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Let’s Go! New travel grant opportunity for BIPOC artists.

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

The Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) and the CICF Artist Ambassadors have just launched a new grant opportunity for Central Indiana BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists. This grant allows you to travel for a number of opportunities in which your career is expanded or strengthened. Continue reading for my analysis and tips for applying and scroll down to the end of this post for a link to the grant’s page and application form.

If you are a Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color (potentially including minorities and/or international artists), over the age of 18, spend a meaningful amount of time on your art, and reside in Central Indiana (Marion and surrounding counties), you qualify.

You’ll need to provide supporting documents including a resume or curriculum vitae (make sure it is current and update if necessary), and a link to a cloud drive containing up to 5 work samples demonstrating your artistry (I recommend using images of your most recent works or works that support or relate to the purpose of your travels. For example, if you are attending a figure drawing class in New York, include examples of your drawings and/or figure studies).

You’ll also need to answer 4 questions. I recommend you use a word processing application to type your answers and save them on a cloud drive. For good housekeeping, I keep a “Grants” folder in my google drive and organize content by the name of the grant I’m applying for, in this case “Travel Grant.” Save all of your supporting documents and the doc with your answers here.

Below are the questions you need to answer. Overall, this is one of the simplest grant applications I have encountered and I’m confident that many first time grant applicants will have a fairly easy time filling it out. Focus on writing your answers as concise and straight to the point as possible. Do not use “fluff” to make yourself sound smart or overly intellectual. Be honest and get straight to the point.

First, you’ll need to share a bio covering 3 key points. Those 3 points are listed in the above graphic. I recommend formatting this bio exactly as the key points are numbered here. Start with your introduction, “I’m Daniel Del Real, a multidisciplinary artist focused on telling stories of my Mexican upbringing and life experiences. I enjoy romanticizing popular Mexican objects by making large interactive works I call Giant Mexicanadas.” Then jump to the second key point which is where you talk about your past including how you became interested in art and if you obtained art training. You can mention your degrees here if you have any. Finally, wrap up your bio by sharing an overview of some of your great achievements. Do include impressive exhibitions such as your first solo show, maybe you were in a group show at a well known gallery. Also include any accolades such as awards and other key things worth bragging about. I would cut this off at three different things. You don’t want to share every single accolade worth mentioning. Just share a few that will tell the reader about your most notable accomplishments. Keep in mind, they are asking for a brief bio. Normally, your bio would include a fourth key point that talks about future aspirations. It may be worth mentioning that in a brief sentence as a way to end your bio.

If you pay careful attention, the bio is formatted in this way:

  1. Intro

  2. Past

  3. Present

  4. Future

By thinking of your bio in this format, you should be able to adequately organize the information to create a nice narrative that will interest and keep your reader focused.

The second question in the form is actually the first one you should think about before you even begin to apply. Start by asking yourself how your career as an artist can benefit from traveling. Maybe you would like to show your art at a fair that you believe will be of great benefit to your career. Maybe you’d like to pick up a new skill that is only taught in Mexico and you believe this skill will help you in your career. Maybe you’d like to visit a museum in Canada that you believe will be of great influence to you. The possibilities are quite endless. And while you may have several ideas, you’ll need to settle on one that will have the biggest impact on your career. You’ll also need to consider the timing of this travel (funds must be used by June 30, 2024), and what it will cost you (More on that later).

Now write your idea while keeping in mind the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why). You may even need to throw in the How. Again, keep this as concise and straight forward as possible. Only cover what you plan to do during this travel.

Now, you’ll need to share how this travel activity will impact your career. You’ll certainly have anticipated outcome/s. Write about what you think those outcomes will be. Ask yourself questions like, how will this impact my productivity, expand my network, make me a more informed or efficient artist? How will I benefit from this experience? What doors will open for me having made this trip? There are many ways to think about this question. Answer as best and as thoroughly as you can and make a compelling case for yourself.

This last question should be the easiest. Elaborate on your where and why. A simple “I’ll be traveling to Los Angeles, California, because its large Mexican and Mexican American population will help me expand my audience to a demographic that understands me the most”.

After you’ve answered the 4 questions, you’ll need to do some homework and figure out what it will cost for you to do this activity. There’s a variety of expenses the grant will cover listed below:

  • Travel (airfare, car rental, bus, train, gas, public transit).

  • Lodging (hotel, motel, Airbnb)

  • Participation Fees (conference, vendor, workshops, classes)

  • Booking Fees (venue, studio, space)

  • Admissions (concerts, museums, festivals, fairs)

  • Materials transport (shipping, freight)

The grant does not cover expenses associated with food, leisure that isn’t arts or culture related such as going to a theme park but will cover something like a concert or possibly even a theatre performance, and It certainly won’t cover expenses like shopping or gambling.

With this said, even though the grant covers a wide variety of expenses and caps off at $5,000 does not mean you should budget first class air fare or five star hotels. You are less likely to successfully be granted if you include these luxury items in your budget than if you budget as if you were paying for the expenses out of your own pocket. In short, don’t be greedy. Grantors will favor frugal budgets because this means they’ll be able to fund more projects.

I highly recommend that you create a spreadsheet for your budget. Think about all the expenses you will incur. How will you get to your destination? How much will it cost? How much will it cost to get around while you’re there? Where will you stay? How many nights? Where will you go? What will you do? How much will it cost to do all of that. Create a line item for each of these expenses and really do your research on how much each of those things are going to cost.

Lastly, should you receive this grant, you will be required to report it in your tax return and you will need to pay taxes on it. Thankfully, this grant will cover that for you as well. Once you’ve figured your total in your budget, estimate what amount of that total you’ll need to pay in taxes. You’ll need to pay Indiana 3.23%, Social Security 12.4%, and Medicare 2.9%, that’s almost 20%. As an example, if your total budget adds up to $2000, you’ll also request $400 to cover your tax liability for a total of $2400. The problem here is that now your tax liability on $2400 is $480. In order to fix this scenario you’ll have to increase your tax line to $500. Now at $2500 your tax liability is $500 and you’ll have $2000 for your activity. You’ll need to play with your numbers a bit or ask a tax professional to assist you with this part.

The final section of the application might seem weird or invasive of your privacy, however, it is extremely important. The demographics section is vital for grantors because it allows them to know what segments of the population are seeking this aid, as well as where future funding can be directed toward. You might be wondering, “well why does this matter to me?” It matters because it shows the grantor that people like you need these funds and if enough people like you apply, they may identify a need and offer future grants to people like you, thereby increasing opportunities for you in the future. Even though a few questions in this section have a “prefer not to say” option. I highly recommend to disclose all your demographic information truthfully and accurately to help insure you are being heard. Rest assured that this data is used internally, and your demographic information and its connection to you is not shared publicly. IE, if you identify as a queer artist, the grantor will not out you.

As a last step, I recommend that you conduct a review by sharing your responses with a few people in your circle. Ask them to look over your answers, your supporting documents, and your budget to see if anything sounds off or if numbers don’t add up. Maybe a friend can help you polish your responses, maybe somebody catches a budget mistake. Once you and these friends feel that you’ve represented yourself and your idea in a compelling, straight forward, and concise way, you’re ready to submit your application. Carefully copy and paste your responses from your word doc to the online application fields, upload your resume/CV, copy and paste your work samples folder link while making sure you’ve allowed public permissions to that folder, copy and paste all your budget lines, and accurately answer the demographics section. Hit the submit button and hope for the best outcome. It’s that easy.

If you plan to apply, start now. You’ll need to give yourself plenty of time to get everything together and you only have till August 13, 2023 to submit your application. Notifications whether you got the grant or not will reach you by September 30, 2023.

So what will happen if you receive the grant? You’ll get to travel to that place you said you’d go in your application, but your obligations with the grantor are not over. You’ll need to submit a report to the grantor. You’ll either receive information in the future on what exactly this report will look like, or what information you’ll need to share to satisfy this requirement. In any case you should exercise the following actions before, during, and after you execute your activity:

  • Keep track of expenses (save print receipts in a folder or envelope clearly labeled with your project name, save digital receipts/invoices to your grant’s cloud folder under a subfolder titled “expenses”)

  • Document (take photos, more photos, and more photos, and videos, write nightly journal entries and date them, date your sketches)

  • Collect (business cards, ticket stubs, pamphlets, brochures)

  • Post to social media

  • Plus any other thing that comes to mind that will show the grantor that you did what you promised you’d do.

Having all this in your folder will aid you when it comes time to write your report. You’ll have plenty of evidence to show how you did what you said you’d do. More importantly you’ll leave a great impression on the grantor when they see that you were well organized and submitted a satisfactory report. This too is a way that may open future opportunities for you.

Are you ready to apply for this grant? Click below to head to the grant’s page and access the form. Have questions I didn’t cover here or want to share some of your insights, please do so in the comments below. If you found this post helpful, pay it forward by sharing on your social media channels or consider making a purchase from my web store. Happy grant writing!

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