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19 January 2018

For first time applicants, grant applications can be overwhelming. We’ve created a few handy hints to help you get through the process — the crucial stuff to bear in mind every time you apply.

1. Do your research

Read the program guidelines carefully! We can't stress this enough – make sure you read the application information thoroughly before you get started, check when supported projects can start from and give yourself plenty of time to complete your application – including the online submission. If in doubt, see tip 8!

Make sure you have a clear idea of what the funding program aims to do and what the assessment criteria are and make sure you clearly state in your application how your project matches the aims and meets the criteria. Search the Creative Victoria website for lists of previous grant recipients to get an indication of what kind of activities have been supported and how much money they received. Does your application fit in with previous patterns or funding? If not, why not?

2. Don't assume anything

Don't see your artform, genre or project type on the lists of previous recipients? Don't assume we won't fund it. We are always looking for ways to support more experimental, niche or cross-art form projects/collaborations, but we may not have received a strong application in your field in the past.

Be very clear about what you want funding for and describe what you will do, not just who you are. While panels comprise industry experts and peers, don’t assume the assessment panel has prior knowledge of your work or your reputation – make sure you include all vital information in your application. Be concise with your project description and don’t use jargon, use clear, simple language. How would you describe your project in one line? One paragraph? To your dentist or barista? Try to simplify your idea so that anyone can understand it, this is useful when it comes time to promote your project too.

3. Plan Ahead

Grant applications ask you to think about all aspects of your project and can be an important tool for planning so don’t leave your application to the last minute! Give yourself time to consider and revise your application and gather relevant support material.

Make sure your support material is well curated and keep it tight – only include material that will add value to your application. Accompanying notes and captions can be useful in helping us to understand how the material connects to your project, so provide brief explanations where appropriate.

While the Creative Victoria grants portal generally opens the month before a closing date you can start preparing your applications ahead of time using application drafting tools and budget templates.

4. Budgets matter

Demonstrate that your project is viable and a good use of the grant money. Be realistic. Spend time researching and planning out your budget properly. Work out your expenses first and then decide how much you can afford to put towards the project income, how much you need to pay your collaborators, and then use all of that information to work out how much funding you need. Many successful applicants recommend completing your budget first, which will help you to shape the scope of the project and assess its feasibility from the outset. Whenever you tackle it, spend as much time as possible shaping the budget now and it will pay dividends for your project down the track.

Be aware that you may not receive all the money you need from us. Can the project still go ahead? Do you have other funding sources? Are there other grants you can apply for to spread the risk? Once you’ve applied, if anything changes, such as you receive funding from another source, let us know.

5. Respond to Assessment Criteria

This sounds obvious, but many people get it wrong. You have to respond to ALL of the assessment criteria to be eligible for a grant, though there is no need to be cookie cutter in the way you tackle these, feel free to approach the requirements in imaginative ways. Just don’t forget to fill in all the fields on your application form and tick all the boxes on your application checklist before you hit ‘submit’.

6. Understand your audience

The most successful grant applications are for projects that have a clear audience in mind. It’s about more than just creating something, it’s about sharing it with people and adding value to the community. Tell us who will benefit from your project and how that reflects the aims of the grant program.

7. Know your responsibilities

Be aware of the laws and guidelines relating to your project. You need to make sure that your project complies with relevant statutes, regulations, by-laws, mandatory codes and requirements of any Commonwealth, State, Territory or Local Authority that is involved.  It is also your responsibility to be aware of laws and protocols that regulate the way you must conduct your work. These laws may include, for example, classification and censorship, Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property and protocols, privacy issues, employment law, working with children and laws governing filming in public.

We strongly recommend that you seek the advice of your agent, legal counsel, or contact the Arts Law Referral Service (Tel: 1800 221 457) for referral to a solicitor. A good starting point may be to consult the Arts Law website.

8. Get in touch!

Our grant teams are available to answer your questions. They are friendly folks with a wealth of useful insight. If you've applied before and been unsuccessful, they can give you feedback on why your application didn't receive support, if you've never applied before they can demystify the process. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone! We're happy to take your call (even happier when you get in early!). Interpreters can be arranged if needed too, please just let us know.

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