6 tips for funding your youth arts project
Starting your own arts project as a young person can be really intimidating. The idea of securing funds to start your project can be even more so, especially if you’ve never done it before.
When I was applying for my own grant through the Drug Aware YCulture Regional program, I didn’t know where to start. I found out quickly that little things like just having someone to guide you through the process makes everything a whole lot easier.
For my project, I wanted to bring up a team of skilled comedians from The Comedy Emporium in Geraldton to work with a group of youth in Kalbarri, developing a skit based around our town’s nautical history to perform at the local Zest Festival.
In the end, my project was a great success, and now I’m a panelist for the Drug Aware YCulture Regional program, and I get to assess other young people’s applications! It’s always so inspiring to see these ideas evolve into fantastic projects and events.
For the most part, applications are great, but I find I’m still able to pick up on certain things which might have come about because the applicant wasn’t exactly sure of what to do or say – much the same to what I struggled with when I was applying for my grant.
These are a few things I wish I knew when I was applying for funding for the first time.
1. Know your project
It’s important that you have a clear view of what you want to create before applying for funding. In applying, you’re going to be asked to describe your project, in which you need to be clear about what you are creating. Assessors are looking for what, when, where, for whom and why you’re doing this. The best way to make sure you’re not going to miss anything here is to pull your idea apart beforehand. Write it down, draw diagrams; anything that works for you so that you fill in the gaps in your planning. Find someone to talk to about your project, get them to quiz you and see what they think. You’re usually also going to need to provide letters of support from outside organisations, which means you’re going to have to convince them to back you on your project. The best way to do this is to have a clear explanation of what you’re doing, and how it will benefit them, the community, and you.
When I was applying for my funding, I was so excited about my project that I ended up telling everyone I knew (sometimes twice). People asked me all sorts of questions and I had to be prepared to answer them. In the end I developed a clear explanation of my project since I had told so many people about it, which made it so much easier when it came to writing my application.
2. Talk to people
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to let people know about your project. If it’s a good idea, people will start talking about it among themselves. Some of them may even volunteer to be involved. Conversations are also one of the best ways to network. People you talk to will often know someone who might be able to help you in your project, and they’ll be able to get you in contact with them later on. Many of my closest contacts in the arts industry I’ve met by simply talking to people. It can be really daunting and awkward at first, but once you establish those first few connections, you’ll find your network keeps growing and growing.
3. Do your research
Are you planning on bringing artists from another town into your local community? Are you putting on a showcase? What kind of equipment will you need? Most of these questions you will have already answered in planning your project, but where do you go from there? Do some research, and most importantly – talk to people. Email your preferred artists, tell them about your project, ask if they’re interested and for a rough artist’s fee. Do they have their own tech team? Will your shire support you? Can you get a venue for free? You’ll need at least a rough idea of how much your project will cost before you can consider funding, as all of this information will need to be included in your budget.
Once I organised a team of people who were interested in taking part in the project, we all got together and Skyped the artist. We asked a heap of questions and so did the artist. By the end of the call, everyone was motivated and we had a much better of where our project was going.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Writing your funding application can be a daunting process, especially if you’ve never done it before. Having someone who understands what you’re trying to do and who’s willing to help you out is the easiest way to overcome the biggest obstacles in your way. They’ll be able to help you pick the right words and push you in the right direction when you’re not sure where to turn, especially with things like writing a budget. I certainly didn’t write my first funding application on my own – I had the support of a wonderful woman helping me whenever I got stuck. In fact, you can also give the project manager of the funding round a call – they’re often your best resource and they’ll help you iron out the kinks in your application.
5. Take your time
Funding applications generally need to be in at least a couple months before the start of your project. If it’s going to take 10 weeks of planning before your project starts, submit your funding application a few weeks before you begin. This way, you can ensure that you’ve got a bit of leeway for any hiccups that might occur in the lead up to your project.
I planned ten weeks of workshops before our final showcase at Zest Fest. In most cases, the first workshop counts as the beginning of your project, so I had to have my application in a couple months before that. In those few months, there was still a lot of prep work to do. It sounds like a lot of time, but it goes super-fast once you’re in it.
6. Take photos, keep records, seek feedback and have fun
If your funding is approved, congratulations – your project is about to become a reality! Make sure you capture photos at the event and get some comments from your audience. Your funding body is going to ask you to write an acquittal on your project and they’ll ask for evidence about how the community received responded to your project. Plus, I can just guarantee that you’ll relish having those photos to look back on!
Once you’ve written one grant application, the next is so much easier. It’s a good idea to keep those points in mind next time you do; know your project, talk to people, ask for help if you need it, give yourself plenty of time, and take some photos. For now though, you’ve just put on your own community event, which means you’re more than entitled to enjoy yourself while all the actions happening. Plus, it’ll make writing the acquittal so much easier!