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Why don’t more performing artists apply for grants?

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Art grants. They come in many forms and sizes. There is a grant for almost every kind of performances out there, but how many of us actually know about them… or how to get them?

Datin Marion D’ Cruz, co-founder of Five Arts Centre and co-organiser of Krishen Jit Astro Fundsays there are many reasons why many artists do not apply for grants:

“Artists are not aware of what grants are available for what. Or they have applied before and not received a grant so they are disappointed and do not try again.”

Sometimes it’s a matter of perception: “Artists find some of the grant application processes too daunting and complicated.” In addition, “artists are often juggling many jobs at the same time and do not have the time to fill out a grant application.”

And the same obstacles stand between grants and the producers or creators who so desperately need funding.

Why artists are discouraged

Ms Yun Li, who owns a local theatre company, has a preconception that grants may not be given fairly to  the deserving organisations. Yun Li has applied for grants a few times as the industry itself does not pay enough to even cover losses from previous productions. When applying for grants, she was disheartened by the inefficiency of the management and slowness of responses.

Aswara Dance Company’s (grantee in 2014) artistic director Joseph Gonzales now teaches at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. Above is a dance performance he choreographed in ASWARA, “Seru” (2016). Photo by Ashvin Varghese via Dailyseni.com.

Mr Yan (not his real name), a local director, also finds it difficult to get clear information about programmes and grows tired of constant changes in regulations from  grants providers. Yan applied for and received a grant back in 2015 for his theatre production, but it proved more trouble than it was worth. That grant and others are tied to the organisers’ personal agendas and conditions which are hard to adhere to.

Fa Abdul, a producer, has not tried applying for grants before, because she usually finds out about grants too late or because the deadline comes before she can plan her  productions. “Some have clauses attached, setting perimeters to the work such as language and culture promoting certain countries. While self-funding tightens up the budget, it also allows freedom of creativity and eases the decision-making process,” she claims.

Artists don’t need to compromise but they do need to learn

In many cases, it’s simply a matter of not understanding the process. Marion says that some artists are not good at filling out grant applications. “They are good at making their art. They need someone else to do the application for them.”

If you aren’t able to do that, perhaps it’s time to give yourself an advantage and learn more about grants and how to apply for them. Applying for grants require lots of forms-filling and proposal writing, but there are tips and tricks that make it less intimidating. Get the help you need from Marion and other funders at the upcoming  ARTERI Pop-up Class: Preparing An Effective Grant Proposal, on Saturday,11 March, 2017.

“Au Sow Yee- who was a grantee twice (2006 and 2014), is now doing very well in Taiwan. Above is part of her Mengkerang Art Project in 2015. Photo by Lin Yi Quan.”

Sharing knowledge and advice next to Marion will be Jia-Ping Lee from Think City Grant Programme, Hiromi Ikeda  from the The Japan Foundation Grant Programme and Erica Choong of Yayasan Sime Darby Sponsorship.

Places are limited so sign up today. 

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Mia Sabrina Mahadir
Mia Sabrina Mahadir

A jack of many trades, Mia is a familiar face on TV, in the news, at last night’s company dinner or at the place she calls home: the theatre.