The five stages of death…I mean grant writing

It feels like the grant and program season is about to officially kickoff here at the arts council, but that’s just our minds playing tricks on us. The reality is that grants and programs are like the scenery in a Tom and Jerry cartoon: there is no beginning or end. We just circle around and around, breezing past the same end table and easy chair over and over as we chase our mouse. The cat cannot catch the mouse; otherwise the hilarity will end. We can’t stop running either (for obvious reasons), nor do we want to (even when the chase speeds up to a blur).

Meh. Cartoon houses ain't so bad...once you get used to seeing the same floor lamp every four feet.


I’m going to take this new beginning, no matter how illusory, to cheer on those of you who are about to write an FY2013 grant or apply to join a Kentucky Arts Council program. This is not an easy process, and it’s that way for a reason. We want to make sure that those who are adjudicated into our programs and receive grant funding are the absolute best that the Commonwealth has to offer. By accepting nothing but excellence, it is guaranteed that if you are successful in your application your cohort will be a “who’s who” and not a “who cares?”

Be assured that we are empathetic. Many arts council staff have experience applying for grants and programs in previous careers, and we apply for federal and regional opportunities as an agency. It gets pretty “Kübler-Ross” around here in August, although I think people who write grants have their own five phases:

Excitement — “I can totally do this! My work was made for this program. I have great ideas, and they would be crazy not to accept me. If I am accepted I would be among the best, and it would do great things for my business. I am going to assemble my work samples and complete this application the day it opens!”

Apprehension/Anxiety — “Oh no. The application opens tomorrow. Maybe I shouldn’t leap into this with both feet. We could use a few years to grow. Dang—I wish I hadn’t already told the board I would do this, because now I have to.”

Procrastination — “Well, I have until Jan. 15 to get this done. I’ll take a step back and collect some more supporting materials. Besides, it’s almost Thanksgiving, everyone will be off next week and we can’t work on it then. Then we’ll be in the middle of presenting the “Nutcracker,” and people will be in and out the entire month for the holidays—no use trying to coordinate anything in December. We’ll just start fresh on this in the New Year.

Rage — “Why did they change the blankity-blank requirements again? What the bleep is a DUNS number, and why do they need one? I don’t know why anyone puts up with this bleepity-blank just to get a few measly dollars!”

Letting Go— “It’s 11 p.m. on Jan. 14. Everyone else left hours ago! I’m going home. This is done whether it’s finished or not. I feel like I have spent half my life doing this. If they don’t know me by now, they will never ever know me. Oooooh.”

Sound familiar? Please add your own.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Arts Organizations, Other | Tags: ,

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