Artist Grant Applications: 9 Essential Tips

Funding and grants provide integral support for both emerging and professional artists. Due to their importance and the competition for funding, it’s important to put your best foot forward when submitting your application. Below are some essential tips to keep in mind when preparing your application for an artist grant.

Pay close attention to the instructions and scoring system

Though your actual artwork is key in the success of your grant application, studying the guidelines is also integral. Most grants are at some point adjudicated with a scoring system. This means that committee members will be checking to see how well your application fits into their specific criteria. If the grant you are applying for lists their judging criteria, pay close attention. For example, the criteria may be listed like this:

Quality of artwork 60%
Community impact: 20%
Feasibility of project 20%

Imagine you are writing a statement to apply for the grant with the above hypothetical scoring system. It would not be enough to include an artist’s statement about your work and practice. If your statement doesn’t thoroughly cover why your project is feasible (eg: you’ve successfully completed something similar before, you already have lined up professional assistance), or what the community impact would be (the project will be accessible to people who often don’t visit galleries, or it will shed light on a community issue)–then you would essentially be skipping 40% of the grant requirements. Obviously, you have a much better chance at a higher score (and a grant!) if you carefully review and then address each requirement of the application. 

Don’t submit more materials than you need to

Though it might be tempting to send more materials than the grant requires, don’t do it. The grant committee members will already have a lot of material to go through, so including extra images or documents beyond their requirements may be annoying. In a worst case scenario, it could get your application disqualified. On the flip side, when you demonstrate that you can follow the requirements properly, it speaks to your professionalism. 

Make sure you have great images of your artwork

Make sure your artist’s CV is up to date and professionally formatted

Resize and rename your image files 

Many grant applications will provide guidelines for renaming images, so pay close attention. If they don’t, it’s best to rename your images so that they are easily identifiable. This can include your name, the artwork title, and artwork date. It can also include other information that might be relevant (such as numbers so they stay in order), but don’t make the file names too long. Here’s an example of how you can rename your image files: 


Apply for the right artist grant

It would probably be a waste of your time to apply for each and every grant available. Instead, you can research more about each grant and its requirements to figure out which would best be suited to you. When researching this, some things you can consider: 

  • Who are the past recipients? Is their artistic professional history similar to yours? (If most recipients of a grant have had major shows at big museums and you’re just starting out, that is a sign the grant is not a good fit).
  • Do the grant requirements fit your practice? Is it easy to see your work fitting in with the ethos and structure of the grant? For example, if you are a performance artist and the grant is for painters, don’t try to reframe your work to fit certain parameters. Instead seek out a more suitable grant for performance artists.  

Keep in mind that each artist grant is different

It is a lot of work to put together a grant application. From images, statements, your CV, and extra materials, it’s not a simple task. Because of this, it may be tempting to use the same grant application over and over again for different grants. But you’ll have better success if you’re mindful of each unique grant, their different requirements, and their individual scoring systems. Of course you can use your existing application of a starting point. But make sure you tailor each application to each grant you’re applying for. It’s extra work, but in the long run it’s much more likely that your hard work will pay off. 

Get a solid idea of your budget. If applicable, state directly how the artist grant will help you

Many artist grant applications will require you to include a budget for your project. Of course, funding bodies would like to see that you have a solid plan in place for effectively spending their money. Because of this, one of the first things you should do in preparing your grant is to get a solid budget in place. If a grant doesn’t provide a specific template for this, here are some possibilities on what might be included in your budget for a project:

  • Art studio rental
  • Materials
  • Photography or equipment rentals
  • Professional documentation
  • Travel
  • Artwork shipping

When you include a budget with your application, it’s clear to the committee what the grant would be used for. This lends credibility to your application, and builds trust.

Don’t be shy about asking questions

For just about every artist grant, there is contact information provided for questions or inquiries. By all means, use this as a resource if you are looking for further clarification on any of the requirements. By asking about any details you’re unsure of, you have a better chance of meeting their requirements. Just be sure that you have carefully read through the application criteria first. This way, you avoid asking redundant questions. 

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