grants & fundraising

What are the desired outcomes?

Finished first draft of grant. All this talk about evaluations and outcomes and objectives makes me wonder what assessments, if any, I am using to process my own life and writing. I would say that I have developed no standardized assessment tools that any foundation would accept. I simply proceed based on a vague sense of what I feel.

Do any of you guys assess yourselves more scientifically? Like Ben Franklin with his categories to check off each day?

grants & fundraising, ideas, theater

booked to why

I have been taking some time off to rest and end the vicious cycle of endless ear infections, which is my latest excuse for not blogging. This has not prevented me from, today, ensconcing myself at the library to finish another grant proposal for a Chicago theater that I should have been done with days ago.

Here is the list of books my brother recommended in response to my Julian Jaynes quandary.

School A
Metaphors We Live By – Lakoff
Women, Fire and Dangerous Things – Lakoff

School B:
Mental Spaces – Fauconnier
Mappings in Thought and Language – Fauconnier/Turner

Synthesis of A and B:
The Literary Mind – Turner (which was the first one he mentioned)
More than Cool Reason Lakoff/Turner
Where Mathematics Comes From Lakoff/Núñez

I am imagining a Saturday in July, or even August, where I have time to sit down at a library with all of them in a stack.

grants & fundraising

Did you fill out the form?

The artists’ statements are done and the grant is almost finished.

We are lost in the arcane governmental sub-procedures of grant submission, which require registration with three different middleman websites in order to submit one grant. But we’re close.

I am at that point in editing where every sentence is only looked at for a way to make it shorter – I knew I’d gone too far when I was changing sentences like “The organizations involved are A, B, and C” to “Organizations involved are A, B, and C.”

grants & fundraising, writing

time: relative

If you spend eight hours avoiding writing a grant and two hours writing it, how many hours have you worked? The mistake I always make is by starting with a blank document, as if I were composing something. Grants are not composition. It’s a pastiche of other people’s work. Once I remember to open up all the old grants and cut-and-paste, the work flies by. I suspect that at least some of the eight hours that I feel like I wasted was spent thinking out the grant, which is why I wrote it so quickly.

I don’t want to EVER ever ever spend another hour staring at a blank Microsoft Word document, and then reading Mary Beard’s blog, and staring at the document.

When I do this, I always have this conversation with myself:

Me: If it was only going to take you two hours, you could have done that at 10 am, and then –
Self: I wasn’t ready to write it at 10 am.
Me: How am I supposed to know when you’re ready to write it?
Self: I told you I didn’t feel like writing the grant at 10.
Me: This isn’t the kind of writing where you get to “feel like” anything. This is the kind of writing where you’re being PAID, like with MONEY, and so you have to do it on time, and regularly.
Self: I got it done, didn’t I?
Me: I’m getting too old for this.

Contract is contract. Two hours is two hours. My timesheet for the day says TIME IN: 7:45 PM, TIME OUT: 9:45 PM. But I’ve been at a desk since this morning.

grants & fundraising

when, exactly, are we going to see a script?

In other grants/fundraising news, I have been conducting a delicate dance of hypotheticals, helping a client theater company determine whether or not they can apply for a grant which typically wants a full script – with a devised/new piece, where no script will exist for months.

This is one of the fundamental problems of the field. The work is so nebulous until it is made, and the longer you can go on postponing those artistic decisions, the better chance you have of making the right ones. But how can someone fund something they can’t see?

I think we’re going to go for it, but this will be a good challenge for me – trying to make process, in the grant, as tangible as a script.

art, grants & fundraising, theater

open doors

The NEA grant is a stone’s throw from completion, and I know much more about Portable Document Format now. I’ve really enjoyed working on the grant. It’s a refreshing change to be working as a writer, with editorial help, and to know that the words I’m writing are going to be evaluated and considered for something important. I like it. I would do more.

With this project done, it’s time to begin exploring Chicago theater and performance. Last night, bicycling home on Montrose, I saw the curtains drawn over Swimming Pool Project Space‘s bright blue, glowing window. Maybe a new exhibit is in the offing.

It took seeing that curtain drawn to make me realize what I found so appealing about their space – they have an enormous glass window in the storefront, as galleries and retail stores do, not a bricked-up wall like most theaters. Its form is intentionally inviting. They obviously want you to look at it, to come in. I can’t wait to go in on Saturday.

There are so many free events here in Chicago – like the free performance of the Grieg Concerto in the park tonight, at the Grant Park Music Festival.

Free, public, open, glass, see-through: all words theaters should use more.

grants & fundraising, theater


The NEA language is a perverse class of speech all its own, but after working with it for weeks, I find I’m starting to sound like this myself.

“The “Attachments Form” is not a form in the conventional sense. Rather, it is a place to attach documents that you have completed and saved elsewhere on your computer.”

And, my favorite: “Use clear language that can be understood readily.”

It’d be fun, or maybe it’d be perverse, to create a grant application for a grant that doesn’t exist, and through this application to tell the story of a society that no longer exists, either. I’d like to see what grant applications looked like in the CCP.

grants & fundraising, theater, writing

(technically unlimited) access to artistic excellence

I’ve been working for over a month now as a freelance grantwriter for a theater company in Los Angeles on a NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant. It’s been a humbling process. I really wanted to work on this one in particular so that if, in the future, a company I was with wanted to apply for NEA funding, I’d have some experience.

The checklist for the grant contains eleven separate items, each of which is a discrete document – and then there are also three artists’s statements and three work samples. Also, in order to apply for NEA funding, you have to be registered as a contractor with three different online entities, which maintain data.

In contrast to the convoluted bureaucratic process, if you actually call the NEA and speak to the two-person staff of Theater Specialists (as I have done a few times) you get some of the most helpful, nice people you’ve ever talked to on the phone, who really care about theater and want to help you get through the grant.

One thing I thought was interesting, which I learned from one of the Theater Specialists, is that there is no annual budgetary minimum for applying organizations. No matter how small you are, you can apply within the Access to Artistic Excellence category. We learned this when we were asking about our consortium partner, which has a much smaller budget than the lead applicant.

Although I’m sure it’s hard for small theaters to manifest an interesting enough project or a committed enough staff to complete this intensive grant, I’m glad that technically, if you work hard enough, it’s still open to everyone.