IF you are a choreographer in the Bay Area you most likely know that the deadline to apply for Theatre Bay Area’s CA$H Grant for dance is approaching – it must be postmarked on May 9. You also probably know JUST HOW HARD it is to get this grant!
In October 2010 I served as a CA$H Grant panelist, and I want to use this experience to help all of you applicants frantically compiling proposals. (If you are calmly compiling – kudos to you.)
First, I want to say how extremely valuable it was to serve as a panelist – I can not stress enough that this experience is the #1 tip I can give you on how to become a contender for CA$H Grant funding.
To become a panelist: http://www.theatrebayarea.org/programs/cashpanel.jsp
As a panel, we first sat down and decided on the criteria that we, as a group, would use to select the artist and organizations that we wanted to fund. Ultimately, we decided to simply use the priority criteria listed right on the 2nd page of the CA$H Grant application:
Priority will go to work that:
• has an impact on the artist, the organization, the community or the field
• is innovative and take creative risks with the potential of excellence
• will result in some kind of tangible creative activity
#2 Your application should discuss the above bullet points. The “tangible creative activity” is less important as your project is most likely a dance performance and fulfills this requirement. It is more important to focus on how your work as an artist has an impact. You aren’t going to write about how this specific project will impact the artist, the organization, the community or field all at the same time (if you can, I want to see that work – let me know when your show is!). I hope that your work is at the least impacting you – tell the panel about it!
#2 continued Put this work into context in comparison to previous work. How will this work be innovative or a risk for you (bullet point 2)? How will it affect your future work? How is it different or similar to past work? What will the prestige of winning CA$H Grant do for your career?
#3 Find a way to differentiate your application. Everyone talks about how the arts are underfunded and that dancers deserve to paid, studio space is expensive, blah blah. The panel knows this – they are your peers. Tell the panel more about your work, what it will look like and how this work is going to affect you or the community.
#4 Remember that this is one of the hardest grants to get in the Bay Area. I read 100 applications as a panelist. There were $228,000 worth of requests for funding and only $22,000 to give out, therefore, artists rarely receive this grant on the first application or even their second…or 15th.
#5 Speak from your heart and don’t hide your excitement. Emotion was present in every project we funded. When I read the applications of the artists that received funding, I felt as if they were presenting the proposal in person and not in writing.
Trying to get the CA$H Grant can be frustrating, but every time you apply and write a proposal you are one step closer to getting funding. If you don’t apply, you definitely won’t receive funding.