A Glitch in the Art Grants

Jul 12, 2021 | Uncategorized

Last year, I received an Art Grant to build Reality Glitch, the little bit of mystical living room corner which appeared in the new forest section at Kiwiburn 2021. You may be thinking of applying for an Art Grant this year (or thinking that you wish you could apply but it feels a bit overwhelming!), so I thought I’d write about how this worked for me.

Remind me to remind you about Art Grants

I’m Jo, no Paddock name (for shame!), and I am one of the EFP writers. I’m the one with the terrible puns. I am sorry.

I must have written 27 articles last year that all basically said: “Remember to apply for an Art Grant!” “Art Grant Deadline looming!” “It’s Art, Grant!” and other such things. Every time I wrote one, I had this conversation with myself:

“Huh, I wonder if I should apply for an Art Grant.”

“You don’t have an idea.”

“Well, it would force me to get an idea.”

“You’ve never been to Kiwiburn. You can’t make artwork for Kiwiburn. You don’t know anything about it. “

“It has ground, right? Things can stand on it? Are you not overcomplicating this?”

“You’re in no place to make art. You’re stressed and possibly depressed and you’ve just moved countries and everything is hard. You don’t have the energy for art.”

“Well, maybe the energy would come from the art.”

“Or maybe you will be given money and not accomplish anything and disappoint a bunch of people you haven’t even met and be a horrible failure.”

You know, normal inner dialogue.

Time passed, the deadline approached, I wrote another twelve articles. Somehow, a week before the deadline, it all came to a head. I was going to apply. 

At this stage, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to make.

Decisions, decisions

I knew what I wanted from my artwork:

1.     The opportunity to work with my hands

2.     A mission and purpose for the Burn

3.     To delight and surprise people

4.     To be interactive

5.     To be made from scavenged, cast-off, second-hand materials (Tip shop, hurray!)

6.     To be easily transported and assembled by one person (That didn’t happen. Well we can’t have it all.)

I brainstormed with myself and came up with ideas including Giant Curved Mirror Mosaic (too heavy), Floating Helium Balloon Sculptures (hampered only by the laws of physics) and Corner of Quirky Living Room in the Forest (winner!). At the time, surprises, effects and illusions were not even a twinkle in momma’s eye. But the project seemed to meet most criteria (it ended up failing point 6, but at the time I persuaded myself it would not. Sometimes being too realistic is a killjoy.)

‘Appy application

I needed a bunch of things I didn’t have for my application:

1.     A sketch or mock up

This was OK – I ended up doing something with watercolours (that actually looks remarkably like the finished thing in spirit). It was a good exercise to make me give it a concrete shape.

2.     A budget

The budget was… hard. I’ve worked in corporate environments. I do numbers. But I had absolutely-no-clue what the thing would actually be made from and how much I would have to pay for it. I wanted to apply for $500, and I knew it would cost more than that (it did. Things always do), so the challenge was to come up with an estimate that would justify the $500, knowing I would spend $500, but not necessarily in the way I budgeted.

I ended up with a combination wishlist from Bunnings and thumb-suck for second-hand finds at the tip shop. It came to more than the grant, but I put it all in since the grant is intended to co-fund the artwork. (Turns out I could have included trailer hire which is a good thing to know for next time!)

3.     Answers to a lot of questions.

Having to answer the questions was actually the most useful part of the process:  how is it secured? How is it lit? Will there be sound? What are the risks? This helped me think through many problems which I had not sufficiently considered and make my plan better. Some questions (like: Is it viewable at night?) inspired me to try and make it better than it was.

4.     A name. (I’m terrible with names.)

I had to settle on a name (it’s a terrible name, isn’t it a terrible name?) – but it was good to put it down and hit enter and know I couldn’t rename it anymore. Gah, names!

And then we wait

A month passed. I didn’t think about it much, except sometimes wondering if I would still make Glitch if I didn’t get the grant (I didn’t really think I would) and I thought the answer would be yes. But I also worried that without that external commitment I may flake out. So I waited.

And it happened!!!

So now there was a thing I had promised to make. And people had believed in me. And that meant so, so much. I was new, untested, I had not been to Kiwiburn and I did not know many people, and these lovely people at Kiwiburn Arts Committee read my idea and looked at my picture and said “we will back this one” and now I was all warm at heart and teary eyed and determined to make them proud.

It’s your turn

If you’re thinking of applying for an Art Grant, but aren’t sure? Apply!

I like lists, so here is a list of good things that came out of applying:

  1. Money (yay!)
  2. External, expert validation that your idea is not a crap idea (priceless!)
  3. More ideas, clarification, and reality testing from the application process.
  4. A kick up your ass to get your idea together, get it on paper, make a sketch, and give it a bloody name.
  5. A contact person to ask for help along the way.
  6. Having to make a commitment to actually complete the artwork and not chicken out.

And that’s not counting the joy of making the actual thing. So yeah, I recommend putting your application where your heart is. And if you don’t get the grant, 3 and 4 still apply – you got it together, you put yourself out there, and maybe it will lead to the creation of something wonderful. You will be one step closer.

Technical notes

This is a blog about the application process, not the art-making itself, but you may be wondering:

  • Did I exceed my budget?

Oh resoundingly yes. I don’t know by how much. I don’t want to know by how much.

  • How did the money work?

I paid for everything from my own funds. After the Burn, I submitted my receipts – only $500 worth of receipts, so I could choose nice big ones, not the $2.50 picture frame from St Vinnies – as my claim. It did not match my budget particularly well. That seemed to be ok. Money was sent quickly!

  • Did getting an Art Grant give me Early Entry?

No it did not! I really wish it had, this was the most stressful part for me. I hear rumours that Early Entry applications this year are more integrated in the Art Grant application process, I hope that is true – it would help a lot!

  • What about the theme? Does it have to be on theme?

I don’t… think so? I mean, Glitch wasn’t very Mythical Picnic (no matter how much I tried to make it sound that way). I think the proposal will be reviewed as a whole, and you don’t have to tick all the boxes.

  • How much was built beforehand, how much at the Burn?

I made it all beforehand, assembled it and tested it, then disassembled it, bubble wrapped it, and drove it to the Burn.

  • How much interaction with KB was there during the making of it?

A little bit? There were more forms to fill out, and I had a lovely liaison at the KAC who I could ask about things.

  • Was it worth it?

Fuck yeah.

If you want to ask me anything, email me on jolegutko at gmail dot com – I am scheming this year’s application right now, we can compare notes!

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