“Your mileage may vary. Take what you need and leave the rest.”

–Austin Kleon


This book is a hybrid resource. It is part textbook, part workbook. Our goal is that you arrive at the end with the tools and confidence to build your own projects, for grants or otherwise. While we’ve centered the process around building a grant proposal, all the tools outlined in the coming pages can be helpful when creating an independently funded project, a crowdfunded project, or even just figuring out how to manage your artistic career.

The book provides new tools and processes to create ideas (there is a science to creativity!), describe your ideas, develop a budget and timeline for them, and talk about them to other people. You learn how to locate potential funding for those ideas, how to support them with examples of your past work, and how to identify who might be interested in your idea. For each of these steps, we walk you through a method for creating the content or building the skills, as well as explore your own methods. This is a guide, not a set of laws.

We hope that when equipped with these skills, each artist takes ownership of their art. With the confidence to find funding for your projects, you can also generate and sustain financial and creative freedom.


For Artists

This book is for today’s creative workforce. The rise of technology and other societal changes have shifted how people in creative industries generate an income, including digital disruption, globalization, and the peer-to-peer economy (Bartleet et al., 2019; Young, 2018; Jackson & Bridgstock, 2019). Creative industries include architecture, design and visual arts; music and the performing arts; film, radio, and television; writing and publishing; advertising and marketing; and software and digital content (Bridgstock et al., 2015).

One segment of creative industries features highly proficient professionals that perform for a live audience. Performing artists include a range of disciplines via live entertainment events, although audio and video recording also allow for private consumption. Whether you are a performer on stage, an audio engineer in the booth, a producer behind the curtain, or a composer in the audience, this book shares how to connect with your community and develop project ideas into impactful, funded experiences. In addition, many professional artists with flexible and innovative careers share their perspectives on the grant writing process.

While the examples here focus on the performing arts, members of any creative industry can benefit from this resource.

For Instructors

Creative careers are more complex and diverse than traditional careers. This diversity makes the task of creative educators more challenging, as few students transition to traditional, full-time employment (Bennett et al., 2016; Bridgstock et al., 2015). This book addresses current trends in creative industries, including portfolio careers and the entrepreneurial skills in the arts needed to successfully transition from higher education student to professional artist. These skills must be integrated throughout the curriculum within artistic programs in addition to technical artistry skills.

To prepare students for the transition to professionals, we advocate for conservatories and music programs to introduce students to professional artists with a wide range of musical identities. By integrating excellence in artistry with a variety of practical skills and exposure to music industry professionals, musicians can better build and sustain a creative career in the arts. Each chapter includes conversations with professional artists about their career and their grant process.

Visit the Peabody Path To Funding[1] webpage to share your experiences with the materials, provide feedback, and sign up to receive updates on supplemental instructor and student resources when they are available.


The book is organized into three parts:

  1. The Artist
  2. The Community
  3. The Creative Project

Part I: The Artist introduces the scope of the book and the impact of arts education within the creative professions. You articulate who you are as an artist and compose a mission statement for your work. It also lays the foundation for relating your values and mission within your community and offers strategies to brainstorm ideas and build a mind map around project ideas.

Part II: The Community focuses on identifying the purpose of projects within the context of community needs. In addition, it addresses how to connect audiences with your artistic works. It also covers how to find appropriate funders and partners.

Part III: The Creative Project walks you through building a project proposal for a grant application. You dive into key components of a compelling project description, steps to build a budget and a timeline, as well as curate and create work samples. It covers how to demonstrate why you and why now with a cohesive package of professional materials.

Below is an overview of each chapter.

Chapter Topics

 1  Introduction

Explain impact of arts education within the professional world and need for multi-faceted skills for high-level artists.

Develop audiences to supports long-term sustainability.

 2  Your Artistry and Your Values

Articulate who you are as an artist with a mission statement.

Relate your artistic identity and values to the surrounding community, including audience, grantors, collaborators, and others.

 3  Project Ideas

Build ideation methods and create a mind map.

Develop strategies to get yourself “unstuck.”

 4  Your Audience


Identify the purpose of your project and the audience it serves.

Articulate how to find and connect audiences with your artistic work.

Share the impact of your project in your community.

 5  Funders and Other Partners

Identify appropriate funders for your project.

Align your project outcomes with a funder’s goals.

Build relationships and connect with potential funders.

 6  Project Descriptions

Develop a compelling narrative that clearly outlines your project.

Share your project with authenticity and cohesion that includes what, why, who, and how.

 7  Project Budgets

List fundamental budget requirements and how to format.

Construct a budget with details that support your project narrative.

 8  Project Timelines

Identify basics of grant timelines and how to present the information.

Build a timeline with logistics that support your project story.

 9  Project Viability

Explain the value of showcasing your work.

List strategies to create and benefits of consistent documentation of your artistic work.

Integrate your previous artistic work effectively in your promotional materials and applications.

10  Make It Happen

Combine the elements of your grant application into a clear, cohesive, and convincing written proposal.

Explain your artistic work in ways that authentically connect with others.

Practice your verbal pitch to communicate both on video and in-person.



Each chapter includes an overview of learning goals, perspectives of professional artists, and key takeaways. It also includes exercises that help you develop your artistic identity talk about your work, and submit a compelling grant proposal. Robust examples throughout the book demonstrate key concepts and provide models to build on for your projects. References are provided at the end of each chapter and for the entire book. Glossary terms are defined within the text and compiled at the end. The Path to Funding is available in digital or print formats.


Bartleet, B-L., Ballico, C., Bennett, D., Bridgstock, R., Draper, P., Tomlinson, V., Harrison, S. (2019). Building sustainable portfolio careers in music: Insights and implications for higher education. Music Education Research, 21(3), 282–294.

Bennett, D., Rowley, J., Dunbar-Hall, P., Hitchcock, M., & Blom, D. (2016) Electronic portfolios and learner identity: An ePortfolio case study in music and writing. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 40(1), 107–124.

Bridgstock, R., Goldsmith, B., Rodgers, J., & Hearn, G. (2015). Creative graduate pathways within and beyond the creative industries. Journal of Education & Work, 28(4), 333–345.

Jackson, D., & Bridgstock, R. (2019). Evidencing student success and career outcomes among business and creative industries graduates. Journal of Higher Education Policy & Management, 41(5), 451–467.

Kleon, A. (2019). Keep going: 10 ways to stay creative in good times and bad. Workman Publishing Company.

Young, S. D. (2018). A work of art in the age of technological disruption: The future of work in the music industry. Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association Journal, 18(1), 73–104.



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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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