The Downside of Grants <- Deep Thought Thursday

Surely there’s a downside to receiving a funding grant.

Surely there are several.

What do you think are disadvantages of receiving an individual artist grant?

Do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages?

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3 comments to The Downside of Grants <- Deep Thought Thursday

  • Ooh, this is a good one! Folks tend to focus on the money, but there are many potential downsides to receiving a grant that need to be taken into consideration prior to application. The biggest from my point of view are:
    1. Tracking/Reporting – What outcomes do you need to keep track of? Other people/participants? Number of hours worked? Supplies purchased? Type and amount of artwork produced? How and when is this info communicated to the grantor?
    2. Accounting/Budgeting – Is your budget realistic? Do you have the capacity to do the accounting? Do you know how to use the grantor’s budget form or software?
    3. Work Plan – Is it realistic? Do you have the project management experience to coordinate the work? What if your project veers off in another direction before the grant period ends?
    4. Agenda – The grantor always has one. Does it align with who you are and what you do? Will you be butting heads with the grantor over your work?
    You have to really have your business side down before you take on a grant. It’s not free money. There’s a price tag attached to everything in life and the price of getting a grant is jumping through the hoops and meeting the grantor’s needs/agenda. You should never just chase the money. You need to make sure you honestly have the capacity to pull off a project before going out and finding the right match.

  • The main downside in my view is similar issue to the “themed” exhibitions you mentioned the other day! Almost always grants here have a community requirement – a way of tying in their public money to a public benefit. For me this is contrary to me and my way of working, so I shy away from it unless I genuinely had an idea for how to share the ideas in a community project before applying. If your work or goals just don’t have a link to part of the grantgivers own goals that it becomes a forced part of the project, like forcing yourself to work to a theme. Will it become a burden to integrate an aspect that you won’t want to do? So as Jacqueline says, make sure your intent with the work and project is honestly a good match with the grantgiver.

  • Ditto to all of the above AND remember there are always strings attached: consider the publicity needs (desires) of the grantor. Usually they expect and demand a certain amount of visual credit for their dollars. Are you adept enough at p.r. efforts to provide this and not have it detract from the time you need for the real work of the project? do you have someone willing to document the releases to radio, tv etc and capture them when they appear? Mis-use of a logo, mis-spelling of a branded name, or, even worse, forgetting to use them, can spell disaster for you and your project. Realistically evaluate the hands on board to handle this important aspect.