Start That Grant Early

If you are considering applying for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, or the Humanities, or any program run by the government, you will have to go through Grants.gov. My last grant application went in just before they implemented this new program through which all US government related grant applications must pass so I haven’t had to negotiate the system myself.

I did try to get the registration portion of the process out of the way when I got the email telling me that my next grant would have to go through that process. The complexity made my eyes cross and I decided to forgo my usual “get it done well in advance” ethic.

A couple days ago I saw an account of the hair-tearing frustration a woman at Hood College went through trying to assist a colleague submit a grant. I figured maybe I should warn others about what is involved as well.

If you go to the applicant FAQ page on the Grants.gov website you can start to see where the problems arise. First, you can only use Internet Explorer and Windows operating system as that is only thing the grant application software runs on. (Didn’t the government sue Microsoft for monopoly practices?) Firefox is out. If you have a Macintosh, you need to log on to an emulation program that only accommodates so many people at once. (They suggest logging on between 10 pm and 10 am.)

Then you need a DUNS number, register with the Central Contractor Registry from which you will get a Marketing Partner Id Number and will be able to designate an e-Business Point of Contact. Then you need to register with the Credential Provider who will give you a username and password so you can register with Grants.gov as an authorized organization representative.

You may feel lucky if you discover your organization has already acquired all this information. Of course, now you have to discover who it is that has all this information and who Grants.gov recognizes as the person authorized to authorize you as a user. And pray that they have saved all the usernames and passwords for the hoops mentioned above.

All this before you actually get to fill out the grant application. The government really doesn’t want to give you any money. Now I understand better why the United States Artists group I mentioned previously is focusing on funding individual artists. It is said that the best artists are troubled and tormented to some degree. This application process will push those artists over the edge and make mediocre artists better.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.

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