Songs for the Struggling Artist

Full Support
April 1, 2011, 11:59 pm
Filed under: art, business, theatre, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I was at a grant orientation meeting a while ago (they make you go to a meeting just to apply!) and listened as the well-meaning program associate read the grant application and guidelines to us. There was nothing extraordinary about it – pretty standard grant application stuff – but I was struck by her reiteration that this organization “Does not fund whole projects.” They want to give you a portion of what you need and want evidence that you’re gathering the rest of it elsewhere. This is identical to almost every grant in the city (and probably the country.) No one wants to fund your entire project. They only want to help you a little bit.
This struck me as absurd all of sudden. Every granting organization wants to know they’re not the only one and they’re all afraid to support something or someone completely.
This means that an artist with a project to make must spend the bulk of his or her time writing multiple grants and soliciting more and more funds for one single project. This means that an artist is never fully supported.
In my company’s nine year history, we’ve received multiple grants in a year maybe once or twice. Otherwise, we struggled forward with a quarter of the funds we needed. We got a grant for $500 a couple of years ago. This wasn’t even enough to help us begin our project – yet we had to do it, without any support, because we had $500 to spend or lose our standing with the granting organization.
I understand, to a degree, why funding bodies want company when they fund something. They want to know the artists are serious, that they really will do the project and make good use of those foundation dollars. I get it. It’s a safety measure.
But I think its cowardly. If you want to support artists, support them. Give them what they need. It’s like, a hungry person comes to your door and you say, “I’m not going to give you a meal – but I will give you this plate and if you can find a fork and a potato from my neighbors, you’ll have a meal!”


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