[Free Download] Artist Grant Proposal Template

Katie Carey | October 17, 2022

 Artist Chelsea Hart installing a mural at a co-working space in Denver, CO

Thinking about applying for an artist grant, but not sure how to best present your project in the grant proposal?

An art proposal template can help get you started. 

If you are looking to receive support and funding for your art through an artist’s grant, you might be asked to submit an art grant proposal. 

Most artists aren’t also trained as grant writers, but with a few guiding questions and an outline for what to include in your proposal, you can better advocate for your project—and get them funded. Being able to write persuasively about your work helps others to see the value and meaning of your work quickly, and can be the difference between being awarded the grant or being passed over. 

Before you get started creating your own proposal, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Research the granting body and arts organization before you start writing

There are few things more exciting than being at the start of a new project. However, before you start writing your proposal, make sure to get a strong understanding of the organization that is funding the grant. 

Why was this organization started? What is their mission? What are they looking for in an applicant? If they have had similar grants in the past, who has won those grants? 

Organizations are usually looking to further a specific cause and you want to make sure that your work fits their vision before taking the time to apply. Reading about the program’s mission can also help inform how you approach writing your proposal—so that the funding organization can see that your project is in line with their vision and goals.

With limited time away from the studio, you want to make sure that your art practice and the program are a good fit for this project—so that you don’t waste your time applying for something in which you are not eligible. 

Next, research all the application guidelines and take note of the requirements. You don’t want your application thrown out before they even have the chance to review your work because your file names are labeled incorrectly or you submitted the wrong materials. 


Create a plan for applying—and don’t procrastinate

Planning ahead not only leaves you time to contact the funding organization if any questions arise, but it also lets your creative process breathe. Working up against a deadline can hinder the excitement of the project—and leave you stressed. 

Look ahead a full calendar year to see which applications and grants in which you want to apply for. Many grants publish their deadlines at the start of the year or have an annual deadline that is similar to years past. You can also use a resource like Artwork Archive’s Guide to the Best Artist Opportunities to find and save upcoming deadlines. 

Then, create a deadline in your Artwork Archive schedule so that you stay on top of the application and create a plan to complete your proposal on time. 

Depending on the funding amount and how extensive the application process is, preparing to apply for an art grant can take a few weeks to a few months to come together. You will want to brainstorm your proposal, organize your thoughts, create a draft, gather your images, and have someone review your application—all of which take planning!


Get clear on your proposal topic and process

While you may have a clear idea of your proposal, it takes time to turn the seed of an idea into a fully-formed written proposal. Even the best ideas take multiple iterations to get a big idea into a concisely written project timeline with clear steps and objectives. 

Starting with a draft or free-writing exercise can help you get all the floating thoughts out of your head and help you organize them into a compelling proposal. 

You can use the guiding questions in the artist grant proposal template download below to help clarify your project and writing.

Some sample questions you might ask yourself while brainstorming your proposal are:

  • Why is this project important? 

  • How is my project connected to previous artists they have supported? 

  • How does this project relate to my other work?

  • Why is this project timely?

  • Why this organization—what do we have in common?

  • The “who” “what” “where” “when” “how” of the project: Who else is involved? What resources will I need? Where will it take place? When will it take place? How will the project be completed and how will it be evaluated?


Have the basics of the application ready to go

While each application is different, there are a few fundamental requirements of most grants that you should have prepared ahead of time. 

  • Artist Statement

  • Bio

  • CV

  • Updated website

  • Images of past work related to the topic 

Since every application will require a list of artworks, it may help to create collections of your themed work in Artwork Archive and then quickly generate artwork lists or inventory lists when you need them. Inventory Reports are a great way to show the overview of information on your artworks that is required by granting institutions. With each artwork, you will want to include the following:

  • Title
  • Medium (e.g. cedar carving, acrylic on canvas, etc.)
  • Date
  • Dimensions or length of the art work and
  • A brief description of your intention behind each piece

With Artwork Archive, you can include all of this information with a few clicks and generate an artwork list with a thumbnail of the work and a link to the high-resolution image as well, making it easy to pull all this information together in seconds so that you can focus on the unique aspects of each application. 

Don’t waste time doing the same thing over and over, digging for image files, or piecing together an artwork list from scratch. Check out how to create inventory lists here and start your free trial with no credit card required here. 


Avoid making your proposal purely about you and your needs

Wanting support for your art business for studio or living expenses is valid, but most grants are looking to work with artists who are in line with their greater vision. Avoid saying that you want or need the money to pay for your studio or living expenses. Unless the application clearly states that it is an open or cash grant, the granting body will want to see exactly where the money is going. 

This means that you will need to be clear about where the budget will be going in the project and follow up with receipts to show how you are using the grant. 

 You will also want to avoid generalities and vague statements about the project, budget or timeline. The more direct and clear you can be, the better the panel can understand and back your project. Don’t assume that jurors know anything about your background, mission, or methods. Provide context and meaning through detailed explanations where they are necessary. 


Create a strong application by using the Art Grant Proposal Worksheet

The key to preparing for a grant application is remembering not only to present a full picture of the project and how it will be carried out but also why it should be funded in the first place! Many times, it’s the writing that will set your project apart. A thoughtful, clear, and concise proposal will always have a competitive advantage, especially when there’s money on the table.

The free worksheet download below includes an easy outline to organize your ideas, explain your project in its entirety, develop a budget and write your strongest art grant proposal. 

Download Artwork Archive's free grant proposal worksheet below to get started!

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