In the autumn of 2014 I received a Grants for Artists Projects (GAP) award from the Seattle-based organization Artist Trust to finish purchasing the equipment I needed to complete my first solo show, Equilibrium. Artist Trust is a “not-for-profit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines in order to enrich community life throughout Washington State.” Artist Trust offers a number of different types of grants and fellowships to Washington state residents including the GAP grant, which is project-based and requires artists to apply with a specific project in mind and a budget detailing how the money (a maximum of $1,500) will be spent.
Artist Trust provides a great deal of information for potential grant applicants and I spent time poring over these documents to determine if I was an appropriate candidate for the grant, and to ensure that I was submitting an application that adhered to their guidelines and would stand-out among other applicants. Artist Trust defines the categories of arts that they fund quite broadly and even though their “Performing Arts” category did not specifically list circus as a subcategory, after reading bios and project statements from previous grantees, I was confident my work would be considered under this heading. While circus is the primary medium of my show, Equilibrium also includes elements of dance, theater, puppetry and mask-work.
I was motivated to secure funding through Artist Trust because I want to see circus in the US become a field that is recognized for its artistic merit and not just its commercial potential. I see grant funding as a means to offer engaging, high-skill circus performance that is affordable and accessible.
I was already developing my show when I submitted my grant application and so I was aware of the materials that I would need to buy in order to finish the project, as well as the outline of the show and my intentions for creating it. In my application, I had to hone in on what made my project unique and necessary, which in turn forced me to reflect on my goals as an artist and what I hoped to achieve with Equilibrium.
The GAP award allowed me to not only purchase the equipment that I wanted but it permitted me to pay myself for the many hours that I had spent developing the show. The project budget worksheet included a category labeled “Your time/fee”. It was refreshing to be reminded that my time is worth something and to be encouraged to compensate myself for my work.
I was required to follow up with Artist Trust upon the completion of my project by acknowledging their funding when promoting Equilibrium, sending them pictures from a live performance and submitting a report about a presentation of the show. The Artist Trust website also maintains a list of previous grant recipients along with photos, bios, project descriptions and links to the artists’ websites.
Having my first solo show funded by Artist Trust has been a great experience. I have presented Equilibrium in Washington, Georgia and California, I was invited to perform at the Artist Trust annual benefit auction in Seattle and I feel a sense of confidence going forward, knowing that there are avenues of funding available to me to create works of circus and that there are people and organizations who want to support this kind of work and see it come to life.
This event was made possible by the Artist Trust 2014 Grants for Artists Projects fund. Enjoy!