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With Us, Not Against Us

August 4, 2011

Last week, I was at the information session for the LMCC grant program.  (If you are a Manhattan-based artist with a project to fund, check them out — besides their grants for non-profits, they also grant money to individuals, which is a great way to start funding your own projects.)

During the session, I was reminded of a piece of advice actors are often given by casting directors  – they actually WANT us to succeed in the audition room!

It’s hard to wrap your head around this.  There is so much competition and rejection in our industry that it seems as if the job of casting is to weed people out and find fault. But every casting director interview I’ve ever read contains this advice. Instead of thinking “please find me worth enough to employ…please please.” The better mindset is “I can provide you with what you need.”  Take care of them, don’t make them take care of you.

And for the most part, I believe that is the same mindset to take with grant-givers. It’s the reason why organizations like the LMCC run info sessions… it’s why grantors write very concise grant guidelines and application instructions – they WANT all the applications to be worthy, eligible, well-written and just good.  I presume for two reasons:  first they don’t want to waste time sifting through piles of incomplete applications. But mostly, I think, it’s because grant committee members value art and their role in financing it, and want to find and fund as many projects as possible.  They WANT us to succeed.

Like casting directors, grantors aren’t sadists who enjoy finding fault and rejecting people’s dreams….They are thrilled to find talented people and projects because it makes their jobs easier and more fulfilling.

So the next time, or the first time, you write a grant application, try to keep it in mind: They are with us, not against us.

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