Friday, September 14, 2007

When in Doubt, Apply for the Grant

I am completely wrung out from writing two intense grant applications in two days. The second one was dropped into the Fed Ex box ten minutes before the last pickup today, and I am still trying to figure out how to bring myself down from the adrenaline rush.

Because you always want to include the newest work in your proposal, grants often get done later rather than sooner. Then, when there are only a few days left, it is always tempting to paint rather than spend the day writing a grant, especially if you are in an awkward stage in your work and think that you don't stand a chance this year.

Then you remember the story that you used to tell your students.

It was sometime in the late 90s. It was time to apply for the South Florida Cultural Consortium Grant, a whopping $15,000 prize that was awarded to artists just for doing good work. There was no proposal, just send slides and a resume. I was vacillating about applying this particular year: I had applied the year before with what I thought was an amazing, cohesive portfolio of visually stunning paintings. I decided that, this year, I shouldn't apply, because my new work was going off in several different directions, and there was no way that they would make any sense of this pile of assorted drawings and paintings that came from I-know-not-where.

I woke up the morning that the grant was due, and changed my mind. This was back in the days of slides, mind you.... so I set up my easel in the driveway, photographed all my new work, drove the film to the slide developing place, assembled the grant materials, picked up the slides a few hours later, masked all the slides with tape, labeled them, and got to the post office a few minutes before they closed to mail the package. Unlike the year prior, when I was waiting daily to hear from the Cultural Consortium people, I promptly forgot about this application, because I didn't stand a chance... until I got the phone call a few months later.

That grant bought me six months of uninterrupted studio time.
So, my friends... this is only the beginning of grant season, you know what to do:
do the research, find the grants, then suck it up and do the paperwork. When you are finished, order Chinese, have a nice glass of wine and a long, hot bath.

Then go back to painting and forget about it.

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