The Grant Decline

Any artist who has mixed money with their craft has had this experience: the grant decline letter.

2009 has been good to me in terms of grant funding so far. So I thought I’d be more crushed when I recieved the decline letter yesterday from the Leeway Foundation for their Lifetime Transformation Award–their largest grant.

But I wasn’t crushed. I didn’t get insecure about whether my art was good enough, because I felt honored that I had even made it to the final round.

And of course, the people I do know on that list are AMAZING artists. (Like, this film by Heidi Saman–you should see it if it comes to your town.)

Mostly, I just paniced and realized I needed a plan. I hadn’t realized how many things in my brain I was pushing aside with the line “I’ll just wait until I get the chunk of money.”

My soundbites for how to carry on after a grant decline letter:

  • Always have a plan B. Do not sabatoge yourself into a mindset that your creative work is only possible with money, therefore no grant=no art. If you do, you are leaving it to the people who control the money in the art world to decide what gets made. And, well, we know where that will get us.
  • Think social capital, not just financial capital. What are other ways you can get access to the resources you need? Example: last night I posted that I needed a 16mm projector. A few hours later I had been offered two working projectors that were abandoned from someone’s old workplace.
  • Remember it’s about process, not product. A painter friend, B. Aufdenberg, said something to me years ago that stuck with me: “You don’t eat to shit. Your art is not about the product it produces.” Word.

Onward and backward

This week is all about archival research.

I’m preparing for a field trip in two weeks to the National Motion Picture Archives where I’m going to review old newsreels of Norman Schwartzkopf, Sr. in Iran in the 1950s as well as Jr. in the 1990s.

I’m also coordinating with the University of Florida library archives to get high resolution copies of news articles about my Schwarzkopf encounter on thier campus over ten years ago.



Add yours →

  1. Your art is not about the product it produces.
    the process is very important, i agree, but isn’t the product too?? altho some products are not as successful or complete but are so important because of what you learn from them.
    interesting idea that you can onder and discuss for a while. thanks,

  2. Do you mean it’s important what other people learn from the products? Or what the person creating it learns?

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