How do you get a grant?
by Michael Wheeler
Theatre Centre Managing Director Cathy Gordon and I are speaking at University of Toronto tomorrow. There is an official post about it on the University College website (note the not-so-subtle use of ivy in their web identity), and a facebook event page as well.
Ostensibly we are talking about how to approach public funding for theatre projects and companies. We have some handouts and concrete ideas about that part. What arts councils, what granting programs, what deadlines, etc.
The real story – as most Canadian arts practitioners will tell you – is not one of knowing how to fill out the right form, at the right time, with the right words. It’s my theory (having never been on a granting jury) that the single biggest factor in the success of a grant application is whether or not the applicant had demonstrated a history of excellence. Are you someone who has a history of making compelling art?
So the most immediate question for all of these soon-to-be-graduates is how to approach these sorts of questions: How can you establish a track record and a good one? Should you start a theatre company? How do you pay for things without grants in the beginning? What sorts of projects should you pursue? Are you doing it to leverage your identity as a performer or to create a cohesive ensemble? Why?!?
I’m pretty sure coming up with good answers to these sorts of questions is what leads to grant applications eventually being successful. There aren’t any singular right answers to any of them, but they all require conscious and considered answers.
What do you think readership? What other questions should fresh graduates be asking themselves as they prepare to embark on a theatre career in 2010? Also, please tell me if you think I’m wrong about the excellence thing. What else is important to consider?