[This article was written by guest contributor C. Hope Clark, editor of FundsforWriters.com.]
Grants exist for many writing opportunities, and authors dream of that magic money to jumpstart their careers and support them as they embark in their profession. These are funds that do not have to be repaid and are to aid you in your writing efforts. However, grants are tools, not a mainstay, and as long as we see them as an occasional resource like winning a contest or landing a gig in a magazine, we can utilize them in furthering our profession.
But no two grants are alike. Let’s look at the types of grants out there and see which might be opportunity for your efforts to become a full-time writer.
State Arts Commissions
Each state in the US has one, and each state has different programs. Contact yours and ask for advice. Join their mailing list, keep up with events, classes and grant possibilities. Subscribe to newsletters of the states around you, too, since they tend to post opportunities on a regional and national basis as well. I subscribe to over two dozen of them. Serve on a grant panel and learn how grants are ranked, and learn what makes for a good grant or a poorly designed grant application. You need no special qualifications or degrees.
These arts commissions have a mission to further the arts, and their employees are specialists in funding opportunities. Attend their educational sessions or make an appointment with one of them and pick their brain. Their job is to help you succeed as an artist. You’ll find your commission at http://www.statelocalgov.net/50states-arts.php or http://www.nasaa-arts.org/.
Artists-in-Education and Artists-in-Residence Grants
These grants are provided by the state arts commissions. Some states require you qualify for a roster from which schools and groups request your name, and the arts commission pays your way to present to schools. Some of these residencies can be for half a day, while others can go half a school year or more. Study those already on the roster for ideas, then connect with teachers to inquire what they need. Prepare your presentation with curriculum in mind.
Local Arts Councils
Not every city or county has them, but many do. Check out the arts scene in your community, because some have small grants to aid you in a project, in a workshop, or in traveling to present or research. You can become an actual part of your local arts council, so if they are heavily into dance and the visual arts, your volunteer time might be enough to convince them to slide into the literary arts as well.
You’ll find retreats in the mountains, on the coast, in the heartland or amidst a concrete jungle alive with traffic. Some allow you to attend a long weekend, while others can go for multiple months. And most retreats offer some sort of grant in terms of a residency. Some are need-based and others are purely determined by talent per samples provided in an application. Here are a few:
Weymouth Center in Southern Pines, NC – http://www.weymouthcenter.org
Artists’ Enclave at I-Park in East Haddam, CT – http://www.i-park.org
Ragdale Foundation Residencies at Lake Firest, IL – http://www.ragdale.org
Ucross Foundation in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains – http://www.ucrossfoundation.org
A Studio in the Woods in New Orleans – http://www.astudiointhewoods.org
Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT – http://www.vermontstudiocenter.org/
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) near Mt. San Angelo, VA – http://www.vcca.com/index.html
Centrum Artists Residencies at Port Townsend, WA- http://www.centrum.org/residencies/ -
Byrdcliffe Arts Colony at Woodstock, NY- http://www.woodstockguild.org/
Writing conferences often have scholarships that aren’t widely advertised. If you seek to attend a conference, contact the organizers and inquire as to the availability of this assistance. As a minimum, they might offer a work-study program where you donate time in exchange for fees.
Most larger libraries and some specialized smaller libraries have grants to aid writers seeking specific kinds of research. Every presidential library has these fellowships.
Some colleges and private schools offer residencies for writers to write in peace while occasionally offering teaching services over a short period of time. Or these residents can serve as advisors to students, or provide public presentations. Usually a masters degree or above and proof of publication are required.
Romance Writers of America, SistersinCrime.org, Mystery Writers of America, Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have grants of some sort. Some are for conferences while others are for medical and legal emergencies. Professional organizations work to support its members, and small grants are often part of the package.
In the United States, the IRS income tax code drives a lot of grant activity, mainly in terms of who receives the money. The majority of grants in this country are designed for groups, not individuals like you, so you might consider requesting a school, nonprofit or other group to sponsor you, serving as your fiscal agent. They can apply for grants you cannot as a sole person, and as a result, they receive a percentage of the grant to cover their administrative needs. For a better idea on how to pursue the fiscal agent route, go to www.foundationcenter.org and www.nyfa.org . Search for “fiscal agent.”
Grants are diverse, so if you want to add these to your toolbox of funding resources, take your time to study them. The amazing thing about grants is that once you win one, others become easier. Grant providers respect each other for making good decisions.
You’ll find more grants once you start looking, and you can start looking at these sites:
FundsforWriters – www.fundsforwriters.com
National Endowment for the Arts – www.nea.gov
Michigan State University – http://staff.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/3writing.htm
[Grants file image from Shutterstock.]