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In preparing your application for a funding opportunity such as a grant, residency, cash award, etc., consider the following tips:
1. Pay attention to deadlines. The last thing you want to do is miss an opportunity by missing a submission deadline.
2. Pay attention to instructions. Proposal readers who see that you have been unable to follow the instructions for making an application for a grant, residency, et al., may be inclined to believe that you will have difficulties when adhering to requirements related to the opportunity.
3. Be certain to ask questions that you may have or read any FAQ pages that you might find related to the opportunity (well before the proposal deadline, if possible). For example, if you must be 25 to receive a grant, and you are 24 when submitting your proposal but you'll be 25 when the award is granted, be certain that an application submitted by a 24-year-old will be considered.
4. Create the best possible images of your work in the highest quality you can manage. Many applications will require images either in digital or slide form. Creating good quality images will give you more options when changing the size or dimensions of the images to meet the requirements for specifical proposal procedures.
5. When possible, ask fellow artists for their tips on completing successful applications for funding. Certain strategies and pitfalls only appear to us due to experience, so benefit from the experiences of your peers.
For additional suggestions, see the resources listed to the left.
Many proposal procedures for grants, residencies, and awards will require you to write a narrative or proposal to accompany your application and any related images of your work. Here a few tips for writing successful narratives/proposals:
1. Consider your audience. You should not assume that jargon or language that is specific to your work will be familiar to the reader. Write a narrative or project description for an inclusive audience.
2. If possible, look at the applications of former grant recipients, and don't just depend on one recipient's application. It may help as you draft your narrative/proposal, to see the work of others who have successfully completed an application.
3. Pay attention to word limits. Your reader will want to see that you have a substantial description, but exceeding word limits will usually result in an automatic rejection of the proposal.
4. Find willing proof-readers. We all make tiny errors as we're writing and everyone can benefit from a second pair of eyes. If possible, choose a proof-reader who is unfamiliar with your work and ask them if they understand your narrative or proposal based on your written description.
I encourage you to make writing about your art a habit. Even if you do not intend to compete for a grant, residency, or an award, learning about ways of presenting your ideas and your visual work in a written form will help you in the future, as you compete for these resources and as you talk about your work with others. In addition, re-presenting your work in words may allow you--yourself--to see the work in a new way.