Grants Can Open Gates by Guest Blogger Liz Steffenson

Have you ever dreamed of attending a writer’s retreat?  Mingling with other creatives and soaking in all kinds of writerly wisdom from seasoned professionals?  

Or, can you imagine having a veteran author mentor you, giving you one on one advice on how to improve YOUR writing?

Fortunately, there are organizations who have set aside funds to help you do just that.  They believe that the arts are not only important, but essential in making this world a better place.   And guess what?  As an artist, this money is available to YOU!   An Art Grant could be just what you need to sky rocket your writing in AMAZING ways!  It takes a little elbow grease, but it is well the effort to check out the possibilities available to you.  

Here are some tips:

  1.  Research Art Grants in your area – check the due dates and obtain the necessary materials.
  •  If you can, invest in yourself before applying.  Showing that you have taken classes, been to conferences, etc. shows that you are serious about pursuing your art—that this endeavor is not simply a passing whim. 
  • Consider how to best spend your money.  The board members want to know that the funds will be spent on worthwhile items or activities that will not only benefit you in your craft, but others as well, as your art enters the world. Here are some possible ideas:
  • Enrolling in creative writing classes
    • Purchasing professional critiques 
    • Attending a Children’s Writing Conference
    • Purchasing a projector for teaching presentations
  •  Provide accurate and specific dates and costs of requested activities and items.  
  •  Spend a generous amount of time completing your application.  You will need high quality, thoughtful responses to each question.  Set aside a full day for this.  
  •  Be complete and concise, but also be heartfelt.  The board members approving your application are REAL people who truly want to help artists.  Be authentic.  Be passionate.  Show that you are earnest about growing as an artist and how your art might impact the world.  
  •  Consult with the grant staff!  They can be enormously helpful in giving you tips and knowing common mistakes to avoid.  
  • If your application process involves giving a presentation, dress your best.  Dressing professionally will convey that you will also ACT professionally—that you will use the money appropriately, will abide by the due dates, and complete the necessary post- grant paper work.  In short, it will show people you have your act together. 

These grants can be competitive.  But, if you invest your time in completing an excellent application, so many doors could be open to you.  And, as your skills grow, you will be in a position to pay it forward to your community as you share your art and knowledge with others.  These grants can help you make your dream a reality.  But more importantly, they can help you make the world just a little more beautiful by promoting the arts!    

Guest blogger, Liz Steffenson, has been the very fortunate and grateful recipient of two McKnight Individual Artist Grants used to hone her skill in writing for children.  Before Covid, she initiated a creative writing club at her middle school in an effort to pay it forward.  Those wonderfully talented and inspiring youth kept her on her toes in Cambridge, Minnesota!

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