Back last April, I cited a paper by the Independent Sector supporting, among other things, a simplified, unified grant application process so that one application might be applied to many granting institutions.
I haven’t found a unified process yet, but I have experienced a very simplified one recently. The National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts has a program where they give artists grants to develop a work in conjunction with a presenter partner. The paperwork for that looks about normal.
However, if the performance group wishes to take the work on tour, the National Dance Project will provide money to presenters to defray the artist fees. All the presenter has to do is send a very simple letter of intent (and NDP provides a sample template for the letter) to the tour coordinator which they pass on to the National Dance Project.
The NDP sends an evaluation form and a very easy to complete final report form which the presenter has to fill out (Took me about 30 minutes) in order to receive up to 25% of the artist fee back as a grant. Other than making sure print ads, press releases and program books have funding credits and writing letters to legislators telling them NEA money is well spent, that is it. NEFA makes it very easy to decide to present a work.
Actually, it seemed too easy. I was searching frantically for the grant application my predecessor did to make sure I was in compliance. The only back up I had was the letter to the tour manager declaring our interest to present it—surely that couldn’t be all we did to apply for it!
To some extent it was good that the application process was so simple. The deadline for 2005-2006 was Jan 21. The Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference just got over on Jan 11. That only left 10 days for presenters and agents to finalize dates and prices and then get letters of intent written up and submitted to NEFA.
I got an email from the members of my booking consortium who attended the APAP conference essentially telling me arrangements had been finalized and I had one day to send off letters of intent to a couple agents. Ironically, this was at the exact time I was frantically running around trying to locate the aforementioned phantom grant application so I could do follow up for the NDP funded show we just did so my understanding of the whole application process suddenly coalesced resulting in me stammering “That’s it?! That’s all I have to do?!”
So my hat’s off to ya New England Foundation for the Arts for making it easy on me!