Grant acquittals are a time of reflection and sometimes wonderment as to what has actually been accomplished over the allocated period. For me, the twelve months of ArtStart has been quite challenging in terms of time management but an infinitely rewarding experience. The Australia Council love statistics so here are a few from the last year - 3 SOLO exhibitions in the Cairns region, 7 GROUP exhibitions in the Cairns region, 5 GROUP exhibitions in the Brisbane region, 1 GROUP exhibition in the Melbourne region, 1 GROUP touring exhibition to locations within Australia and New Zealand, 1 residency interstate, I mentorship with West End Studio, Brisbane.
Part of the acquittal process was asking for advise to future potential ArtStart applicants. I found this question incredibly poignant and sad, as there are no longer such opportunities offered to emerging artists due to the current cutbacks. It also makes me realise how fortunate I have been to be able to undertake all of my ArtStart activities and how pivotal this whole experience has been to the longevity of my arts practice.
Perhaps the advise might be of help to other forms of grant writing? In anticipation of that, I have included four of the most important points below..
1. Try again and again. Don’t take it personally if you are not successful in the first instance, it is not a reflection on the quality or significance of your arts practice. Each time you are unsuccessful, gain feedback, refine your application and try again. Be tenacious! I was successful in my 5th application for an ArtStart grant. The process itself will help to clarify your career options, regardless of the outcome.
2. Be clear about your goals. Think about how many applications the assessing panel has to read and make sure every word of yours counts for something. Link your goals and your activities so that there is a defined line between where you are now and where you want to be. If you are unsuccessful, make sure you move forward with your own goals without an ArtStart grant. When I was unsuccessful the first time, I built my own website anyway; the second time, I exhibited my work in a metropolitan gallery anyway; the third time, I went to New York to study anyway. etc
3. Have a ‘non-artist’ read your application. Look at your current contacts for people that don’t know your art practice very well but have business or life experience and ask them to give you feedback on your application. This means completing the application early to allow time for others to read it and give you their response. The last time, I had a banking project manager, a university lecturer and a psychiatric nurse read mine. I listened to their feedback, then I refined, refined, refined.
4. Make your ArtStart goals count. ArtStart should be an amazing assistance to your chosen arts career, so make sure that you ask for things that will be of the most benefit to your longevity as an artist. Also make sure that the tasks are able to be accomplished within the 12 months time period. I found that I struggled at times to carry out some of the activities as well as accomplish my 'normal' life responsibilities, so make sure you have the time available to make the best of the opportunity.