Sunday 15 May 2016

Art grants...

'Spaceman' 2016

Even though I'm a practising artist I don't earn a living from my artwork. And although I've received a few bursaries to cover the costs of specific projects including equipment and materials I've never applied for grant support for research, fees or subsistence. 

One grant source for individual artists is from an arts council, my local one being the Arts Council of NI (ACNI) who at the time of this blogpost currently offer a Travel Award. They also have a list of previous fundings now closed, some of which might well re-open or they may add new grants in the coming year. There is also Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and Arts Council of Wales within the UK with a range of funding for individual artists, established and new. The Arts Council of IrelandAn Chomhairle Ealaíon, has a list of what's available for 2016. Each council has a variety of arts funding to offer within their website and it's worth checking them every so often for updates.

'Sisterly Love' wall hanging 2008

If your work crosses between Fine Craft and FIne Art there may be opportunities for funding from the craft councils: CraftNI, Crafts Council England, Craft Scotland, (the Welsh Craft Council website is currently under review) and Design and Crafts Council Ireland.

Ancestral Threads workbook - 'School Photo' 2010

Another source is from a smaller, more specific Arts organisation such as Arts & Disability Forum (NI) whose iDA grant offers up to £5000 to disabled or deaf artists. 

But due to cuts made to the Arts as a whole, and causing the demise of other arts organisations, funding from many sources has dwindled. Securing funding as an individual artist is anything but easy as the reduction in overall arts funding from government level has made the competition high. 

In 2008 I applied for and was successful in securing an Arts & Disability bursary. I put in a good application and there was plenty of funding available at that time. If I were to apply for the new iDA grant I would have to work very hard to secure the same level of grant I received eight years ago. It's proving a very difficult time for many artists.

I asked SInead O'Donnell, local and international performance artist, what she thought of grants, applying for them and what advice she'd give to anyone making an application. She agreed that arts grants were harder to come by nowadays than 5 years ago plus compared to the rest of the UK the Arts were much more poorly invested in within Northern Ireland - 'ACNI offer up to £2000 per year to an individual whereas over five years ago it was £5000',  and felt that societal lack of access support because of disability was the biggest bugbear.

'Meet or attend grant bearer sessions on how to apply. Get used to failure as applying for grants is a lottery. If you don't get funding then figure out ways to continue making your work so you don't get disheartened. Keep your creative self alive, find an artist community that supports your art practice eg performance, visual art, music, dance. Go to see as many art exhibitions as you can to see how other artists are working. Don't be afraid to ask questions, get feedback and reapply. Artists put a lot of time into applications and sometimes it really does eat into creative studio time. So ask for feedback on rejected Grant applications and use that advice to make an improved application the next time. And try to work in paid art related jobs - it's more rewarding and less isolating.'

I'd be interested to do a blogpost on the Arts within NI, the lack of funding at government level and the difficulties of applying for grants especially with the arts & disability sector. Something to work on for next month.

(This blogpost is not a finite list of grant sources available but a selection of what I've found.)

bloowabbit fb page
Sinead O'Donnell website

Tomorrow's blogpost: 'My planners'

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