Each application you write, whether for funding, sponsorship, an exhibition or residency, will have some things in common.
Read the application form
Although this sounds obvious, many people submit applications that cannot succeed because forms are incorrectly filled in, or inappropriate supporting materials have been submitted. With all applications, read the form and guidelines thoroughly at least once and familiarise yourself with what you must provide, and how it should be provided.
If there is an application form
In all cases, after reading the form, make a draft version of your answers, only writing on the form once you are certain of what you need to say, and someone else has checked your work for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and that what you have written makes sense.
Type the application where possible (ideally in a sans-serif font over 12 points for legibility) or write very neatly in black ink, ensuring that all details you fill in are correct.
Ensure you do not over-run any word limit imposed on the form - this is set by the organisation you are applying to so that they know how long going through all the applications will take, and may not look at applications if they are substantially longer than requested. In any case, be as concise as you can, bearing in mind that many forms act only as an indication of your project to be followed up in interview, where you can explain yourself further. If you need to provide more information, only do so after checking with the organisation you are applying to.
- Not all applications require curriculum vitae (CV) to be sent with the form.
- Keep the application form neat and clean.
- Always keep a copy of the form.
If there is no application form
Think carefully about what the opportunity is for and how your experience relates to it. Use your previous research to get ideas as to what you should write. Keep your covering letter brief, and only if requested accompany it with a very short (1-2 page) CV, listing only your most relevant arts experience or projects. A guide for creating a CV can be found on this website.
Be honest; never attempt to mislead the people you are applying to. If you are found making inaccurate applications you will probably be asked for any money to be returned or an opportunity refused, as well as having future applications refused, wasting all your hard work and efforts. Be aware that many of the same people will sit on different panels for different opportunities.
Deadlines for applications should always be respected - the people you are applying to need the time after the deadline to look at all the proposals and come up with a decision. If you cannot make an excellent application before the deadline, it may not be worth your while applying - perhaps the opportunity is repeated, and you can begin planning an application for the next round.
Only submit a late application if you have cleared this with the organisation you are applying to.
Remember you can apply at any time before the deadline, not just on the deadline date, and an early application signals to an organisation that you are organised.
If you are short-listed for awards or commissions, you may be invited to give a verbal presentation or attend an interview about your proposal. These are often informal meetings to give the selection panel a chance to find out more about your project, about you, and question any inconsistencies.
If you are invited to talk, telephone to clarify what is expected of you if you are not sure, and if a presentation is required. Structure your talk and practise in front of friends to get some experience of answering questions about the project.
Some of the information on this page was selected from The Guide to UK Company Giving, published by the Directory of Social Change. A copy of this publication can usually be obtained in your local library or from DSC directly.