The Grant Writing Process

I recently applied for a grant from the Edmonton Arts Council. This is the first time I’ve ever applied for a grant, and it feels kind of odd. There’s a little bit of anxiety around it… And a lot of hope! The grant was so that I could do a project expanding on my metal ties and get several of these completed.

Metal ties? Yup! There aren’t a lot of artists who make metal ties, of course. In fact, I’ve seen a few crafts people do some very simple, rather plain ones. And I’ve seen one artist do some really cool, very complex ones. And each artist has a different way of approaching this. I hope that mine is unique enough to warrant the grant. I would truly love to make these ties. The proposal was for 20 ties. And that’s a lot! It’s essentially four month’s of full time work to complete these. Can I do it? Of course! But only if I get the grant.

Armour Tie, inspired by Wisby coat of plates, by Johanus Haidner © 2011. Custom metal ties, custom armour, metal couture, original art

Armour Tie, inspired by Wisby coat of plates, by Johanus Haidner © 2011

For me the hardest part was the written portion of the grant, where I have to explain the project and outline the reasons for doing it, what the benefits are to the community (and me), and what opportunities I believe the grant will offer. It’s kind of cool to think about my artwork that way. Usually I just think about whether it looks good or not. Or if it will sell. Well… there are a few that I’ve thought about the message more than anything else. That’s part of what artwork is all about. But the impact on the community and myself? That’s certainly something different.

Being an artist does often mean applying for grants or submitting proposals, such as in a juried competition or to a client who wants some display art. As an artist, this is always difficult. I think in terms of how the art will visually present, not it’s community impact or its marketability (usually). And I think that perhaps this is something that I should think about more in my work.

Or perhaps not.

I have so many ideas regarding the artwork I want to create. The big problem with being an artist is that for us it’s often backwards on the business model. We create something with meaning, something unique and inspiring. Something that comments about the world. We do it without regard for whether it is marketable or not. And then get frustrated when no-one else is interested in the work. It’s like firing the cannon without aiming anywhere in particular, then being surprised that we missed our target. Yet from this we learn to create better work. And eventually, if one is really good, the work does get noticed.

And that’s what grants are created for – to help the artist understand the creative process, and to know what works are good. Even the grant process requires, first and foremost, that the art be good.

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