Let’s face it how much easier would your writing life be if you were able to secure a grant? Whether it be for attending a writing conference or festival or allowing you to engage the services of a mentor.
Perhaps you are looking to study your craft abroad.
One thing is for sure; if you are the lucky recipient of a grant it, will enrich your life and provide you with opportunities many dream of.
There are a variety of funding resources available through organisations and associations for authors and illustrators.
Depending on what stage of your career you are at will depend on which grant will best suit you.
Before you put pen to paper you need to ask yourself the following:
Why do you want a grant?
You will need to have a project in mind. Don’t waste the assessor’s time. Unless you can be specific and show, you have a clear direction your application won’t stand on its own.
Are you at the right stage of your career to apply?
Applying for a grant is not recommended to those just starting out. Assessors or judges will look for a history. You need to have earned credentials and experience within the industry. This does not mean already having numerous books published it can be as simple as winning a few competitions. Any organisation awarding you a grant will want to know you are serious. Having a history of achievement no matter how big, or small shows your commitment.
Have you done your research?
Make sure you have done your homework. Yes, it can be time consuming trying to find the right grant for you but in the long run it will be worth it. Research shows and also shows you have a clear direction of what you want to achieve. Ensure your budget figures are realistic. Remember you are not the only one applying for that grant your application needs to dazzle them. Letters of recommendation from respected professionals within your industry can help but are not essential.
Have you followed guidelines?
Just like submitting to publishers, submitting your grant application is just as important. You need to ensure you ALWAYS follow the guidelines to the letter. Any deviation could result in your application being thrown in the bin. Arghhh!
Be prepared to complete more paperwork when you secure that grant. The awarding organisation or association will want to know how the money was spent at the end of your grant period.
As I said, you need to ensure you are at the right place to apply for a grant. They are time-consuming and can be hair-pulingly frustrating but so worth it when you receive that call.
I was awarded a partial grant with SCBWI Australia in 2014 but have applied for many many others.
Interview with Zoe Rodriguez
We recently chatted with Zoe Rodriguez and asked her about the grants available from the Copyright Agency.
Zoe is a lawyer and has been with the Copyright Agency for over ten years. She manages the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and author member relations. Zoe regularly speaks at public events about the Fund and the benefits to successful applicants.
(Click on the question to reveal the answer)
1. How long has the Copyright Agency Limited grants program been running?A. Since 1996.
2. How many rounds do you have each year?A. 2, sometimes 3 of the main Cultural Fund, and 4 rounds of the Creative Individuals Career Fund.
3. How long have you been co-ordinating the grants process for CAL?A. Since August 2008.
4. Who can apply for a grant?A. Organisations or individuals in the visual arts or publishing areas, or people running projects linked to them that are within the Cultural Fund guidelines published on the Copyright Agency website.
5. What are the types of different funds available to emerging authors?A. The Creative Individuals Career Fund.
6. How many applications do you receive each round?A. 50 to 150.
7. How much does CAL allocate each year in grants?A. 1.5% of licensing revenue collected. In total that is $2 million dollars. $150,000 of that 1.5% is set aside for the four rounds of the Creative Individuals Career Fund. ($37,500 per round).
8. What is some of the criteria you look for when considering applicants?A. Please look at the published guidelines: www.copyright.com.au/cultural-fund/apply-for-funding-career-development/career-development-funding-guidelines
9. Does is help to include referral letters with your application?A. Not hugely. More helpful are letters of invitation/ confirmation that people have been accepted into workshops/ residencies etc that are run competitively, or that they've been invited to attend such.
10. What are some of the common mistakes made by applicants?A. Thinking we support general travel that people want to undertake to promote their works – we don’t – we support professional skills development, and sometimes travel is necessary, sometimes it’s not. With young authors and artists, if they tell us they just have to go to New York to develop their skills, they are very unlikely to get funding as there’ll be plenty of opportunities to learn in Australia at much reduced cost. In addition, to apply while a student and with no track record of publication or exhibition will almost always mean an applicant is not successful – our assessors need to see that applicants are asking for things from which they will truly benefit.
11. If you received two applicants almost identical in application what helps the board decide who is more deserving?A. If they were identical other than the name of the applicant, and the activity covered were one that the Board wanted to support, but could only support one applicant, they would have an eye to things like geographic representation – the Board like to see the funds shared around, and if they had one application from a very over-represented state or territory (NSW, for instance) they would probably support a competing application from an under-represented state or territory (such as Tasmania). They might also look to whether the applicant were metropolitan or regional, creative area, or gender, or Indigeneity etc for similar reasons to find a rough justice of sharing funds around within the creative community.
12. Is a person’s history within the field they are applying for important? Eg. Is a published author/illustrator more likely to be selected over someone who has yet to be published?A. Yes. You need to have some track record for our assessors to provide funding.
13. Do you get to see the results from a successful grant applicant’s nominated project?A. Depends what the project is – but all recipients of funding need to send us acquittal reports – in which they document how they used the funding (in accordance with the application), and also what impact it has had. If it’s funding that’s supported a project with broad industry implication – then we’d expect the impact to be for more people. Sometimes for individuals they can tell us that they undertook a specific activity, but sometimes the impact of that funding cannot be told till years later – and we still like to hear from applicants after this time if they think our funding has assisted them.
14. Do you have any final tips for those applying for a grant through the Copyright Agency Limited?A.
- Please use plain English – none of our Board or assessors enjoy wading through jargon-riddled applications. A good idea does not need to be dressed up in turgid writing – that’ll go against the application.
- Don’t attach lengthy, glossy proposals/ publications – we say two pages max per attachment, and that’s what our Board will look at. Completing the application form within the set word limits should provide the information required for decision makers to look at applications.
- Make sure your budget is exceptionally clear – once whoever is making funding decisions (Board members or external assessors) they will focus on this. Don’t pad out the budget – all of the people looking at applications have looked at many others and have a very good idea what things cost, and will reject an application which is ridiculously overblown.
- Look at the guidelines we’ve published on our website – we’ve spent some time drafting them, and it’s very annoying to see applications where the person drafting the application has obviously not looked at them or looked at them closely enough. Similarly – don’t phone Copyright Agency for information about the Cultural Fund that you could find in the published guidelines – read them, and if things still don’t make sense – then call or email.