On Friday, September 25, the Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation welcomed guests from Calgary Arts Development and the Rozsa Foundation to an online workshop about accessing and applying for grants dedicated to the arts. With an eager audience on hand, ICAI was thrilled to host the workshop for local artists as the Covid-19 pandemic had previously forced the event to be rescheduled from its original date in March.
Taylor Poitras, the Grant Specialist for Individuals and Collectives at Calgary Arts Development started the workshop by providing the audience with valuable insight regarding the steps, artists should take when applying for grants. According to Poitras, it is important for artists who are interested in applying for a grant to first understand how organizations such as Calgary Arts Development can serve their needs. As a steward for the public good, Poitras said that Calgary Arts Development is able to help artists interested in applying for grants by providing them with various accommodations. These accommodations can include helping interested artists access the Calgary Arts Development website, translation services, as well as grant assistance.
Once an applicant has become familiar with Calgary Arts Development and understands the guidelines and eligibility requirements for grant programs, Poitras said that it is essential for artists to consider their own artistic practice. Specifically, artists need to understand where they are in regard to their careers and ask themselves what they want to do moving forward. Once an artist has taken time to consider these questions, they can then begin to consider applying for a grant. Poitras said that all grant applications made through Calgary Arts Development will include an artist statement and a current resume or CV. The artist statement, which is about 300 words in length, provides context about who the artist is as a person. Typically, this statement provides an overview of the artist’s practice and serves as an introduction to themselves, their work and their artistic processes. Artists can also discuss why their work is important to them and what they value the most about the process of creating art. The accompanying resume or CV should list relevant experiences to the artistic practice, any education, training or skills that the artist has acquired and the dates or locations of any exhibits or performances.
Poitras said that regardless of whether the applicant is an artist or musician, there is no right or wrong way to write a resume. “Always include your most recent stuff at the top of the resume, don’t mix in non-arts and stay focused on the related arts in the grant application,” said Poitras. “Support your story in the grant application to give yourself context. Like planning and marketing an album, provide a list of songs, lyrics and drafts of songs, as this will help to build an overall case and narrative. Every part of the application should support who you are and why you are applying.”
Poitras provided the following tips for any artist who is considering applying for a grant. First, the application doesn’t need to be complicated or include jargon or technical language. Poitras said that, Calgary Arts Development focuses more on the clarity of the application. Second, the grant application is intended to help assessors get a better idea about who the artist is as an individual. As a result, artists need to be authentic about their experiences and tell a story about their practice. The goal of the application is to paint a full, complete picture about who you are as an artist, the challenges you have faced and overcome during your practice and describe the work you create.
Finally, Poitras recommended that grant applicants research the grant programs that they wish to apply for, provide support in the application to back up what they are saying and always have your application peer edited. After the discussion regarding how artists can apply for grants, the workshop then welcomed Simon Mallett, the Executive Director of the Rozsa Foundation, and Geraldine Ysselstein, the Arts Leadership Director of the Rozsa Foundation, to discuss the granting streams and Arts Leadership Programs offered through the organization.
According to Mallett, the Rozsa Foundation is at the intersection of business and the arts as the granting streams provided through the foundation are used to support organizations rather than individual artists. These streams allow Alberta based arts charities and organizations to undertake initiatives that support planning, leadership and organizational experimentation.
These grants include Experimentation grants, which are designed to allow arts organizations to test theories about challenges they face; Aspiration Grants, which are designed to allow arts organizations to look toward a vision for the future; Transformation Grants, which build off of Experimentation grants and allow arts organizations to expand on ideas and further develop and shift programming; and Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) Arts Leaders Residency Grants, which helps to create leadership roles in arts organization and develop a greater level of diversity within arts organizations in Calgary and across Canada.
According to Mallett, the issue of diversity in the arts is extremely important to the Rozsa Foundation. “Diversity in Calgary’s arts community is important, to tell interesting stories in interesting ways, from different voices. You all have voices that we want to be heard from and supported within the artistic community. If you have an artistic avenue that you want to pursue, we want to hear your voices and help to create your art as part of our community. Any way that we can help you is why we are here,” said Mallett.
Geraldine Fuenmayor and Cecilia Barboza, who are recent recipients of a grant through the Rozsa Foundation, are prime examples of this commitment to diversity. Fuenmayor, who has a background in theatre, and Barboza, who has a background in visual arts, quickly discovered that during the current pandemic, it was going to be very difficult to hold an exhibition of any kind. However, they viewed this challenge as more of an opportunity and made a decision to apply for a grant so that they could to hold an online exhibition that focused on empowering local Hispanic artists through digital story telling. While this was the first time either had applied for a grant, Fuenmayor said that the Rozsa Foundation made the experience very rewarding.
“Simon said that we had a good project, even if it was a bit messy at first. We were happy to have [his] feedback and advice about where the application needed to be stronger and what we needed to explain further. We checked resources on the internet about writing grants and these little tips were helpful. So, even though we applied close to the deadline, the experience has been great. We are finished and we’re now going to have an online exhibition. But we’re also getting attention from other organizations, so we’re going to do a second show. We are so honoured to be in this position; we are very happy.” While the Rozsa Foundation is dedicated to supporting arts organizations through granting streams, the organization is also committed to providing training that allows artists to transfer their skills into arts management. According to Ysselstein, the training offered through the Rozsa Foundation Arts Leadership Programs provides artists with a foundation to work in arts management. As the skills and knowledge of the arts professionals develop, they can begin to advance to programs which require a greater level of experience.
The Arts Leadership Programs include the Rozsa Admin Fundamentals Training (RAFT) which provides arts professionals with less than three years of experience with an introduction to working for a not-for-profit arts organization. The next level of training, the Rozsa Arts Management Program (RAMP), is for arts professionals with more than three years of experience. RAMP introduces students to new concepts and provides greater depth into topics such as marketing, leadership, finance and human resources.
Finally, the Rozsa Executive Arts Leadership Program (REAL) is designed for arts professionals with more than five years of experience in arts leadership positions. REAL provides arts leaders with an opportunity to dig deeper and think about their skills, the work they might be doing and how this impacts the art sector. While Calgary Arts Development and the Rozsa Foundation provide support to artists in different ways, through grants and education, they are both dedicated to helping artists pursue their dreams. “For those of us who are working on the funding side of things, we want to support people in a successful application process,” said Mallett. “The desire is now to provide feedback as it is part of the work we do.
We want to help [artists] to craft [their] work and help them navigate the processes that are out there.
For more information, please visit Calgary Arts Development at www.calgartartsdevelopment.com and the Rozsa Foundation at www.rozsafoundation.org. The Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation is proud to be supported by Calgary Arts Development and Rozsa Foundation.