VAC Grants

Sonia Rae, VAC Community Programs Manager

Yesterday, I attended the grant writers workshop put on by the Vermont Arts Council and sponsored by the St. Albans Artists Guild in the Bliss Auditorium at the St. Albans Historical Museum. Some of our more experienced artists may know already about the VAC and its programs, but I had yet to look into it so it was very informative for me.


I missed most of the first part that was targeted for organizations. Some might think this would be the more important session for a gallery owner to attend, but since the STAART Gallery isn’t a non-profit, it’s not eligible for grants. The message from the two representatives, Sonia Rae, Community Programs Manager, and Stacy Raphael, Arts Education Program Manager, at the end of the first session was that both state and federal funding for the arts is not nearly what it needs to be (surprise). And the VAC actually gets more funding from the federal government than the state which is atypical of most state art programs throughout the country.


The second session was geared towards individual artists and funding available to them. Rae presented a slideshow taking us step-by-step through the grant application process available on the VAC website. There is a lot of information that needs to be filled in and can get tricky once you get to the budget form. That’s why it is important to have a specific project in mind with a clear idea of what kind of money you need and how it will be spent.


There are two types of grants available to artists. The first are called Creation Grants and are larger sums of money meant to aid artists in the creation of new work. In the past the typical grant was $3000 and they awarded about 15 grants per year (out of about 50 applicants), but for the next fiscal year they are changing their strategy and awarding larger grants of about $5000-$7000 but to fewer people. Tougher competition but a bigger more useful pot. You have to match the grant, so for a $3000 grant, you have to show that you will have $6000 of expenses. Therefore you are still making a personal investment.


Creation Grants are awarded by a panel of jurists that change every year so if you don’t get a grant one year you can start fresh the next. Part of the application does include samples of the work you do or will be developing so, yes, a critique of your work is part of the process. These grants are only awarded once a year and this year’s deadline is already past. The deadline for projects occurring from Sept. 1, 2008 to Aug. 31 2009 (they have a different fiscal year than the calendar year) will be sometime in May.


The other type of grant, Artist Development Grants, are meant to “provide funds for artistic and professional skill development as well as for promotional and marketing materials (VAC website).” These range from $250-$750, again with matching funding, and typically do not exceed $500. These are rolling grants, so they can be applied for whenever. However, an application needs to be sent in 60 days prior to the date you actually need the funding.


The funds from these grants can be used for a huge variety of expenses. Some include creating an identity kit with a logo and materials, expenses related to a professional workshop (including airfare to get there), web design, photographer’s fees for taking pictures of your work, research on a project, etc. There are a lot of possibilities.


Membership with VAC is (I think) $40. If you are a member you can apply for these grants for free. If you’re not, you can still apply but with an application fee. I’ll have some brochures at the gallery if anyone wants one. I also have notes from the presentation in case anyone decides to apply for a grant and don’t understand a particular section of the application. 


Anonymous said...

do you think they give grants to music?
I'm glad that you're doing some cool stuff in the space.

Anonymous said...

I'm not 100% sure, but I think that their grants cover both visual and performing arts. I would check their website or give them a call.