Creative Communities Fund

With Hull being the UK City of Culture next year there are lots of opportunities becoming available for artists to get involved. As I am coming to the end of my Photography BA and wondering what I am going to do next I thought I would take advantage of these opportunities.

The Creative Communities Fund is available to support artists wanting to put on some creative activities in 2017. There are a number of criteria that your activity needs to include but if it meets those criteria you can apply for up £10,000 and in exceptional circumstances even more than that.

Projects must celebrate arts and culture, be open to everyone, engage people and communities in Hull and be more than the every day. It should fit into at least one of the seasons that the City of Culture will be focusing on next year. That is Jan -Mar Made in Hull, Apr-Jun Roots and Routes, Jul-Sep Freedom and Oct-Dec Tell the World. Then there are a number of secondary criteria that the funders would also like projects to meet including Working in Partnership (with artists overseas), Embracing digital and technology and finally Looking beyond 2017.

I discussed a few ideas with my tutor and the idea that I really wanted to go for would mean that I would be applying for almost all of the £10,000 allowance. I doubted that anyone would give someone straight out of college (even someone as mature as me) a grant for £10,000. However, my tutor said it sounded like a great idea and pointed out that I have lots of experience in other areas.

I wrote an outline plan for a project that involves hosting a number of workshops with local residents in Hull on the theme of Freedom, then a few months later hosting similar workshops in Hull’s twin town, Freetown, Sierra Leone. The project would then finish with exhibitions of the final photographs in both Hull and Freetown.

Not having any links with Sierra Leone myself my tutor put me in touch with the directors at Nova Studios who have been working in Sierra Leone for more than 10 years. I have also independently spoken to someone who is the national director of World Vision in Ethiopia but who has previously lived and worked in Sierra Leone and I am hoping that he will be able to give me some contacts too.

Not having many links to groups in Hull, my tutor also put me in touch with someone at Creator College that uses the creative arts to educate young people not in school. He was very pleased to hear about my idea and has invited me to do some workshops with the young people at his school. I also remembered that I have a friend who has recently moved to Hull and is working on the Bransholme Estate as part of a local church and wanting to build more of a community feel on the estate. I contacted him and he was delighted to offer me the space and access to the groups that meet in their community building.

It looked like this plan was coming together so all I needed to do was knuckle down and fill in the application form. It is the first funding application form that I have completed and it took me more than two days to write it all out clearly, ensure that I had all the information they could possibly want and to double check all the details. But I have finally done it!

I won’t hear until July if I have been successful or not and it is anticipated that demand will be high but lets keep our fingers crossed and hope that the outcome is positive.

Grants for the Arts

This week I went to a ‘roadshow’ at the Library in Hull hosted by Arts Council England to hear them talk about how to apply for Arts grants from them.

The talk began with a brief overview of the fund that the Arts Council has available. They would be focussing on the Grants for the Arts Lottery funded pot of money for this event. There are specific rules attached to it and it is for arts activities that are completed within a particular time-frame (they cannot be ongoing or open-ended projects).

It is very competitive with more than 8,500 applications last year and around 3,300 grants awarded.

There are two application processes depending on the amount of money being applied for, the process for under £15,000 is quite straight forward but the process for over £15,000 is a little more comprehensive. Both can be completed online using a new grant management system.

The fund is not available for students or have anything to do with school curriculums and cannot be retrospective but community groups and individual artists can apply and the grants can be used to host workshops, productions, exhibitions, festivals and much more. Whatever it is, it must benefit the public.

Application

The application process takes you through a number of focussed, directive questions.

Artistic quality – This section talks about the projects objectives and the impact that it will have on its audience. It asks for an overview of the concept of the project and a list of the artists that will be involved.

Public Engagement – This section asks about how the project increases and deepens opportunities for the public to get involved, how many participants will be reached in both the long and short-term, how many people may attend, volunteer or work with an artist.

Finance – This section asks how much the project will cost, how realistic it is, what other funds will be available to the applicant (at least 10 percent of the projects costs must be funded from another source). N.b. that artists must be paid properly.

Management – This section asks about how the project will be managed. Is it doable? What is the capability of the applicant? What resources are already available and who will be managing the project?

The application will give a considerable consideration to risk. What is the timeline? What partnerships might be formed? How good is the planning? How good is the evaluation? Is the budget realistic? How will the finances be managed? Have previous grants been awarded and how were they managed?

Evaluation is another part of the process that applicants should pay particular attention to. Evaluation needs to include self-evaluation and activity reports that relate to the objectives and feedback into the project’s plan. It needs to help keep the project on track, within budget and prove value for money.

How Decisions are Made

Initially form are judged and returned if there is more information needed or if they have been completed incorrectly. The context of the project is considered and it is benchmarked against other applications, the professional judgement of the decision makers at the Arts Council is used.

For applications under £15,000 the projects are risk assessed, compared to other applications and the decision maker’s preference is used. The process takes about six weeks.

For applications over £15,000 the projects are appraised against a criteria, assessed and scored. This process takes a little longer, around 12 weeks.

There are no fixed deadlines, it is a rolling programme so if an application is unsuccessful there is an opportunity to reapply immediately although the application should have been developed according to the feedback received from the Arts Council. It is worth bearing this in mind when applying for funding so that and additional six or 12 weeks can be allowed before the start of the project.

Money will usually be paid in stages and if the monitoring is paid attention to, the rest of the funding may not be paid.

Roots and Wings

Recently we had visit from Michael Barnes-Wynters (Barney) to tell us about Roots and Wings. It is a ten year programme, funded by Arts Council England, to bring art to people who don’t usually engage with it.

Although Roots and Wings doesn’t support students and is specifically for residents of Hull, I did find our discussion quite interesting. Barney spoke about ‘Go See’ a fund that assists members of the public as well as artists in being able to go and see arts events across the UK. He also recommended a networking event called Nourishment , an event that invites artists with a connection to Hull to speak in an intimate and relaxed setting.

Barney mentioned a workshop that the Arts Council is going to host in the Library next week, saying that people in Humberside rarely apply for arts council funding so we may find it beneficial to find out how to complete the application process if we want funding for projects in the future. I thought this was a good idea, so I have booked to go along.

Barney also went on to talk about a number of projects he has been involved in, supported or simply thought we might be interested in: