Hello! I’m Claire, the Development Officer at Manchester Craft & Design Centre. I’m responsible for writing funding applications for the Centre which gained charitable status in 2017. This month’s blog focuses on fundraising and how it might be helpful to artists and makers. It’s a task which has become increasingly important in recent years with public funding less readily available and a pro-active approach can pay off. For artists and makers, funding can provide new opportunities for creativity, such as the scope to develop practice, access training or even travel as well as help setting up in business.
The first consideration is research, with new funding streams coming out regularly it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on likely sources, such as the Arts Council England Website for schemes such as Developing your Creative Practice https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/DYCP with grants of 2-10k for individual artists or creative practitioners. The next round opens on 17th January with a deadline of 21st Feb 2019 for applications. This short film tells you more about how ACE funding works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFD6SHkh1_g&feature=youtu.be
Signing up to funder, arts and community newsletters and e-bulletins can help keep you ahead of the game, most local authorities have their own funding departments and/ or arts staff who can provide advice. One of our favourites for opportunities is Chainlinks a regular e-newletter listing creative commissions, funding, competitions and more and is produced by the Arts Team at Cheshire West and Chester Council https://cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/residents/leisure-parks-and-events/arts-and-festivals/arts-advice.aspx
Search carefully online for specific bursaries and awards to help boost or kick-start your career, purchase tools and equipment or help to fund studies. The Textile Society for example can provide up to 2k for individual craft workers, designers, curators or students http://www.textilesociety.org.uk/bursaries-awards/.
Business support can work a little differently, rather than receiving individual grants, you will receive support from organisations up to the equivalent amount of funding. For example, you may receive up to £12000 in funding from ERDF business support. However, this will all be given to you in the form of fully funded workshops and mentoring. For these opportunities, sign up to your local Business Growth Hub. It can be difficult to separate these offerings from paid for opportunities but take a second look at advertisements for there is a large quantity of support out there which is free to participants.
When writing a funding application, it’s always important to carefully consider what is being asked for. Most grants and trusts have clear criteria and due to sheer numbers can only fund a limited amount of applicants each round. If an opportunity fits closely with your own work and the type of project you want to produce you stand a far greater chance of success. It’s definitely worth looking at recently awarded grants to give a good idea of what a funder is looking for, either on their website or in their most recent annual report. Keep applications to the point and always assume the person reading your words needs a clear explanation of what you are trying to achieve.
It’s always worth following up your application with a polite message or a phone call, if you don’t get a timely response. A lot of the leg-work of fundraising is in networking and building your contacts. Many funders use social media to announce their next available funding, so if you are interested in, say, a Winston Churchill Memorial Travel Grant be sure to mark the next deadline in your diary www.wcmt.org.uk
Lastly, don’t give up! It’s important to remember that all fundraisers (myself included) face rejection from funders, because there is simply so much demand for funding. The more carefully planned, applications you are able to submit, the greater your changes of success. Some funders are happy to provide feedback but even those that don’t will often accept future applications. If at first you don’t succeed…