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How Do Independent Artists Apply For Grants?

Artists can help a culture hold up a mirror and see itself. You are crucial to your community’s well being! But sales don’t always cover the bills. So where do you turn?

Grants can be an amazing way to shore up gaps in your resources and enable innovation and calculated risks!

But where do you start? And who is welcome to the table?

Keep reading for our guide to grants tailor-made for independent Canadian artists!

1. Find blogs and lists of grants for artists.

If you know organizations that grant funds for artists, great! Look through what they offer.

If you don’t know any organizations that provide that support, search for blogs and lists that have gathered the information for you. Try some of these search terms:

  • “Grants + musician + Canada”

  • “Grants + Independent artist + [your province]”

  • “Funding + writer + deadlines”

  • “Funding + painter + submission guidelines”

The results your search returns will likely include fund-granting bodies themselves, but don’t miss the blogs that point the way to more. They may also offer some insights on the focus or peculiarities of each grant or organization.

Check out our own list of Top Seven Grants for Independent Artists.

2. Check your eligibility before putting in a lot of work.

Your time is valuable! If the grant covers the type of project you’d like to do, next skip down to the eligibility requirements.

All grants will outline who they are inviting to apply. Is it emerging artists? Established professionals? Visible minorities? Artists partnered with a community organization?

They may also have criteria that define a give descriptor (eg. they may define a professional musician as someone who has received compensation for their work on par with peers in their field, etc.). Think about what kind of documentation you might have available to demonstrate that you meet the criteria.

If you had any doubts (and even if you don’t!), you can also pick up the phone and ask the program coordinator.

3. Contact the grant program coordinator.

These people are an invaluable resource. They want to help get the money they represent into your hands. And they are NOT the people who sit on the panels to make decisions, so speaking to them is not overreaching! They are there to support you, inform you, and do what they can to get high-quality applications in front of panels.

Tell the program coordinator about your idea. They can help identify whether this or another grant is the best fit for you. They can also tell you which aspects of your idea are the best fit and worth pumping up in your application.

Let them be a mirror. You never know what you may see when you hold up your idea for them to reflect back.

4. Have a CLEAR idea.

Artistic pursuits usually sprawl. The discovery and exploration of the process is nearly boundless!

But criteria and forms have bounds.

So find the salient core of your idea and be incredibly clear about it:

  • “I will paint a series of five portraits showing the same subject in various states of health.”

  • “I will offer a series of four pottery workshops for youth in my community.”

  • “I will spend six months researching the history and stories of Alcoholics Anonymous in my city to inform the novel I am writing.”

  • “I will mount a production of TITLE, a two-act play written by me.”

The more readily you can concisely define your aim, the more confidence your panel will have that they understand your idea. They will similarly have more confidence that you know what you’re aiming for and have the ability to achieve it.

Do you fear that the simplicity of this clarity will limit you? Fear not. If you are fortuna