Grant & Scholarship Resources
These arts-specific programs are just a starting point to track down funding for your creative career.
- Bridge—database primarily for arts administration and music
- FAA graduate student scholarships
- FAA undergraduate student scholarships
- Illinois Arts Council Agency grants
- Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship
- Mid-America Arts Alliance
- MSU Libraries’ Grants for Individuals resources
- Performing arts funding resources collected by the Music and Performing Arts Library
- University of Illinois Assistantship Clearinghouse
- University of Illinois fellowships
- University of Illinois National and International Scholarships Program
- Urbana Arts Grants Program
Think of a grant application as a request to sponsor you. Your ideas and the granting organization’s should match well: you will be acting as an ambassador for your funder, and you want to advertise for a group whose values and goals align with yours. Being successful often comes down to research:
- Look locally and regionally. Most organizations offer grants for subjects they care about and give them to people who live in the area. Receiving a modest award from a nearby funder will later help show a national granting agency that you’d be a good candidate for additional support.
- Find out if the funding will come from tax dollars. If it does, be careful about potentially controversial subject matter in your work. Some granting agencies will not support projects that could be viewed as problematic.
- Once you’ve identified a grant you qualify for, ask the organization for copies of previous winning proposals. It’ll be easier to write your proposal if you’re starting from a successful model.
- Verify by phone that the grant is still available and you have all of the deadlines, instructions, and forms.
- Go over the request for proposals (referred to as the RFP) carefully and make a list of everything you need to supply to complete your application.
- Follow the directions carefully. If you miss a deadline or fail to send in a required component, your proposal will be disqualified.
- Remember that you’re writing to people who may not be in your field. Avoid jargon and keep your material simple.
- Write an easy-to-follow description of your project that includes these elements:
- What you want to accomplish
- Why you want to engage in this work
- The form of the final result (performance, art piece, composition, public engagement activity)
- The intended audience
- How the project will benefit the audience
- What’s different about it
- The strategy for completing the work
- Convince the reader of your ability to deliver on your proposal. Use examples of previous successes: other funded projects, public showings of your work, matching grants, and even in-kind donations as simple as refreshments or supplies count as showings of support.
- Include a plan. Separate the project into tasks and explain what each team member will do on each one. Lengthy or complex proposals might benefit from having a calendar.
- Lay out the budget. Break it down into major components like these: travel, equipment, supplies, space rental, fees, personnel, training, insurance, marketing.
- Explain how you’ll advertise the project to your audience.
- Clearly identify how you’ll evaluate your project’s success: What would success look like (hint: what does the funder care about)? Will you count the number of visitors? Will you collect and evaluate comment cards? Are you going to build a website or set up social media platforms? Are you expecting a certain amount of income or number of sales?
- Don’t forget to include your bio, artist’s statement, or résumé as requested. If you’re working with a team, include this material for each member as needed too.
- Check on whether you need to submit samples in a particular format. Send only what’s requested or provide a link to your website or portfolio if that’s the preferred option. Be sure to select examples that represent your best work and also fit with both your proposal and your potential funder’s objectives.
If you need more detailed help, head to Candid Learning.