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Grants for the arts supports individual artists, small projects and new ideas

  • Date: 22 November 2012
  • Artform: Dance, Visual arts
  • Area: South East
Rosanna Tat and Cornelia Turner-Klier, Park Bench Dance Theatre Rosanna Tat and Cornelia Turner-Klier, Park Bench Dance Theatre, Photo courtesy of Park Bench Dance Theatre

Our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme nurtures and supports the development of new ideas and allows individuals and organisations to try things out on a small scale before taking things to the next level.

We talked to a few recipients who recently received Grants for the arts awards for under £10,000 in the South East to find out what advice they'd give to anyone thinking of applying.

Supporting individual artists

Amelia Shepherd is a Brighton-based freelance photographer who has a passion for storytelling. Amelia was awarded a £6,000 Grants for the arts award to present photography exhibition Female Fighters during this year's Brighton Photo Fringe. Female Fighters spotlights female kickboxers and explores the emotional range behind the sport. The multimedia exhibit employed gallery space, the streets and the internet to interact with the public.

How did the Grants for the arts award help your activity or develop your work?

'The award enabled me to increase my presence at Brighton Photo Fringe through increased marketing. I was able to invest in developing my online presence. It gave me an incredible sense of self-worth and achievement that the Arts Council believed in the strength of my work and practice.'

What did the award allow you to do that you wouldn't have otherwise been able to do?

'It enabled me to collaborate with designers to realise particular aspects of the project. I was able to print and mount my work to create a striking and memorable exhibition, which was shortlisted (down to 5) for the Danny Wilson Memorial award.'

What advice or tips would you give to people thinking of applying for the first time?

'Have a thorough concept and execution plan of what the grant is going to be for. Show that you are investing in your practice and don't cut corners. Envisage what you want to achieve and make it happen in your proposal. You must believe in your work and your application. Talk to as many other professionals for guidance.'

Nurturing smaller projects and new ideas

Park Bench Dance Theatre is a small-scale Sussex dance company run by dancers and choreographers Rosanna Tat and Cornelia Turner-Klier. This summer, they were awarded a £4,860 Arts Council Grants for the arts award to research and develop their second contemporary dance piece. The new work is an accessible dance piece that uses objects and furniture in unusual locations and outdoor spaces.

How did the Grants for the arts award help develop your work?

'The grant enabled us to create the piece much quicker than would have otherwise been possible. This intensive timescale gave us a continuity of creation, letting us become focused on the work. It gave us the opportunity to work with musicians to create a score alongside the work. This has challenged our communication skills and developed our ability to talk about our work more confidently.'      

What did the award allow you to do that you wouldn't have otherwise been able to do?

'It allowed us to work for an intensive period, hire space, pay mentors, pay for props and costume, commission musicians and pay ourselves. We gained a lot of experience working together and have started to understand how we approach our subject. It allowed us to make new connections with local musicians and artists. We also now are starting to recognise what our company's artistic style is.

'At the end of our two-week intensive process, we performed a scratch night at The Nightingale Theatre, which would not have happened so quickly if we had not been awarded funding. The recognition as well as financial help has really shifted our company forward and given us a sense of pride in our artistry.'

 What advice or tips would you give to people thinking of applying for the first time?

'I would advise going to your local dance agency and setting up a meeting to discuss your application. Speaking to other artists who have had successful applications is also invaluable for understanding the process, which can feel daunting when you initially read the guidelines. We were fortunate enough to attend a workshop that discussed approaches to Arts Council funding applications with Arts Admin. This helped us to think of ways of tackling each question while also seeing the application as a whole.

'Be confident and to the point about what you are applying for. You will have to do quite a lot of planning of your work - and finances - before you start to write the application, but the application can also help to make your ideas more concrete. Ask friends and artistic colleagues for feedback. We would also advise artists to get their work out there as much as possible before applying.' 

For more information about the Arts Council England Grants for the arts scheme and how to apply, see: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/apply-for-funding/grants-for-the-arts/