The Supporting Act Foundation

You’ve been awarded a grant – now what?

Adjust reading color

Applying is one thing – making the most of the opportunity is the next step.

There’s a lot said about applying for funding. But what happens when you’ve received the money? 

We spoke with some of our grantees to ask about their experience, and also sought some tips for others who are thinking of applying and asked their perspective about arts funding.

Time is valuable

The transition from art school to graduation can be challenging. Receiving the Creative Bursary grant meant Elleanna Chapman was able to “to keep making after graduation. Without the financial support, I would not be able to dedicate time and energy to my practice, as I would have to work full time just to make ends meet.”

Most artists struggle with finding the time and energy to commit to their work, especially while needing to balance costs of rent and other bills. Elleanna was able to work only part time, which meant “each week I can have a few days for art – whether it's visiting galleries or making.”

Strong foundations help you do more

Oroko Radio used the funding to bring more people onboard, which supported their team with operations – meaning they could do more for others. By streamlining internal processes and lifting the burden of admin, "we have more capacity to help develop our community and their creative journeys" they explained. 

This advice holds true regardless of what stage your project is at: by investing in solid foundations of your organization, this will "benefit the longevity of your project and the community you serve in the long run."

Think about the long term

For Angelo Ormskerk, the Creative Bursary grant allowed him to “further research and develop on my working method as a stage director.”

Taking time to develop your process as an artist is essential, he says. “The more concrete your ideas, vision and mission are for your artistic practice, the more specific you are able to find language for others to understand/imagine your work – and therefore your chances to be supported.”

Slow down – and be selective

For Daniela Tovar, slowing down was important. But the additional support from the Creative Bursary funding meant she could be more selective, too. “It has also allowed me to consciously choose the projects I want to spend my time and energy on. On a daily basis it has given me the time to take care of myself and live in a more healthier and disciplined way.”

This has given Tovar a brighter outlook for the future: “Ultimately It has given me a safe ground to think and project bigger opportunities in my career.”

Plan for the future

Daniel and Paula from Espacio Común, Impact Grant funding meant they could dedicate “100% of our time to projects related to architecture, art and community. This has allowed us to organize and commit ourselves to Espacio Común in the long term and not only to develop projects without time and on a voluntary basis.”

Taking that step from volunteering to working full-time is pivotal for any project – and one of the most important things to do is to lay groundwork for the future. “In these first three months,” they explained, “we have been able to participate in an architecture competition, we have submitted an application to a cooperation fund for next year and we are currently co-organising a floating jungle film festival. Without the support of The Supporting Act we would probably have had to focus only on some of them.”

Tips for applying – be honest

Before applying, Legal Aliens Theatre appeared to be doing well. One success led to another, yet this created new strains on the team, and proved to be “overwhelming for our core members because it wasn’t supported by enough funding to sustain our growth.”

They attribute their success in applying with being totally honest. “We clearly stated how burnout we felt.” Feeling tired and overstretched was “exactly why we needed the funding!”

Tips for applying – it’s OK to learn as you go

Ankie van Kasteren says you should be “concrete and specific in why you need the bursary.” Like many others, the Creative Bursary was the first funding program she had applied for, but this was a useful learning process to go through. She recommends not being afraid to “open up, even though it can be scary or confronting to write down any difficulties you are facing regarding your studies and project.”

How should arts funding change? 

These conversations also prompted a reflection about what the future of arts funding could – and should – look like. 

Daniela Tovar believes more funders should look beyond the CV of an applicant, which can only describe what they have already done, and consider the potentials of a project. And to help nurture that potential, they should “facilitate connections between institutions, foundations and emerging art professionals.”

Echoing a similar idea, Legal Aliens Theatre says “most grants are just limited to one project but once that’s done artists go back to square one. The hardest thing isn’t to have a couple of successful projects, but to grow both artistically and financially so that one side can support the other.”

Now what?

From our point of view, this is only the beginning of a conversation. Through providing time and fostering community, arts funding can enable artists and non-profits to lead the way.

More articles

Welcome to The Supporting Act Foundation.

Despite our (very) best efforts, unfortunately we can’t guarantee our website is always up to date, error-free, or accessible for every need.

Our site may also have links to third-party websites. We’re not responsible for the information these websites provide, and cannot be held liable for anything that comes from a third party.

Finally, the text and images on our site are protected by copyright law. This means you cannot copy or reuse this content without the permission of The Supporting Act Foundation or its licensors.