I Was Once Like You, Part 1: An Applicant Prepares

It’s that time of year again! The weather’s going crazy as we approach the autumnal equinox, and the BAC grants department is hard at work as our deadlines approach. And you? Well if you’re thinking about applying to one of our grants, you are likely doing your own fair share of running around. Or you should be. Because let me know tell you something – I was once like you.
Before I started working at BAC, I was both a grant applicant and a grantee. I filled out all those boxes and agonized over my budgets. And through this experience I learned one very important thing, and I’m here to share it with you. Starting early with make your life easier. Now I know that might seem both once obvious and useless to the skeptics out there, but I’ll break it down into four tips:

Phone a friend
It’s a great idea to get somebody else to read over your application before you send it to us. Give it to your friend, the one who’s not an artist. Do they know what you’re talking about? Can they follow your narrative? It’s true that your application will be sent to a panel of your peers, but you don’t want to assume prior knowledge. Your writing shouldn’t be too academic or packed full of jargon. And it should include the basic who, what, when, where, why of it all. So send your application to a friend and ask for feedback. And maybe bake them some cookies to sweeten the deal.

Does this thing even work?
My first year as a BAC grant applicant, I assumed that because I was in physical possession of a printer, I was all set. I spent most of my time preparing my narrative, my budget, and my work sample, ensuring that everything was just so. And I left the preparation of the actual, physical application until the last day because I assumed it would be quick and easy. What a fool I was! When I plugged my printer into my laptop and pressed print, nothing happened. I laughed! I cried! I freaked all the way out! Then I ended up visiting not just one but two different Brooklyn public libraries so I could print out my application. It was a complete and total nightmare. Don’t be like me. Have a printing plan in place.

Gather your materials
Another reason why my application took so long to print was that I was emailing people asking for their resumes, letters of support, etc. the day of the deadline. In hindsight, I realize that I wasn’t clear enough with my colleagues about when I needed those documents from them, and so I found myself hounding them via email and straining to remain polite. Don’t do what I did. Communicate with your collaborators clearly, often, and early.

Note the time
Don’t forget that once you get your application printed, collated, and packed, you still have to get if to us on time. That means you’ll either need to bring it to the BAC office by 6pm sharp on the day of the deadline (9/16 for LAS and 9/23 for CAF), or you’ll need to get your application packet postmarked by the USPS on the appropriate date. Know how you’re going to get your application to us! Because it took me so long to print and prepare my application my first year as an applicant, the BAC offices and most of the post offices were closed. I was forced to make a mad dash via subway to the big post office at 421 8th Avenue to get that puppy postmarked.

I’ll say one last thing, and then I’ll sign off. We’re already receiving the first grant applications of the year. And we’re lovingly filing them to await processing. If you’ve got everything together and you’ve looked your application over, it’s okay to turn it in early. If you can avoid turning your applications in at the last possible moment, you’ll save yourself a ton a stress.

Azure Osborne-Lee is a theatre maker, writer, and arts administrator. He joined BAC as a Grants Associate in July of 2014. Azure holds a BA in English and Spanish and an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies from The University of Texas at Austin as well as an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is writer for Fringe Review US and he has a website somewhere. Oh, here it is: azureosbornelee.com

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