How To Not Get A Grant by Miriam Sagan

About a year ago, the creative duo of Maternal Mitochondria applied for a small grant we did not get. Nothing unusual there. We thought we were right in their catchment area according to the call, but when we reviewed what they funded we could easily see—it just wasn’t us. Plus it was very competitive. That said, this is a usual enough occurrence. We apply to a lot of things, and often get rejected as well as getting accepted a fair amount.
So, what is of interest here?
I reviewed our proposal, which was for three projects. None of them seemed very pricey so I started to wonder if we could do them without the grant. And it seems like we can—and will.
The first was to do an all ages workshop of suminagashi and poetry and install a geocache walk in a public space. Well, we’re set up to do just that with the support of the Railyard Park in Santa Fe in August.
The second project was to do a geocache path of our own art and poetry. This project has really taken off, and is going to be a permanent site off Route 14. Our resource here, instead of the grant, is my son-in-law Tim Brown who is designing nine amazing spirit houses out of scrap metal. These will be containers for changing shows, but they are sculptural works of art all by themselves.
The third project was to geocache works of individual women artists which they’d installed near their studios/houses. We’d asked for small honorariums for this. This project hasn’t happened yet, although a variant will be a pop-up show curated at the Santa Fe Poetry Garden in the fall. But thinking about it now, it seems like it would be easy enough to get artists to participate without honorariums—or just to find another donor for this modest budget.
Of course a grant is good for visibility. However, I have learned over the years that hoping to be validated from the outside isn’t a position of strength. As artists, we don’t want to have to first please others in authority before we can create. We need to just go for it. However, this is much more doable if we are working in community, in collaboration, on teams, and with our friends, family, and neighbors. Money is a great resource, but when it is scarce there are substitutes.
So we’ll keep applying for things. And keep making art.

2 thoughts on “How To Not Get A Grant by Miriam Sagan

  1. I do feel for you. I was turned down for a haikai-related grant, which was picked up by someone with no great interest in a similar but smaller project. I tried to help them, but it seemed just a game to them. Then went for another grant, same project, which thankfully we were turned down for, as the money was so small, and the travel and accommodation alone would have cost us thousands.

    BUT someone from the library services (a doer) saw the proposal and loved it, so she contacted us for a chat over coffee. It was several hundred miles but we liked her and what she did for her city. Well, over that coffee, with no bureaucracy and jumping through hoops, we were offered (for real) ten thousand pounds sterling, not bad eh? Then she bought us lunch, and we gained another ten thousand pounds sterling. It was a done deal, she hated too much bureaucracy, but somehow got a lot done, a helluva lot done, and myself and my project partner loved our project, and worked very long hours, over thirteen months. I doubt that would ever happen again, it was just good timing all around, as certain funds keep over decades was freed to benefit all the libraries and not just one in the past.

    It was incredibly successful and benefited thousands of people.

    warm regards,

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