The Creative Project

9 Project Viability

Demonstrating Why You and Why Now

successful artist with medals


In this chapter, you learn how to…

  • Explain the value of showcasing your work.
  • List strategies and benefits to consistent documentation of your artistic work.
  • Articulate the difference between a resume and curriculum vitae (CV).
  • Integrate your previous artistic work effectively in your promotional materials and applications.

So far, we have covered many topics:

  • Developing your artist statement
  • Drafting a project description
  • Defining your target audience
  • Creating a project budget
  • Preparing a project timeline

Take a moment to pat yourself on the back. You have invested time and effort in yourself and your ideas. Many people talk about creating something or starting a new project. You have separated yourself from the pack by thinking about and building these materials. Fortunately, this process is repeatable and gets more “doable” with each attempt. As with most things in life, the hardest part is taking the first step.

The materials outlined above (artist statement, project description, target audience, project budget, project timeline) help tell the story of you and your project. In this chapter, we explore how your résumé and work samples provide the opportunity to strengthen the alignment between your previous work experiences and artistic projects and success with your proposed project.

When thoughtfully connected to your proposal, both your résumé and work samples serve as powerful tools of persuasion to funders. Additionally, they help you stand out amongst other applicants and give the grant reviewer the chance to experience your artistic world.

Establishing Your Credibility

To begin, let’s discuss a few tools that can support your application, including your résumé, curriculum vitae (CV), bio, and website.

If you don’t have all of these, that is okay. This is an opportunity to take inventory of what you have so that you can develop missing elements in the future. Both our artistry and our portfolios are works in progress, and we all have areas we want to improve. This is a chance to gain clarity as to areas in which you might want to grow.

Here we define each component and how they can support your work in a grant application. The first obstacle for grant applicants is distinguishing between a résumé and a CV. The application may request either and you need to know which to use and how to set it up to support your project.


Résumés  are used for many reasons—to request auditions or apply to competitions, summer festivals, scholarship applications, grants, and teaching positions at all levels. Your résumé provides the reader with an overview of your most relevant qualifications, skills, and experiences (Beeching, 2010). It’s an opportunity to detail the highlights of your background that are specifically relevant to the situation. This means you will likely create a different résumé for each application, each tailored to the specific context. Résumés are typically limited to one page, or occasionally two.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A CV (curriculum vitae or “course of life”) is a comprehensive document that provides more extensive documentation of your experience in a format comparable to that of a resume, but it goes into greater detail and typically has no page limit. CVs are commonly used to apply for academic positions.

Artist Bio

Now, let’s talk about effective artist bios. Perhaps it is easier to start with what a bio isn’t. A bio is not merely a list of your accomplishments or a chronology of your life history. Instead, an artist bio is a snapshot of you in text. It’s an opportunity for readers to learn who you are as an artist and why you do what you do.

A bio serves many purposes, but at its core it is a marketing tool in paragraph form that highlights what makes you stand out as an artist. It gives audiences a way to feel connected with you as a person. This becomes incredibly helpful for presenters when they are making a case for you to their audiences. It also helps the media speak about you effectively and, if you’re working with management, provides talking points for them with potential presenters, partners, or future collaborators.


This brings us to the final item on our list—the website. A website is a piece of digital real estate. All artists need professional websites to present their work to the world (Herstand, 2017). No matter what your individual career path holds, a website is where potential audience members, students, collaborators, presenters, or donors can learn about you and your work. When you meet someone or interact with their work, what do you do? You search online to learn more. A website offers you complete control over how you share your story and work with the world.

Cultivating Your Professional Materials

Now that we have defined these components, take a moment to consider what elements you have and what you might need to create or revise. Let’s circle back to the earlier point about cultivating those materials to support your project.

With any project proposal, your continued goal is to align your mission and past or current artistic work with the project. This is also the case with your résumé, CV, bio, and website. Each grant has specific requirements regarding these materials. A project description and résumé may be requested, or you might be asked to submit a project description with a link to your website.

In addition to ensuring clarity and clear organization, it is important that you align your professional materials to support the project. For example, this means that for a new interdisciplinary work, you highlight your past interdisciplinary work on both your résumé and website. You might consider emphasizing the collaborators, the role you played in the project, and a digital link to access the work. This helps the grant panelist understand the type of work you do and it also builds confidence that you have a record of success with project development. It is how you demonstrate your expertise or specific skills relevant to the project. The more you can connect and show successful outcomes of past projects, the greater the chances of obtaining support for your current ideas.

Dig Deeper in Exercise 9-1. Explore resources to help you build and refine your professional materials.


Artists in Action

“Anything that you put out is a reflection on you.”

– Wendel Patrick

“I think relating [what you do] to an artistic process and project development, really being able to communicate what the values are, your goals, and really thinking about how what you do resonates with a donor, whether it’s a corporation, a foundation, or individuals. Because you’re really talking to individuals, regardless of whether or not you’re doing institutional fundraising. It still is very much about this relationship.”

– Jeannie Howe

Showcasing Your Work

Your résumé, CV, bio, and website are all powerful tools for you to showcase skills and experiences that support your proposal. Now let’s turn our attention to your most powerful secret weapon—work samples. Work samples offer a moment when your project can truly connect with the panel. They serve as a vehicle to build enthusiasm for your work as an artist and display your creativity in new and interesting ways.

Works Samples Overview

Each grant you apply for will have specific requirements regarding your work samples, and part of your job is to understand what you can and cannot submit to support your application. As we see from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance Rubys application, one common request from funders is that at least one work sample should relate directly to the project. Keep in mind this does not need to be a polished video or finished product, and can be a draft version. Below are more examples we see from the Rubys application:

  • Script or book synopsis
  • Storyboard
  • Installation layout
  • Draft drawings
  • Thematic outline
  • Rehearsal audio or video

Note that many organizations require current work samples from within a three- to five-year span. Plan to continually update your portfolio to showcase more recent work.

The Power of Work Samples

Once you submit a grant proposal, it ends up in a pile on someone’s desk or in their inbox. During the review process, evaluators often look at many applications in a short period of time. Often, they may be reviewing proposals that address similar issues or share aesthetic similarities.

As Creative Capital notes:

“Your entire application—including words, images, audio, and video—is an exercise in persuasion. As an applicant, your job is to show the evaluators that you have a terrific and innovative idea, and you have the capacity and experience to pull off that idea. Essentially, you want to prove to the granting organization that they would be missing out by not joining you on your extraordinary creative journey. Great work samples will help make this happen” (Creative Capital, 2018).

By choosing relevant, high-quality work samples and presenting them professionally, you can engage reviewers, draw their full attention to your project, and build a better case to persuade them that your work deserves funding.

Dig Deeper in Exercise 9-2. Read Austin Kleon’s article called “Three Reasons to Show Your Work.”

Capturing great documentation of your work is often a defining factor in securing funding for your project (Creative Capital, 2018). This does not mean that you must invest thousands of dollars in equipment. Your smartphone is an incredibly powerful tool that can provide more than enough multimedia footage, images, and sounds to support your application.

What often separates a great application from a good one is the artist’s ability to feature thoughtfully-selected work samples that allow the grantor to understand the artist’s work and see the potential for “what could be” with a given project. Just as you have developed your skills as an artist, approach how you capture and select your work samples with the same level of interest and care.

The strongest work samples will capture your sensibility and areas of exploration. For evaluators who don’t know you, your work sample is your work—it’s the single way they will experience it (Creative Capital, 2018).

Artists in Action

“There’s really nothing that speaks to the project’s capacity and to your ability to put on projects [more] than work samples and audio/video score samples. Whatever it is, it is strong irrefutable evidence of your past [ability] to get it done. So, I made the conscious choice with a couple of projects to invest heavily in making sure that the documentation was as good as I could possibly make it. So far, it’s really paid off.”

Adam Rosenblatt

Document, Document, Document: It’s All Valuable

Now that we’ve shared the power of work samples, let’s discuss how you can avoid struggling to find materials at the last minute before applying. As mentioned above, capturing great documentation of your work is often a defining factor in securing funding for your project (Creative Capital, 2018). One of the most effective strategies you can implement is to build a practice of capturing your artistic process at regular intervals.

More and more artists are using video, audio, and images to perform, promote, and distribute their work. A secondary goal of this resource lies in developing your skills to create, edit, and distribute professional materials yourself. Self-producing your own media has become increasingly easy as software applications streamline the process and lower the learning curve for creating attractive videos and clear recordings.

As your career grows, you need to capture images, drafts, or short videos of ideas you are developing. These items do not need to be polished or perfect. The goal is to capture your process and utilize the tools you have readily available to document your progress. You can do this daily, weekly, or on some other timeframe that works for your schedule. The most important step is that you begin to intentionally capture your work with consistency.

In addition, consider a mix of formats, like video, audio, and still images. Aim for a wide variety of multimedia materials. This collection provides options that you can pull from to highlight where you are in your process and to demonstrate aspects of your current proposal. By intentionally documenting what you’re doing as an artist, you will amass a library of work samples which you can continually draw upon to bring the viewer behind the scenes to experience your work in a more intimate way (Flynn, 2019).

Dig Deeper in Exercise 9-1. Explore resources and tips to create media and work samples.

Connecting the Dots

  • What if you don’t have content yet that directly represents your proposed project idea?
  • Isn’t the need for funding to create your project the whole point of applying for a grant to move forward?

This is a common question that emerges as artists begin to develop skills in project funding. Let’s consider some ways to work around this common challenge.

“It’s possible that some of the work you are pitching in an application won’t be far enough in development for you to provide documentation. Don’t worry—you can use previous work samples to help the evaluators imagine what your future work will look like. The work samples should build a bridge between what you’ve done before and what you propose to do in the future. […]

Do not assume that the evaluators will make the connection between your past and future work, however. Instead, help them connect the dots where you can by filling out descriptions of the work” (Creative Capital, 2018).

Let’s look at two projects where artists do not have work samples directly related to their project proposal but are still able to communicate the potential of the project: Sprocket and Árabe.

Example: Sprocket

A new work for the Akropolis Reed Quintet composed by Steven Snowden, Sprocket[1] joins reed quintet and a rideable percussion bicycle.

Project Overview

“A new work for the Akropolis Reed Quintet composed by Steven Snowden, Sprocket joins reed quintet and a rideable percussion bicycle designed and fabricated by Detroit resident and Kresge Arts Fellow, Juan Martinez, and performed on by local experimental percussionist, Zac Brunell. Like Juan’s other larger-than-life, rideable public art pieces, his percussion bike will use pedal power to create numerous sounds while having three wheels for stability. As the percussionist pedals the bike (while fixed in place or not) a set of custom-designed and fitted levers and gears will create several effects that change depending on how fast the bike is pedaled. Juan and Steven will work collaboratively alongside Akropolis and Zac to determine what sounds the bike produces and how to incorporate them in Sprocket.”

Notice the concise and engaging language used to frame the project for the reader. The description manages to outline all the creative members of the project, their roles, and how the project will unfold for the target audience in four sentences—yes, four sentences. Brevity and clarity can be powerfully persuasive forces. In addition to the written text, the artists include supportive work samples. Again, observe how the Akropolis Reed Quintet[2]uses two specific yet varied work samples to help tell the story of their collaborators to give a sense of the potential work to the grant organization.

Juan Martinez, Metal Fabricator and Bicycle Artist

The first video in the “Project Media” section of the application focuses on Juan Martinez,[3] metal fabricator and bicycle artist. This 3-minute film brings the viewer into his world—his studio. The video captures his work, enthusiasm for what he does, and passion for sharing his art in his community. It tells a story and provides clear examples of what he creates.

Steve Snowden, Composer and Percussionist

The second video is Steve Snowden’s A Man with a Gun Lives Here,[4] a 10-minute work for three percussionists. There are two important points to observe regarding this video in the application:

  • The video displays the composers incorporation of unconventional materials to generate sounds for the piece and performers.
  • It doesn’t feature the applicants performing.

Why are these points important? First, the applicants highlight a video that shows the engaging approach of composer Steven Snowden and how he weaves elements of theatricality into his pieces. Again, this helps to create a stronger narrative around the proposed project for the grant evaluators. Second, this video reflects the composers innovative and playful approach towards percussive devices in his work. One particular moment that highlights this quality can be found at the 7:00 mark in the video, where Snowden has the percussionists moving a paper bag filled with ball bearings across the head of a bass drum to generate sounds for the piece.


With these two work samples and thoughtful writing, the applicants brought this project to life for the reader without creating or showing a single work sample that stems directly from the proposed project.

Example: Árabe

Middle Eastern immigrants have substantially influenced Mexican food, language, and architecture–but what about the music? Vocalist and composer Amanda Ekery[5] explored the musical influence Arab immigrants had in Northern Mexico with Árabe.[6]

Project Overview

“Middle Eastern immigrants have substantially influenced Mexican food, language, and architecture – but what about the music? The al pastor taco comes from the Arab shawarma in which meat is cooked vertically on a spit; over 4,000 Spanish words are of Arab descent; and many churches in Guadalajara are constructed in the style of the Moorish Empire. But what about the music? I am going to discover and research the musical influence Arab immigrants had in Northern Mexico through interviews with elders in my community and Dr. Alfaro Velcamp, working with musicologist/organologist Hannah Grantham, and composing and recording music for my 11-piece ensemble that is truly representative of who I am, informed by research and family tradition.”

Again, notice the clear questions that serve as the catalyst to succinctly define the objectives of the project in four sentences. The composer and primary researcher of this project, Amanda Ekery, thoughtfully outlines connections between Middle Eastern and Mexican cultures to contextualize the project inspiration and masterfully highlights her other research partners in the proposal to strengthen the research aspects of the project.

Keys With No Purpose

To support her project, Ekery shares the audio from one of her own compositions Keys With No Purpose[7] to display her ability to fuse composition with her penchant for research. This song elegantly aligns the Árabe proposal as it displays the applicant’s ability to create works influenced by research.

Some Short Songs

In the second video Some Short Songs,[8] Ekery shares the range of her compositional interests and abilities by including a highly contrasting work. In addition, Ekery frames both the first and second videos by outlining specific points regarding her work as a composer to support her application.


Lastly, Ekery submitted a research paper, “Syrian Female Musicians: The Last Hundred Years,” to demonstrate her “dedication and thoroughness when creating and executing a project.” Notice how Ekery continues to support her track record of success via these work samples to show the quality of her work and her ability to bring a project to fruition.


Using a well-crafted text that highlights Ekery’s desire to connect intersecting cultures, a sense of place, artistic inspiration, and musical innovation through research, the applicant provides an intriguing idea to the reader that is only strengthened by their choice of work sample that highlights their compositional skills.

With three work samples and thoughtful writing, the applicants brought this project to life for the reader without creating or showing a single work sample that stems directly from the proposed project.

These two artists’ applications successfully persuaded the funder to back them without a single work sample specifically related to their project. Without materials directly representing the future project, these artists chose to focus on the quality of their previous work, track record of success in standing up new projects, and alignment of their available work samples with the goals of the project proposal. Through thoughtful curation and by providing context within the work sample descriptions, they clearly demonstrated their artistic work and ability to successfully complete the project.

Dig Deeper in Exercise 9-3. Reflect on the two example projects discussed in this section.

Get Feedback

As with all projects, it is helpful to get feedback on your work samples from friends and colleagues before you apply. The perspectives of someone who knows your work well versus someone who has never experienced it before will differ greatly, so it is helpful to seek feedback from a wide range of people. Reviewing your project with someone else who has not been working on it is critical. They bring their own viewpoint to your work, and this can inform revisions you want to make before submitting your application (Creative Capital, 2018).

Artists in Action

“I don’t believe in inviting people to performances. Invite people to come and see the work happening. The concerts are fruit. Invite people to the planning sessions with your community. Invite them to the first rehearsal, when things are a little crazy but there’s a lot of excitement. Invite them to see things that are basically sweat events, right? Events where everyone is sweating. Invite them to those things.”

– Alysia Lee

“If you end up in a scenario where you have a funder who’s putting so many different constraints on the money for you to get it, you’ve got be willing to walk away. Find somebody who’s willing to actually work with you because they believe in your project, not because they’re trying to force your project into their mold.”

– Andrew Kipe

Putting Your Project in Context: Why Now?

The question “Why Now?” is frequently posed to artists as they approach a granting organization. In fact, this is one of the questions you were asked to address when you developed your project description. Like a boomerang, here it returns regarding your work samples.

This is your opportunity to reflect on your work samples and determine how well your selections align with your creative goals.

Step back from your application and review your work samples and project description.

  • Do you find alignment?
  • Do the materials support one another?
  • Do the materials present a clear narrative?

In the Sprocket and Árabe examples above, the materials strengthened the proposals by demonstrating the viability of the project and how it aligns with the trajectory of the artist’s creative path. Akropolis skillfully connected each work sample element back to the text and project’s objective of developing a new work by Steven Snowden for the Akropolis Reed Quintet and a rideable percussion bicycle. This thoughtful curation and alignment between their work, their partners, and the project goals creates a convincing application that connects all the dots for the potential funder. The same quality of alignment comes through with Ekery’s materials in that they tie directly to the personal connections that the artist establishes within the project overview. The text and video links directly back to the artist and the project itself to strengthen the overall proposal.

Every application provides different pathways and challenges to highlight your work. Your goal is to demonstrate how the proposed project aligns with where you are in your artistic journey. Just like everything in life that is rewarding, it takes practice. If you struggle to find an answer to “Why Now,” take a few steps back and review these three points:

What are the common threads or points of intersection between your mission, project, and audience? After you can answer these questions, you can confidently outline how your project is the next logical step in your artistic development.

Another point to consider as you create this outline, beyond why this is the right time for YOU to create this project, is why this is the right time for this project to exist in the world (Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, 2017). Once these elements are clear to you, you have a better chance of succinctly articulating them to the grant reviewer. Likewise, take the time to apply the same rigor of exploration to the materials that support the project proposal. Thoughtfully selected work samples serve as the strongest advocate for your craft and creativity.

Dig Deeper Exercises

Exercise 9-1. Presenting Yourself and Your Work
Sharing your work is an integral part of building relationships and creating a vibrant artistic career. We have linked several resources below to support you in developing media to showcase your work. Explore the following Peabody LAUNCHPad web resources for tips, templates, and ideas to create compelling portfolio materials:

List three things from each webpage that you can do to improve your professional materials.

Exercise 9-2. Three Reasons to Show Your Work
Read author Austin Kleon’s article entitled, “3 reasons why you should show your work.”[13] Reflect on any ways in which you are already showing or at least documenting your artistic work. You can apply these ideas towards building your work samples:

  • Not only does documenting your work give you the opportunity to see your progress, but it also provides you with material to comb through and, when appropriate, use as work samples for projects.
  • You can bring evaluators into your process.
  • Feedback is informative—online, from peers, and from grant panelists.

Exercise 9-3. Reviewing Work Sample Examples
After reviewing the two example projects in this chapter, what do you notice about their work samples? What did you find particularly effective about the samples they chose? Alternatively, were there elements you felt were disconnected from some aspects of their project or identity? Consider how you can devise your own strategies to connect the dots between your existing work samples and the project(s) you want to create.

Exercise 9-4. Reflections
Consider the question of “why now?” and reflect on the reasons the timing for your project is important.

  • What are the common threads or points of intersection between your mission, project, and audience? Why is this an important step in your career as an artist?
  • What is currently happening in your life, in your community, or in the world that supports the need for this project?
  • What are the consequences if you cannot or do not complete this project?

Consider how your answers to these questions might impact how you frame your artistic mission, project description, and other elements of your project and proposal.

Key Takeaways

“Keeping track of what you’ve done helps you better see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re headed. It also helps you share your story with others.”

–Austin Kleon

The examples we reviewed above lead us to these key points (Creative Capital, 2018; Kleon, 2016):

  • The primary role of your application is to persuade. Every aspect of the application needs to accomplish this task—from the words and the images to the audio samples and the video.
  • Your work samples serve to make you stand out and show a track record of excellence.
  • Document your work. Include the work in progress as well as the final products.
  • Your work sample is the only way a funder unfamiliar with your work can experience it.
  • The strongest work samples share who you are and indicate where you want to explore.
  • Provide context for your work to help evaluators connect the dots. Use descriptions of each sample to explain your selection and connect them to your proposal.

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:

  • CJay Philip on the Most Difficult Parts and Feedback
  • Adam Rosenblatt on the Challenge of Grants

CJay Philip on the Most Difficult Parts and Feedback

What part of the grant proposal process do you still find difficult?

ZF: What part of the grant proposal process do you still find difficult? Although, it sounds like you don’t find many difficult, because you’re just capturing them.

CJP: Well, I had plenty of grants that I haven’t gotten. I don’t get most of the grants that I apply for, but I keep plugging away. There are a couple areas that are really challenging for me. The stats and data speak is not my strength, and there’s always some stats and data speak that they watch. You’re like, what? I’m finding that material. So right now, we’re rethinking on an ongoing basis [how] we’re capturing our data.

I’m capturing what’s important to me. But also I know some of those things are important to funders, but I just recommend that people sort of on an ongoing basis, really think about the bigger picture of the work that you’re doing. There’s usually people out there in the field who are also doing that work:

  • What does that look like?
  • What does the research say about the work that you’re doing?

So I’m very intuitive. No one had to tell me that kids were going to be more on their phones, parents are going to also be on their devices, and texting each other from the other room–that somehow [that] wouldn’t create some sort of distance between them and their relationship?

The research later went that way. I was like, you didn’t have to tell me that. In 2010, I saw the writing on the wall. That’s why I started the FazaFam [a Baltimore-based family strengthening program building bonds and memories through music, movement, and games]. Same thing about isolation and loneliness. No one had to tell me that that was detrimental to one’s health, especially for senior citizens that are losing so many other friends. But now the research that’s coming out of Boston is saying that loneliness and isolation has a similar detrimental pattern to your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. That’s crazy.

I actually have to pay closer attention to what researchers are saying because of our funders who speak research, who speak data. Again, it goes back to my first point–understand your funder and speak to them in their language. That to me is sort of the area that I need to work on.

Importance of Feedback Sessions

CJP: There’s one other thing, the biggest challenge for me. There’s this one grant and I literally am so on the fence. I’ve applied for it twice, and everybody in Baltimore’s like, ‘oh, you you should apply for that,’ or ‘you’d be great for that.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, everybody tells me that, but every time I apply for it, I don’t get it.’ Oh yeah, I definitely want the feedback session, because you’ve got to tell me why I didn’t get this grant.

I always do the feedback session to find out. I do highly recommend that. Sometimes you think that whatever you think it was, that it’s like being on a blind date. Like why didn’t they like me, you know? Why didn’t they call me again? No idea. You have to go back and ask them. If they say, ‘Do you want to follow up to find out?’ Always say yes.

Always go get that follow up—you will glean and learn. I remember with this one grant, the one that I didn’t get, I was like ‘Whew!’ So glad I didn’t get that. Her biggest feedback was literally you lost out by like a 10th of a point, like we got down to the points. They loved your idea. All three of the people who audited yours said that it should be funded at the full amount. Nobody even said less money. So it literally was like between you and somebody who’s been writing grants for 10 years longer than you. Like it was just the writing, you know? It was good. It was solid. You would have been funded, you just lost out by a 10th of a point. So don’t go changing. That was really helpful because I was like, do I need to revamp that and you know I wouldn’t, but like you have those thoughts. ‘No, they loved everything about what you did. You just didn’t win the grant.’

If we have 100 to give out and we have 300 people applying, guess what? 200 people aren’t going to get this grant. Sometimes you’re that one, and it doesn’t mean that your idea isn’t good. I know people who have applied for the same grant every year with almost the same exact proposal, and in year four they finally got it. They were like, I didn’t change anything. I just kept saying the same thing, the same thing, and then in year four, okay, you are now a so-and-so fellow.

Working with Funders on their Application

CJP: But the biggest challenge with this one particular grant for artists. The folks that they had reading [the applications] were younger and awesome and enthusiastic, but had less understanding of how art and theater worked. That can be the challenge as artists.

If you’re competing in a grant scenario that’s not art-based, we can sometimes speak language that a lay person may not understand. You’ve got to break it down for your like five-year-old nephew, read it to him. If he’s not like ‘Huh?’ then you have a chance.

Adam Rosenblatt on the Challenge of Grants

What are the advantages and challenges of creating a project proposal with a group or ensemble?

ZF: What are the advantages and challenges of creating a project proposal with a group or ensemble?

AR: Yeah, so I don’t have so much experience about this yet. I’ve definitely stayed mostly as kind of a lone wolf, or certainly where it was clear that all the artistic weight was on me, and everybody coming on board kind of knew that. But now I’m part of this new ensemble that has 501(c)3 status, that has a history of getting grants, that has a board, all this stuff. It’s definitely a more cumbersome process, but it can be more rewarding, I’m finding.

But it takes much more clear communication. It’s easy, I would say, if the hierarchy is really clear and if everybody agrees on the hierarchy going in. Okay, this person is in charge of this or this person is just, like, it’s their project in the end. The buck stops with them, good, bad, or indifferent. The buck stops with them. And then everybody’s clear and then it can kind of flow down from there.

That was the instance, a little bit, with Timber when I was working with other performers, of course, and with visual artists. The visual artists had a very clear mandate for me from the beginning, like I want to do this piece; I want to know how you guys see visual elements of this piece. It was really great to work with them in that capacity, but it was because the relationship in the hierarchy was clear from the very beginning.

I’ve approached a couple of times, kind of a work where it’s like equal partners at the very top, where it’s kind of like co-owned, the project is co-owned by several people. I’ve found that you have to be very, very clear always. Communication is then the most important thing. The more it’s clear what everybody thinks, how everybody feels about this decision or that decision, then you can kind of move forward with confidence. Again, the payoffs can be much greater because you’re combining a lot of forces that can have a bigger effect. But the process of steering a ship with more people involved can be tricky. So I found that clear communication is the most important thing in those instances. Yeah.

ZF: That’s great. Yeah, I imagine it’s a combination of being super clear, and also clear division of, like, who owns what, is that correct?

AR: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, if that’s not laid out at day one – then it can always change, of course – but if you don’t have kind of buy in from everybody that this is the relationship, this is the structure we agree on. I’m responsible for this, you’re responsible for this. And here we go. Then if you don’t have that in place, then it’s just kind of begging for misunderstandings, for disappointment, for frustration.

The only way around that is just to communicate clearly and to be generous with people. That’s kind of a secondary thing but know that it’s also easy to get lost in the kind of minutia of the relationships and how you say things, or how you receive things, or something like that.

It’s always good to keep in mind that everybody wants to do this project because they really want to see the project succeed. Anything that they’re saying or doing is just for the end goal of that, to make the project succeed. It’s a good thing to keep in mind when you’re in the thick of it.


Akropolis Quintet. (2022). Akropolis Quintet.

Arthur Friedheim Library. (2022). Create media. LibGuide.

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

Creative Capital. (2018, June 18). Applying for grants: Choosing work samples.

Ekery, Amanda. (2022). Amanda Ekery.

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