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Grant And Award Applications
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

Making effective grant and award applications is a crucial area that can generate valuable income and recognition for creative people. We present the kinds of questions and issues that arise in grant and award applications so creative people can more fully prepare for what may often be experienced as an intimidating and bewildering process.

The Politics of Grants and Awards

Grants and awards are provided for one of two reasons:

1. They form the basis of a governmental strategy that has been put in place with the aim of encouraging and supporting the artistic community, creative endeavour, or to carry forward a particular government policy (eg. web awards encourage businesses to explore the opportunities of e-commerce and develop a particular area of the economy which a government may wish to stimulate); or

2. They are commercially run with the aim of promoting and associating a company brand with a particular activity and expertise. In addition the grant/award making business will target their award to a particular sector that may also potentially increase revenue through increased interest in their product and/or service.

Making an effective grant or award application is therefore as much about ensuring you talk the same language as those issuing the award as having a deserving project. Researching and tailoring the application specifically to the organisation or business that is offering the grant or award will ensure a much greater chance of success.

Grant Applications for Artistic Work

Many creative people apply for grants from government arts institutions. Whatever the grant, always take time to prepare your application thoroughly.

Apart from the obvious requirements like contact details you'll be required to make statements and to answer many questions on issues relating to your proposed project. The following section draws heavily on the grant application issued by the Arts Council of England and provides a sound basis for preparations creative people should make before approaching and applying for an award.

You and your work

You may be asked to describe:

What you want to do
What you want to achieve, and how it fits in with your current work and its future development
Why your proposed project is important to you or your organisation
The names, skills and experience of artists and the other main people involved in your proposed project
How you may bring in and involve other artists or skills

You may also be required to attach a CV (curriculum vitae) with your application.

Making it happen

You may be asked to describe:

Any plans you have already made
How you will manage and carry out the activity to achieve its aims
Evidence of support from any partners, including funders
Your past experience of successfully managing a similar activity
How you will manage the main stages of the activity and what each stage contains


You may be asked to describe:

Your approach to raising money from other sources for this activity
Any effect the activity will have on your long-term financial position
The financial control systems you have in place


You may be asked to describe:

The benefit it will bring to you, your organisation or other people
Details about the people the activity will reach, for example, the audiences, or people taking part or attending
How you will reach them, including marketing activity
Any evidence of demand for the activity


If an award or grant is given, the award/grant body may ask you to evaluate your work and you may ask you to describe how you propose to evaluate it. The award/grant body may assess the information in your written proposal and application form by taking account of:

The artistic quality of the activity or its ongoing effect on your artistic practice
How the activity will be managed and its ongoing effect
How feasible the activity is financially, and its future effect
How the public will benefit from the activity, immediately or in the longer term
The contribution of the activity to meeting the aims of the award/grant body

Example Award Application Form

The following section provides an example award application. Creative people should draft an application and keep it handy in the event a grant or award opportunity arises.

About You


First Name:

Last Name:



Describe any particular communication needs that you or your main contact person have (for example, communication by textphone, materials in large print and so on).

Please say (in no more than 50 words) what you do (if you are applying as an individual), or what your organisation does.

Please provide a description (in no more than 50 words) of the activity you are requesting support for:

How many people do you estimate will benefit from the activity?

If possible, please also estimate how many people benefited from your last 12 months’ activity. If none applies, write ‘Not applicable’ or ‘N/A’. Please note that ‘taking part’ means doing the activity. ‘Audience’ includes people going to an exhibition or performance, and people getting access to printed, recorded or broadcast work, or work on the internet.

Where will this activity take place?

What are the age ranges of the people who will benefit from your activity? Children under five | Children (five to 11) | Youth (12 to 19) | Young adults (20 to 24) | Adults (25 to 64) | Adults (65 and over) | All age ranges

Please give details of the expected result of your activity: Number of performance or exhibition days | Number of new products or commissions | Period of employment for artists


The budget should be for the total cost of the activity you are applying to do.

The income and ‘expenditure’ (costs) for your activity should match.

Most grants to individuals are ‘taxable’. You will need to speak to your own tax office if you have any questions about this.

Income for your activity
Break down the income for your activity.

Private income
Include any income from private sources, for example, from you or your organisation, or donations or grants from trusts and foundations.

Support in kind
Estimate the cost for any items or services given to you that you would otherwise have to pay for.

Expenditure for your activity
Give details of all the items you will be paying for as part of your activity.

Artistic expenditure: include the fees and wages of, for example, actors, musicians, dancers, visual artists, stage designers, directors, producers, composers, writers, choreographers, stage managers, lighting designers, curators and workshop leaders.

Include the costs of projects, events, commissions, research and development, productions and residencies, including any materials or equipment you need to carry these things out.

For touring activity, please list fees and wages as well as other costs. These may include costs for creating and preparing a tour, and costs that are the direct result of touring, for example, travel, transport, accommodation and subsistence costs.

Organisational and professional development
Include the costs of organisational development activity, including business planning, artistic development, relocation, feasibility studies, support from consultants and dealing with debts.

Include the costs of training, travel or other professional development such as bursaries and fellowships.

Include marketing costs run up as a direct result of your activity, for example, design and print costs, direct mailing, website design, photography and fees to people supporting press and marketing activity.

The amount you apply for must relate directly to the amount of time spent on the activity you are asking us to support, so please explain how you have worked this out.

Capital expenditure
If you are applying for a capital grant, you should include the costs of equipment, vehicles, access improvements, refurbishing arts buildings, public art, buying property and leases.

About you or your organisation

Select your organisation type: Arts organisation – Amateur | Voluntary Arts Organisation – Professional | Local authority | Community or Voluntary Trust or Foundation Organisation | Educational Establishment | Youth Group | Sole Trader | Partnership | Private limited Company | Public Limited Company | Registered Charity | Non-registered Charity | Not-for-profit | Trade Association | Other

What year was your organisation formed?

How many people do you employ?

Are you a voluntary or community organisation? This should be qualified in the award application as there are many different definitions of voluntary and community.

Does your organisation exist purely to sell products and/or services online?

When did your organisation begin trading?

Determine your category: E-Business Start-up | E-Trading | E-Business | Voluntary & Community

Describe your business

If you are a subsidiary, provide your parent organisation's details:

Number of employees:

Company registration number:

Turnover (revenue) in your last financial year:

Profit before tax in your last financial year:

Estimate your revenue from e-trading last year (£ or %):

Do you accept credit card payments: Yes | No

How do you process credit card transactions?: on-line | off-line

What percentage of your credit card transactions do you process on-line?

Do you comply with the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000?
Yes | No

Are you registered under the Data Protection Act?
Yes | No

How quickly do you respond to email queries (on average)?

Do you have any web trading accreditations or certifications? If yes, which ones?

General information

Your main website URL (if any):

Give an overview of your web site:

What are its strengths and weaknesses?

What are the benefits to your organisation of having the web site?

What is the target audience (the users) of your web site?

What are the benefits to your target audience of using the web site?

How have you improved the quality of your product, service or information delivery using the Internet?

What were your objectives in going online and did you achieve them?

Describe how you ensure security of information and/or access on your site:

Please provide the URL for your privacy statement:

If required, please provide a login for the judges:

What was the total cost of the implementation of your website?

Describe the planning process involved:

What is unique and/or innovative about your approach?

Provide one example which illustrates your success so far:

What have you learned?

What would you do differently next time?

What are your plans for the future?


After making a great application and offering a deserving project as its focus you may still fail to gain a grant or award. In the case of arts grants this is often the result of a closed process that is selective and biased to those matching the tastes and whims of a few, but influential body of art administrators.

Awards initiated by the business community tend to be more open, however, there remain commercial incentives that drive the awards process that must be satisfied by the award winners, and your project may not carry forward the companies underlying agenda.

Whether you're successful or not in your search for glory and recognition there's one final thought you should hold close: for every award winner there are many more deserving alternatives. Awards are opinions, and yours are as important as any others...

Authors background

Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author.

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