Resources for Artists: Affordable Housing

It is the inescapable reality of Brooklyn life that the cost of living here is on a steep incline, with no signs of slowing down any time soon.

dont like it

Supernatural’s Dean and Castiel discuss gentrification-related displacement and rent increases.

The median household income for Kings County is $46,085 with 62.4% of the population over the age of 16 actively participating in the labor force. The average rent in Brooklyn increased to $2,714.14, up 0.48% from $2,711.22 in March 2015. Over the past 12 months, Brooklyn rents are up 2.26%, from $2,663.93 in April 2014.

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Friends with Money: Carolyn Butts-Schmalenberger

Artist Carolyn Butts-Schmalenberger. Photo provided by artist.

Artist Carolyn Butts-Schmalenberger. Photo provided by artist.

Name: Carolyn Butts-Schmalenberger

Aka: Founder and Festival Director for  Reel Sisters of the Diaspora

Hometown: Brooklyn

Neighborhood: Crown Heights

Favorite thing about your neighborhood:

Love the people and the small town feel of Brooklyn neighborhoods. My favorite places to people watch is Tom’s, Brooklyn Bridge and Prospect Parks. I enjoy dancing at Franklin Park bar on Fridays.

What did you get funded for?

Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series.

What’s that all about?

Reel Sisters presents films produced, directed and written by women of color across the globe. It is the first Brooklyn-based film festival devoted to women in film.

What else do you have coming up?

Launched an exciting new website devoted to showcasing artists and writers. The Artivist Rises, an exhibition on activism in the arts, is on view until May 4, 2015 at 1199SEIU Gallery in Times Square.

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Resources for Artists: Grant Writing

I’m about to make a few assumptions.

Prepare yourself accordingly, and let’s dive in.

possum psychic

  1. You are an artist or representative of an arts organization, based in Brooklyn or the surrounding New York Area.
  2. You have a creative idea or mission you would like to see come to fruition.
  3. You need money.

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Friends with Money: Gretchen Van Lente/Drama of Works

Drama of Works production still. Image provided by artist.

Drama of Works production still. Image provided by artist.

Name:  Gretchen Van Lente

AKA: Artistic Director of Drama of Works

Hometown: Brooklyn

Current Neighborhood: Boerum Hill

Favorite thing about neighborhood: Such a mix of people, not fully gentrified yet…

What did you get funded for: Blood Red Roses: the Female Pirate Project

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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