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The art of formally asking for money

FASA hosts a workshop on the art of grant proposal writing

Many students will have to write a grant proposal at some point during their careers. Since a grant proposal is essentially a money request, writing one must be done with care.

On Feb. 1, the Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) held a grant writing workshop aimed at arts students, but it was relevant and open to students from all faculties.

The workshop focused on tips for writing the perfect grant application for various projects.

Guest speaker and regular grant writer Amber Berson said grant writing is basically an application process where you ask for money for your work. The PhD student said the first and most important thing to focus on is mastering writing skills.

Photo by Danielle Gasher

Photo by Danielle Gasher

“Grant writing is an important skill, and it is a wonderful way to fund your art practice. But being a successful grant writer does not make you a successful artist,” she said. Berson said the skill is also useful when writing an artist statement, or, a description of the project, in a cover letter for a job, residency or an open call for submissions to galleries.

Berson said it’s important not to feel discouraged when applying for grants. “Even if you keep applying and you do not get positive results, it should not and does not take away your value as an artist,” she said.

Berson advised students to be clear and precise in their proposals—introduce yourself, and explain what your project is, what you need the money for and why would you or an organization needs to fund this project—why the project is worthwhile.

“You should never try to apply for all of the grants just because you need the money. That is very transparent to the grant agent. In certain cases, it even hurts your eligibility for grants in the future,” said Berson. She said students should contact the FASA agent or another grant agent if they have doubts or questions about the process.

As with any application, deadlines are very important with grant writing. “If you absolutely cannot meet a deadline, contact your agent immediately,” Berson said.

She stressed it’s also crucial to follow the instructions and meet the word limit or minute count for video submissions. While it seems obvious, she said, it isn’t always executed.

Asking for money must be handled with delicacy. Being realistic in terms of budget is an important thing to keep in mind.

“When you apply for a grant, you are applying for a not-for-profit project, which means you should not be making money off the project. Asking and getting [money] are completely different, and you should always ask for what you or your project are worth, and it should be realistic.”

For any student interested in applying for a grant to fund a project, Berson highly recommends visiting the Canadian Artists Representation (CARFAC) website, www.carfac.ca.  This website is a useful tool for helping students with grants and planning their budget. For students interested in finding out about arts funding, the Regroupement des Centre d’Artistes Autogérés du Québec (RCAAQ) (www.rcaaq.org) and Artère (www.artere.qc.ca) are also great resources that have helped many artists get grants for their art.

For more information or to apply for grants, visit their website.

About Mina Mazumder