.  Dashes can be used instead of bullets.

May 30, 2012

Budget Tip of the Week: Line items in the budget form of the application should focus on cost directly related to project and/or grant related activity. The Advisory Review Panel will get a sense of your organization’s overall budget through the required uploaded budget documents such as the IRS Form 990 or your DC Cultural Data Project report. As a result, be clear about the budgetary items that you include in the application form and let the other uploaded documents speak for themselves.

MAY 21, 2012

Before submitting your application, gather a panel of three to four of your colleagues not in your discipline and have them review your application.  What do they notice as artists and individuals not in your discipline? The commission seeks a diverse body of panelists to review applications so ensuring your language about your mission and your work is a great way to get responses on your application. It’s also a preview of how it might be viewed by panelists.

AUGUST 29, 2011

WORK SAMPLES

All applicants are required to submit artistic work samples, no more than two years old, for the evaluation of artistic content. If the applicant has conducted similar projects in the past two years, we recommend including samples of work that illustrate the core mission, theme or impact of both projects (for example, samples of artwork created by participants in a visual arts workshop). Advisory Review Panelists will spend 3-5 minutes reviewing work samples and we urge you to submit your very best work that represents the activities for which you are requesting funds.

All work samples will be digitally submitted through the Zoom Grants application. Individual files can be no more than 10 MB, though applicants may submit multiple 10 MB files.

Visual Arts and Crafts:
Individuals must submit digital images ten different works. Organizations must submit 20 digital images of different works.

Media (Film/Video/Radio):
Submit up to two audio/video recordings of completed work or work-in-progress.

Music:
Submit up to two audio/video recordings.

Dance:
Submit up to two video recordings of performances.

Literature: Includes poetry, fiction, creative writing, screenwriting, etc.
Fiction and creative nonfiction writers must submit 10-20 pages from no more than three short works, or a portion from no more than two larger works up to 20 pages, and they must be labeled fiction or nonfiction. If your work is an excerpt, include a one-page statement in the manuscript about where it fits into the whole to orient the reviewers.

Poets must submit 10-15 pages of poetry from no fewer than five and no more than 10 poems. Shorter poems should be printed one to a page.

Interdisciplinary:
Individuals and organizations must submit up to 10 digital images or up to two audio/video recordings demonstrating the integration of disciplines in the work.

Theater:
Organizations must submit up to four representational programs or playbills. Submit up to two video recordings of performances or 10 digital images of productions.

Actors must submit video recordings of two contrasting monologues or 10 still images of productions in digital format.

Sound designers must submit up to three audio recordings.
Directors must submit a copy of a 1-3 page concept statement of a recently directed play. Playwrights should see LITERATURE, above.

Multidisciplinary:
Provide the required work samples (as described above) for two (minimum) or three (maximum) of the artistic disciplines that are relevant to the grant request.

ORGANIZING WORK SAMPLES
All grant applications require work samples that best demonstrate the artistic merit of the application. The guidelines will assist in preparing work samples.

Image Identification List
Provide a numbered list of the images you are submitting. Arrange the list in the order that you would like the images to be viewed. Title the page with the words “Image Identification List” and the applicant’s name. For each image, include the artist’s name, artwork title, medium, size and the year the work was completed. Digital images must be numbered to correspond with the Image Identification List.

Digital File Format
All files should be labeled as follows, in the appropriate file extension (jpg, gif, pdf, etc.)

  • Applicant’sLastName.FirstName.Image#.ArtworkTitle.jpg
  • e.g. DaVinci.Leonardo.1.MonaLisa.jpg

AUGUST 22, 2011

BE CLEAR AND CONCISE – Stick to the point

  •   Identify the key elements of your grant request and align them with the grant program’s goals and priorities

(Don’t just write about why your project is so great; explain why it merits consideration under this particular program)

BE CLEAR AND CONCISE – Avoid vague, flowery language

  •   Sweeping and un-cited value statements do not speak to the artistic merit of your program or project

(You may not be the “only performing arts organization teaching dance to high school students in DC,” but there is something that makes you special – tell us!)

FOCUS ON THE DETAILS – Writing Approach

  •   Use the fifth grade essay writing approach:  Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.

(If details have not been confirmed, note potential dates/locations, etc., and describe efforts to secure them. Demonstrate to the panel that action is being taken)

FOCUS ON THE DETAILS – Cite specific data

  •   Back up your information with hard data. Use numbers to support the need of your grant request

(For example, cite the number of audience members for past projects. Find demographic information for residents in Neighborhood Info DC)

There is a difference between Supporting Materials and the Work Sample.

Supporting Materials are documents like newspaper profiles, postcards, brochures, etc., which reflect your outreach and presence in the arts community. They affect the Community Impact and Engagement score.

Work Samples should revolve entirely around the artistic content of the applicant and/or applicant’s project. They affect the Artistic Content score.

Keep It Relative and Relevant

Your work sample should be as closely related to the proposed project as possible.

  •   Submit photos/videos from projects from the past two years;

  •   Include the work of the artists already selected for the project, if possible;

  •   Submit work that reflects the grant request’s discipline

  •   For example, multidisciplinary organizations producing a dance festival should submit recordings of dance

Consider the Source

Tailor the work sample appropriately to the grant program to which you are applying

  •   Arts Education Program work samples should include both the teaching artists’ and the students’ work and, where feasible, show the artists interacting with students;

  •   Grants-In-Aid and UPSTART work samples should cover the range of the organization’s activities –   they should not be confined to a particular project

If You Build It, They Will Come

–        DO NOT use crowd shots as a Festivals and City Arts Projects work sample.

It shows only the popularity of the festival or project. The project is judged by its artistic content, so the work sample must reflect the arts involved in the event, not the popularity. Instead, try highlighting the artist(s) directly engaging the community.

An Oldie…Not a Goodie

–        DO NOT send outdated work samples. Work sample must be no more than two (2) years old. Otherwise, the application may be deemed ineligible.

Even if your specialty is a traditional art, update your work sample. This provides the review panel with a fresh and accurate view of your artistic content and skills.

And Now It’s Time for Dance

–       DO NOT submit stills from a dance performance.

You like to move…and we like to see it! Submit a video of your performance for a high impact Work Sample

Montages

–       DO NOT submit a video montage of dance performances set to a single piece of music.

To evaluate the artistic content of a dance application, panelists need to be able to get a sense of how the choreography relates to the music. The movement and music must be in sync for their understanding!


AUGUST 8, 2011

1)      Tailor your narrative so that it relates to the grant request.  Many of the questions are similar for the different programs.  Make sure that you are specifically citing information about the arts activities related to your grant request, and not the organization as a whole.

2)      No need to refer to additional information in another DCCAH application. Panelists are different for each program.  We do not suggest that you refer or cite information that is in any other DCCAH application.  Panelists are selected for their specific expertise in a particular grant program.  They will not have access to your different applications for reference.

3)      Interdisciplinary versus Multidisciplinary. These words are not synonyms. Interdisciplinary refers to integrating two fields into one discipline. Multidisciplinary refers to presenting a mixture of disciplines in which each discipline retains its core methodologies.  Make sure to include the correct information in the classification data sheet!

4)      Don’t delay – start today!  Even after you have submitted your application, you may edit your proposal and continue to upload documents.  Don’t get stuck the day of the deadline with an overloaded online system – start uploading documents and narrative today!


AUGUST 3, 2011:

QUESTION:
This year’s Individual Artist Grant application asks questions about evaluation of the project, target audiences, communities affect etc. I thought only organization and “institutions” had to supply this information. Since this is for general support, should I just answer to the best of my ability?

ANSWER:
A common misconception regarding the Individual Artist Grant (IAG) is that this is a new version of the Artist Fellowship Program, which in the past granted $5,000 to artists to use in ANY way they wanted. This new Individual Artist Grant is NOT for general support and the Artist Fellowship Program no longer exists in any form.

IAG is a project-based grant where artist must propose a project for which the grant funds will be used. All grant funds must go to the implementation of the project. The “institutional” questions are actually questions about the target audience of your project (for example) or the community impact and engagement that your project contains.

A project has a beginning, middle and an end with clear outcomes. The more detailed your project description, goals, audience, timeline, budget and narrative, the better.


AUGUST 1, 2011:

1)      Speak the language of DCCAH when writing a grant for the DCCAH. Use the language that is in the question to respond appropriately and consistently. The Guide to Grants, grant guidelines and criteria are rich sources of information and vocabulary that will add focus and polish to any application

2)      When starting work on a proposal, go to the Print/Preview page and copy/paste all of the questions into a Word document. Answer the questions there, then copy/paste each one back into ZoomGrants. This will let you work offline and it gives you a backup of your answers. Once you are done with your application, go back to the Print/Preview and save a PDF of the entire proposal for posterity.

3)      Submit earlier than 11:59 to avoid a potential glut of applications at the last minute.  Take into consideration technology constraints and build time into your writing process to accommodate the unexpected. Zoom Grants will not accept any applications beyond the deadline date and time. Keep in mind that you can still modify your application after you have submitted it AS LONG AS IT IS BEFORE THE DEADLINE. DCCAH staff will not begin reviewing applications until after the deadline.

4)      Ensure you are applying for the correct grant inside Zoom Grants. There are 8 grants to choose from and, although they contain some similar questions, the questions and requirements are different.

5)      Treat your application as a cohesive whole. Use narratives about your artistic content to clarify your work sample. Similarly, take your target audience and expand on their needs, wants, and challenges questions related to the community engagement and impact. Also, refer to the grant program criteria (located in the program guidelines) to provide a greater context to your grant writing.

6)      If the project is site specific then the application should demonstrate that securing a venue is in the works. So, if there is no venue secured yet, the application should explain which venues are being considered. Letters from venues that acknowledge that a conversation has taken place regarding the project are very helpful.

7)      Live auditions have been eliminated for Individual Artists Grant. Applicants must upload a work sample of their work in order to be eligible.

8)      There is a difference between Supporting Materials and the Work Sample. Supporting Materials are documents like newspaper profiles, postcards, brochures, etc., which reflect your outreach and presence in the arts community. They affect the Community Impact and Engagement score. Work Samples should revolve entirely around the artistic content of the applicant and/or applicant’s project. They affect the Artistic Content score.

9)      Your work sample should be as closely related to the proposed project as possible. Submit photos/videos from projects from the past two years; include the work of the artists already selected for the project, if possible; submit work that reflects the grant request’s discipline; for example, multidisciplinary organizations producing advance festival should submit recordings of dance.

10)      DO NOT use crowd shots as a Festivals and City Arts Projects work sample. It shows only the popularity of the festival or project. The project is judged by its artistic content, so the work sample must reflect the arts involved in the event, not the popularity. Instead, try highlighting the artist(s) directly engaging the community.

12 Responses to Grant Application Tips

  1. greetings

    is there a way to define my arts example I work with wood and objects to create my art.

    • Vikki Russell says:

      Dear Jackie–

      You might find that it falls into the definition of “assemblage”.
      Hope that helps.

      Vikki Russell

  2. Sara says:

    I would like to apply with a video project I have designed in detail, entitled “Shame.” I am concerned because though it is representative of my current endeavors, the project has just commenced and I may not have enough work samples yet that I am proud of. What should I do? Please advise; thank you!

  3. Holly Bass says:

    I have a tip for those submitting video. ZoomGrants only allows you to upload 10MB at a time. You can easily condense most short videos to this size using Windows Movie Maker. Drag the vid into the program and place it on the storyboard section (bottom of the frame). Go to File, then Save Movie File. It will say “save to my computer”. Hit Next. Enter the file name and where you would like it saved. Hit Next again. You will see an option called “Best Fit to File Size” and you can choose to save it as 10MB. Voila!

  4. karin schierhold says:

    hi DCCAH! is there a master list of specific required documents and supporting materials published anywhere? are resumes required? i dont want to forget anything! thanks…

    • Art(202) says:

      Hi Karen,

      In the Upload Documents section, it will show you the complete list of everything you need to submit. (i.e. W9, work samples, etc.) As long as you have all those items uploaded and submitted that pertain to your grant, you are good to go.

  5. Ximena says:

    Hello,

    I am trying to upload my documents to the proposal but I can not. When I click upload it takes me to a page that does not give me the option. I had been in this page before, when reviewing the proposal and it had the option for uploading. Know the page seems incomplete. I don’t know what to do. Please advise me.

    Ximena

  6. David Lee says:

    I have been a serious film/video maker since the 1970s, but I have never applied for a grant. I have seen the Commission’s Classification page and have recorded what I suspect are my relevant 4 categories; also I have read the general requirements. Could someone give me a minute or two to know what to do next? Thanks for your reply.

  7. I am a self taught artist. I currently show in small art shows and have work at a local art gallery. Is there grant surport for self taught artist? My work sells and is well received but funds are limited. Thank you for you time.

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