The Creative Project

6 Project Descriptions

Crafting Your Story

woman drafting scroll (with concept of iterations)


In this chapter, you learn how to…

  • Develop a clear, concise, and compelling narrative that articulates your proposed project.
  • Connect your work as an artist and any collaborators with your proposed project.
  • Articulate your project in an authentic and cohesive statement that includes the what, why, who, and how.

Within every grant application, you will be asked to articulate your project in detail. Granting organizations may refer to this information in different ways. Here are a few examples you may encounter: project description, statement of grant purpose, executive summary, or project summary. Regardless of the nomenclature, your goal for this section of the proposal is the same. Your statement should meet the following criteria:

  • Outline the overarching goal(s) of the project.
  • Create a compelling argument as to why your idea is worthy of funding support.
  • Describe the role(s) of any collaborators, if applicable.
  • Connect you and your mission with the project.
  • Provide an overview of proposed outcomes and impact of the project.

When done effectively, the project description clearly communicates your project to the reader and encourages further interest in you, your project, and what is possible. More importantly, with every step of this process, you want to consider how this project aligns with who you are as an artist, how it connects directly with where you are headed in your creative process, and how these points of intersection support the mission and vision of the grantor. Not only will this level of thought and creativity in your proposal engage the reader, it will also resonate with the funder.

Just as every project you develop is unique, so are the requirements of each grant. You need to understand what the specific requirements are for the application you are considering. While some grant applications measure by word or character count and others by page length, part of your job in any grant application is to understand those constraints and deliver prose that is engaging no matter the length.

As you develop your project description, keep these two questions in mind:

  • If you can say it convincingly in 750 words, can you find a way to state it in 250 words?
  • If you can outline your project in a sentence, where can you take the reader over the course of a page?

This is your challenge—to find a variety of methods that allow you to persuade the reader to be curious about your project and you.

Artists in Action

“I think the hardest part for me is still the fine detailed craftsmanship of the project description. I’m a person who always says too much. The hardest part for me is actually paring it down anytime there’s a character limit or a word limit or a page limit. I mean, there always is [a limit] because, you know, a panel doesn’t have time to read 10 pages of description for every proposal.”

– Adam Rosenblatt

Describing the Project: Four Essential Elements (What, Why, Who and How)

To begin to develop a project description, your approach should outline and connect four distinct elements for the reader:

  • What
  • Why
  • Who
  • How

This can be overwhelming. Common reactions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • “Where do I even begin?”
  • “How do I talk about this idea?”
  • “I can totally see it in my head, but how do I put this into words?”

Fear not! In this section, we break down these four essential components to provide you with the fundamental building blocks of your project description. This approach will provide a framework that allows you, with a bit of creativity, to develop a compelling narrative that is clear, concise, and persuasive.

An important point about you, your ideas, and the reader: The only person that understands your project is you.

Never assume that “they’ll get it.” They won’t (Highstein, 1997). Your reader is reviewing your grant application alongside dozens of others. They are probably tired, distracted, overworked, and worst of all . . . hungry. They may not be artists or have expertise in your field.

Help the future you—be clear, be detailed, and make the text engaging.

So let’s get to work mining your brain for the details.

Start by getting organized with the information you know so far about your project. Don’t worry about writing eloquent paragraphs just yet. First, make an outline or list so you have all your key points in one place.


This is where you define, in prose, exactly what the project will be. The language you use to describe the project should make it possible for the reader to envision your idea. If you are struggling with where to begin, start by describing the process of implementing the proposed idea—take the reader behind the scenes. Trust that you know where you’re going, so you can tell us how you’ll get there.


What is the inspiration, idea, or storyline of the project? Think about your reader. Help them understand why you are motivated to realize this idea of yours.

  • Why are you driven to take this on?
  • Why is this project important or impactful for your community?
  • Why is the project integral to your artistic mission?

Remember, this is an incredible opportunity to highlight how the project connects with you and your artistic mission. (Refer to Chapter 2: Your Artistry and Values[1] if you’ve skipped ahead or need a refresher.)


List everyone who plays a significant role in the creation or implementation of the project: collaborators, choreographers, ensembles, soloists, directors, producers, audio engineers, videographers, set designers, etc.

  • Who are those people and how are they contributing to the project?
  • What makes their roles essential?
  • Why are they the right people for this project?


You have captured what the project will be, why it needs to happen, and who is involved. The final element of this puzzle is how the audience will experience your work. It could be an installation, a video, a live performance, a film, a curated gallery show for one person—the possibilities are endless. No matter the mode or format of interaction for the audience, you need to clearly define the final goal or outcome of the project.

Once you have this core information recorded, you can start to connect your ideas. Be sure to account for any specific grant guidelines. Based on those guidelines, make an outline. This will make your writing process easier. An outline helps you visualize the structure and organization of your description and ensures you include the essentials required by the grantor. When you’re deciding how to organize your information, consider what basics the reader needs first to understand the nitty gritty details you might expand on later. Ultimately, the goal is to create a compelling and persuasive narrative in your own voice that both intrigues and informs readers.

Artists in Action

“Almost every grant is asking the same question. So the more preparation you have in the beginning, the faster each grant goes. You just get better and better at it as it goes, as time goes on.”

– Alysia Lee

Connecting You to Your Project

With the foundational components of your project firmly in hand, it’s time to explore ways of connecting you directly to the project (Beeching, 2010). This can mean only one thing—it’s about to get personal.

The key to creating a compelling narrative is finding the link(s) or connection(s) between your personal mission, your work as an artist, and your project proposal. This will be different for everyone!

The more closely you can bring these elements together, the stronger your proposal becomes. Projects that align with the values of the artist create a sense of inevitability for the reader (Creative Capital, 2019). The proposal quickly moves from just another grant application to the next logical and necessary step in the artist’s development. Hopefully, this motivates the reader to move the application forward in the review process.

Now that the key to creating alignment is clear, you may have the following concerns:

  • How do we apply it to our own writing?
  • What are the points of intersection between our mission statement and the project description?
  • How do we connect the dots for our audience?

You need to cross-reference our mission statement with our project description. There’s data in everything you have written.

To get started, review your notes and ask these questions:

  • Can you identify common themes in the goals or potential outcomes of your mission statement and the what from your project description?
  • Is the why of your project description reflected in the why of your mission statement?
  • How do your collaborators and their values align with your mission statement?
  • Do the skills needed to implement your project reflect your strengths and interests?

Personal Goals, Experiences, and Values

Take a moment to consider how your personal goals, experience, and values align with your project and its impact. When reviewing your mission statement and draft project description side by side, evaluate and consider these prompts:

  • What are the patterns you observe?
  • What are the differences?
  • Is your artistic identity reflected appropriately (or at all) in how you are describing your project right now?

Here are some additional things to look for when comparing your mission statement and draft project description:

  • Overlap/repetition. Do you use common evocative words or phrases in both texts?
  • Distinctive passages. Can you find a connection between the larger themes of the texts?
  • Past experience. Do they highlight artistic or other skills that prepare you well to execute your project?
  • Personality. How does your personality come across in these texts?
  • Tone. How does your project description align with how you speak to others about your work? How does it align with your branding?

It’s worth mentioning that you don’t need pages of examples connecting the texts. Choose one to three points to help “set the stage” for the reader. This might end up being only one or two sentences in one paragraph or even a few key phrases woven throughout your project description.

There is no right or wrong way to complete this kind of work. You choose the degree of context or personal connection with the project proposal that you share. As always, let your project, mission, and artistic background dictate the points of intersection between your personal values and your project. Stay aware of those intersections so you can draw connections where they are appropriate.

Dig Deeper in Exercise 6-1. Review several examples of how different artists present themselves and their work.


Artists in Action

“The projects that are likely to be funded are the projects that you’re going to do anyway, that really, you’re not waiting for a paycheck. That’s not the thing that’s holding you back, because it’s connected to what you want to do. You have a passion for it. The idea is strong enough. You’ve got enough pieces in place, that it’s going to help, but you’re going to make it happen regardless of what you’re up against.”

– Brad Balliett

Building a Description—Examples in Practice

Keeping in mind the four essential elements of a project description, let’s look at an example. In this section we cover the following elements:

  • Analyze a rough draft project description.
  • Review comments and corrections on the draft.
  • Read a revised project description.

This is a fictional grantee and project. To build this example, we used the guidelines for Peabody’s Launch Grant.[2] These selection criteria were modeled in part on the Greater Baltimore Culture Alliance’s 2017 Rubys (2017) award:

  • Artistic merit and skill demonstrated in the work samples
  • Feasibility of completing project based on how it will be shown publicly, the identification and alignment of programming with the target audience, project budget, and timeline
  • A prerecorded video proposal pitch that addresses the project, the external partner(s), target audience, audience programming, how the grant will help facilitate the realization of this project, and how your project aligns with the values of this funding source
  • Creativity of the project as an innovative new direction for the artist’s work or a significant deepening of the artist’s current artistic practice

Review the project description below for any issues with the content.

Original Project Description

Project: Canyon Chorus Project

Artist: Ben Cantantino

Canyon Chorus will be a program of 45 minutes, performed by choral ensemble in a location in the superstition wilderness outside of Phoenix, AZ. The area is visually stunning: smooth floors weathered by water, soaring walls rising far above. We’ll take advantage of the live, wild acoustic and the clear spring weather in Arizona. The program will feature a composition of mine created for the space as well as a commission from a local composer. We’ll fill out the remaining 25 minutes program with varied selections of repertoire chosen to suit the space.

As a choral conductor and composer, I am constantly attuned to the acoustics of spaces to create music. While much of my career has been centered on creating music in typical spaces, like churches and concert halls, I have started to build new opportunities with Acoustx, the 6-member vocal ensemble I lead, to perform in non-traditional spaces, such as warehouses, water tanks, and barns. While often acoustically motivated, these performances have created connections between repertoire, space, and community that have amplified our performances, creating experiences greater than the sum of their parts.

I’m equally devoted to the outdoors and a voracious hiker. The connection to the outdoors is so often lost in music. Over three years of hiking in the southwest, my ears have perked up by several spaces that would lend themselves to musical performance. Given that there are no instruments that would need to be hiked in, a vocal ensemble seems like an ideal way to integrate music into the wilderness.

Attendees will need to make the 3.5-mile hike to the canyon. Tentatively scheduled for March 23 & 24, 2024, we are likely to have excellent weather, with a low chance of precipitation and not overly hot. This will make the live performance itself an exclusive, galvanizing, experience, with music in contrast to the magical setting. Including a planned dress rehearsal to ensure that we are ready to capture good footage, and to allow multiple groups to experience this, without having a significant impact on the area. I’m also hopeful hikers out for the day may also join us by happenstance.

We will bring along someone to capture the performance, to use as material for establishing a similar series going forward. Using a multi camera setup will create high-quality captures of the performance. The video will allow us to advocate for future performances in different locations, perhaps with gear sponsorships for the future. For those unable to attend, the video will also allow many people to view the performance, get excited about the outdoors, and ideally, interest in the art of Indigenous communities of the local area.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt supported by art and the outdoors, but these things were rarely connected. These two elements of life feel so separated. Canyon Chorus aims to bring these together, while also being an exciting next step for myself and Acoustx in our exploration of the relation of space and sound. This also follows market trends—limited attendance events are a great way to create interest. Additionally, layered, multifaceted experiences are some of the best performing events in our industry.

Reviewing the Original Project Description

Build an Argument

The rhetorical structure of this proposal needs some improvement. The goal of your grant proposal is to make a persuasive argument. Break your proposal down to the main ideas, think about how those ideas build on each other to support the argument for your project, and then reorder your writing.

Be very cautious about using communities you don’t identify with as a reason for your project. Have some serious and introspective conversations with and guidance from community members so that you can ensure an appropriate design.

Follow the Grant Structure

This proposal lacks structure and comes across as a wall of text. This is more difficult for a reviewer to process. Sometimes grant guidelines will include prompts or topics you need to cover. Use those prompts and follow the structure for them if needed. Even if the grant doesn’t have explicit requirements, breaking up your description with section headers can help reviewers find what they need. Examples include:

  • Introduce yourself first. The proposal launches straight into the project idea with no background.
  • Include section headers. Help the reader categorize what they are reading. Section headers could include “About Us,” “Collaborators,” or “What’s Next.”

Be Specific

This draft could use more detail about who the collaborators are on the project, the reasoning behind choices you are making for the project, and how the project connects to your past work and experience. Areas that could benefit from additional detail include the following:

  • Where will the concert be exactly? What restrictions will the location place on the project?
  • Who is the local composer? Any other collaborations important to this project?
  • What is your connection to the Superstition Wilderness? Why have you chosen it specifically for the project?

Polish the Prose

Once these broader content and structure concerns are addressed, this proposal needs additional revisions to grammar, punctuation, and phrasing to remove distractions and make the writing clearer and more concise. Aim for simple but correct and clear language to communicate your ideas. Examples include the following:

  • Superstition Wilderness should be capitalized; multi-camera needs a hyphen; etc.
  • Several sections are wordy and could be more concise, leaving room for relevant details (e.g., “Canyon Chorus aims to bring these together, while also being an exciting next step for myself and Acoustx in our exploration of the relation of space and sound.”)

Below is a revised project description with these revisions incorporated.

Revised Project Description

Project: Canyon Chorus—Lower La Barge Box Canyon: Project Description

Artist: Ben Cantantino

Who I Am

As a choral conductor and composer, much of my career has been centered on creating music in typical performance spaces like churches and concert halls. However, I have started to build new opportunities with Acoustx, the 6-member vocal ensemble I lead, to perform in non-traditional spaces, such as warehouses, water tanks, and barns. While often acoustically motivated, these performances have created connections between repertoire, space, and community that have amplified our performances, creating experiences greater than the sum of their parts.

I’m also a voracious hiker. The connection to the outdoors is so often lost in music—we feel we need closed, controlled spaces to create and consume performances. Over three years of hiking in the southwest, my ears have made note of spaces that would lend themselves to musical performance. Given that there are no instruments that would need to be hiked in, a vocal ensemble seems like an ideal way to integrate music into the wilderness.

What I Propose

Canyon Chorus will be a choral program of 45 minutes, performed by Acoustx in La Barge Box Canyon in the Superstition Wilderness outside of Phoenix, Arizona. We’ll take advantage of the live acoustics of the canyon and the clear spring weather in Arizona. The program will feature a new 10-minute composition of mine, created for the space, a new 10-minute commission from a local composer, and a varied selection of other repertoire suited to the space to fill out the remaining 25 minutes.

For the commission, we plan to work with Native American Composer Apprentice Project,[3] an Arizona initiative that premieres works of Native students from communities in Arizona. We’ve started conversations about how we can further their mission, learn from the work they are doing, and provide a performance opportunity for the project.

How We’ll Share

Two public performances are tentatively scheduled for March 23 & 24, 2024. To comply with National Wilderness rules, attendance will be limited. We’re in early conversations with the park service about what exact requirements would apply, but we are hoping for about 25 audience members for each performance. This will make the live performance itself an exclusive experience, contrasting music and natural space.

We will also capture audio and video of both performances. This will create important promotional material for Acoustx, while also allowing a wider audience to experience a version of the performance and creating recordings for our composer collaborator. We plan to use this video as a pitch to future funders, including hiking equipment companies, who might be willing to partner on future performances. For those unable to attend, the video will also allow many people to view the performance, get excited about the outdoors, and engage with the artistic work of the Indigenous communities of their local area.

Why Now

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt supported by art and the outdoors. Canyon Chorus aims to bring these experiences together, while also being an exciting next step for myself and Acoustx in our exploration of the relation of space and sound. The projected number of audience members also follows market trends–limited attendance events are a great way to create interest. Additionally, layered, multifaceted experiences (such as the Candlelight Concerts[4] popular in many cities) are commercially some of the best performing events in our industry. Canyon Chorus will expand on these trends not just to create art, but to build connection to our natural surroundings and community.

Notice how the revised project description clearly addresses the what, why, who, and how questions, revealing the impact of the project. In a one-page proposal you will need to decide which details to include and which to leave out.

  • Which details about the Canyon Chorus project feed your excitement?
  • Where would you want more information?

Navigating the Process

All components of your project description need to tie together and align with the goals of the grant organization or funder. You are working to show you are well-qualified, competent, and organized in your project. Here are a few points to consider as you begin this process to keep you on track.

Do Your Research

Investigate the funding opportunity to make sure you and the grant organization are a good fit. Does your creative work and your artistic mission align with the values of the funder? It takes a lot of effort and time to develop a grant proposal. Make sure you meet the eligibility requirements, your project aligns with the mission, and that your partners and collaborators are on board to be part of the process.

Use Clear Language

Take the reviewer on a step-by-step journey through the review criteria. Make it easy for the reviewer to navigate through every piece of your application. Use headings that match the grant criteria to guide the reader.

Follow Formatting Guidelines

Pay attention to the details regarding page limits and formatting (margins, fonts, and type size). Make sure you submit every requested piece of the grant application. The requests are actually requirements. An incomplete application will be eliminated and not considered—no matter how interesting the project may be.

Seek Feedback

Ask someone unfamiliar with your project to review your application. Consider sharing your proposal materials and review criteria with two to three colleagues. Feedback and dialogue are also often available from the funding organization, even before the grant is submitted. Reach out to the funder—building that relationship is an important step that is often overlooked. You can gather key information about the funder’s goals, and best of all, funders want to help you succeed!

Meet Deadlines

In grant applications, deadlines are critical. Funders typically will not offer flexibility on submission deadlines. In fact, that’s the first hurdle created to remove applicants. Late submissions are rarely accepted. Give yourself more time than you think you need to prepare your application and solicit feedback so that you can put your best quality work forward and submit on time.

Recycle and Resubmit

With a bit of revision, material created for one grant can be repurposed for future proposals, either to the same funder or a different opportunity. With most grants, there is an opportunity to get feedback from the reviewer, which can be incredibly helpful to improve your next submission. The more often funders see your work, the more likely it is that opportunities will come your way, either directly through the grant or through connections and relationships that grow out of the application and review process.

Dig Deeper Exercises

Exercise 6-1. Artist Awards
Check out the Baker Artist Awards website[5] to review how different artists present themselves and their work.
  • Which examples resonate with you? Select three artists.
  • How might you translate some of these ideas to your own work?

Key Takeaways

The project description requirements of every grant vary. What remains relevant is finding an approach that connects you to your project. Regardless of the word count or page limit, finding these points of alignment helps create a connection between you and the reader.

Remember, you may not win the first time you apply for a grant. Many seasoned grant writing artists find that it takes two to three tries before they are successful with a particular grant opportunity.

Like our work as artists, it takes practice. As you work on developing your narrative, remember the following:

  • Identify the what, why, who, and how of the project.
  • Be intentional in connecting you and your work to the project.
  • Show the reader your project is the next logical step in your artistic evolution.
  • Tell your story with your audience in mind.
  • Find points of alignment with potential funders.
  • Compile your materials in a cohesive way to present a unified narrative.

Artist Interviews

Below are excerpts from artist interviews conducted by Zane Forshee. Full artist bios and interviews are available in About the Artists. This section includes the following artists and topics:

  • Lara Pellegrinelli on Making a Compelling Case for a Story
  • Jessica Satava on Approaching Artistic Projects

Lara Pellegrinelli on Making a Compelling Case for a Story

How do you make a compelling case for a story?

ZF: I’m wondering if you could talk about what it is that you look for to make a compelling case for a story. I know a lot of times you’re putting a pitch together for that piece or that area that you want to develop.

LP: Sure, it can be a lot of things. I have, of course, my own personal interests. As a writer, I’ve focused on jazz and new music, I’ve focused on jazz vocals, I’ve focused on issues of jazz and gender, but also, I think narrative qualities in what projects are, are really helpful and when artists have compelling personal stories. When I’m thinking about narrative, I mean that. I’ll say, someone can make incredibly compelling music, beautiful music, profound music, I’m the type of writer who thinks “that’s great, hear the music.” I don’t know if I necessarily have to write about that. There are reviewers who’ll say, “Oh, well, I can capture that, I can put that down.” I don’t usually review. I mean, in the past I have reviewed, but it’s not something that I really do anymore or even really see myself doing into the future.

But when I hear that an artist, for example, I’m going to go back more than 10 years, Fred Hersch, the pianist, who was one of the first openly gay jazz musicians. He went into a coma and he made a project called Coma Dreams. That tells a story by itself and for me as a writer, that’s something that’s easy to latch on to and to want to help tell that story.

So, those are things that I would say that I look for in projects that I’m going to pitch and also people who are doing things that have just never been done before. We still haven’t had that much coverage in jazz or classical music about projects that relate to the environment or projects in jazz that are related to gender, that has been really slow to happen. It’s still such a male dominated area. So, things like that. When I feel like there are stories that have yet to be told and the kinds of art that people are making or who people are, bringing themselves into that work, I think it’s really important.

How do you help an artist unpack their story and make it clear?

ZF: Could we talk for a second about, and I bring this up because a lot of our students are creating projects that have a personal connection to them. When you are kind of helping that student or that artist unpack that story that they’re telling, what are the things you’re thinking about or what are the elements that you’re trying to distill it down to so that there’s a clear through line for the reader?

LP: I think everyone has to start by asking the big question, which is the ‘why.’ I feel like when I’m doing work, that’s always the question that I’m trying to answer. It is, why is this person, or these people if it’s a collective, why are these people making this music in this place and at this time?

If you can answer that question, then you have everything that you need. So, asking yourself the why and being very clear on the why, I think is the starting point. That’s that kernel, that kernel of belief and I’m stealing that question from Christopher Small (1927–2011) from his 1998 book, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening. That’s the central question in the book. For ethnomusicologists, that’s where I feel like my ethnomusicology training comes in is in asking that big why question within a cultural and temporal context.

If you can think through these prompts:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • What is the meaning?
  • What is the cultural value?
  • How is this in dialogue with what I see happening around me in the world at this moment?

That is super important. If you can articulate those things for yourself, then it should be possible to start articulating them for others. Then the rest is the craft of trying to put it on the page. Does that make sense?

ZF: That makes complete sense. So, understanding what’s driving you behind that project.

LP: Yeah, every single person is different and we may think, well this has been done before. We might not feel confident in the art that we’re making as something original or something new, but if it comes from you, if it really comes from who you are as a person, there is no one like you. I think automatically that becomes compelling. As highly trained artists, we might be dismissive and think, oh, that’s going to be too fluffy or too vague or too simple but a lot of what drives what we do is simple and that it’s joyful, or it’s love or it’s meant to connect in a certain way, it’s human.

We don’t need anything to be ultra-sophisticated when it’s coming from in here, that’s where it needs… I mean, it can be. I’ve seen lots of work that is also, we’ll say ultra-sophisticated and very thinky and we can do that, we can make that kind of stuff, too, but I don’t think we should be dismissive of things just because there’s something plain or very simple or genuine in the impulse that is starting them.

Every person I think expresses that in a different way and that’s kind of the beauty of it from where I sit is seeing all these different incarnations of what it is that people do. We’re still finding new things in Bach and Beethoven. It’s there, you just have to be strong enough and confident enough to just be willing to be vulnerable and put that out there.

Jessica Satava on Approaching Artistic Projects

How do you approach artistic projects and seeking funding?

ZF: How do you approach thinking about these artistic projects and going after that funding and galvanizing a team to go after something in a direction–like how do you do that?

  • How do you approach that?
  • Do you find one person you want to partner with?
  • Do you find a team?
  • Do you see it individually and then share it with everyone and try and get them on board?
  • What has that process been like for you?

JS: Well, usually the ideas for collaborations always start with a conversation and are usually pretty organic, right? You’re sitting there having coffee with somebody that you want to get to know and collaborate with like just kind of generally. And then the ideas start to percolate for all of us.

What I found is that as important as collaboration is, and as much as everyone wants to do it, and as much as everybody wants to talk about it, there has to be one person who is willing to do the work of driving the collaboration, providing the structure and the framework and doing the hard work of coordinating all the voices. That’s the hardest work of collaboration.

Finding ways forward when agendas start to rear their heads, but it is so worth it. And the fact of the matter is, it is 100, well, I shouldn’t say 100%, that’s hyperbole, right? But I think that collaborations always have a better chance of getting funded than people who are just going out on their own.

Can you describe how you collaborate with others?

ZF: Can you talk about some of your experiences? I’m going to bet you’re that galvanizing force in your work.

  • What does that look like for you sometimes?
  • What does that feel like?
  • How do you do it?

JS: It’s really fun and really uncomfortable all the same time, because it means that you have to give up control. Musicians like us, classical musicians, our whole world is wrapped up in the notes on the page and our ability to recreate them and not really stray very far away from what that looks like. A lot of us have that type A kind of personality where I want to show up and do my thing and I want to be responsible for myself and all those other people, like they just didn’t practice.

I’m sorry you didn’t practice, but here I am and I’m prepared, you know? That kind of thinking anyway, I hope I’m not overstepping here…. I know us, I know us very well and that thinking is not helpful when it comes to collaboration.

So, I guess what I found is that often things will just come to kind of like, they lose a little momentum, and somebody has to be the one to get on the phone and say, oh my gosh, I just had this great idea. I know how we’re going to get this moving again.

There can be conflict between the collaborators and it’s easy to feel resentment when you feel like these people don’t want this as much as you do, and they aren’t working as hard to see it through. That involves being willing to say, I set my own ego aside and I need to just stay focused on what the most important thing is here. That’s the goal of getting funding to solve a problem through this project. The community and the problems we’re solving, the ways that we’re serving them is the focus.

It’s just part of the process that crazy stuff is going to happen and you have to get the phone and sort through people’s problems and their egos and find ways forward across all of those obstacles. That’s why applying for grants as a collaborative effort is so valuable because we all learn so much about ourselves and either figure out that, okay, maybe that wasn’t really a natural collaboration and we’re not going to do that again next year, right? Or that this has been transformational for absolutely everybody involved and we’re so glad we did it and let’s keep it going and expand it.


Baker Artist Awards (2022). Baker artist awardees.

Beeching, A. M. (2010). Beyond talent. Oxford University Press.

Candlelight. (2022). Candlelight concerts.

Creative Capital. (2019, May 9). How to write a grant proposal with confidence: Translating your ideas on paper.

Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (2017). Rubys: Artist project grant 2017 grant guidelines.

Highstein, E. (1997). Making music in looking glass land. Concert Artists Guild.

New Music USA. (2021). Native American composer apprentice project.

Peabody LAUNCHPad. (2022). Launch grant.



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The Path to Funding Copyright © 2022 by John Hopkins University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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