Creative Capital’s info sessions are simply gatherings where we can tell artists about what we do and how they can apply for a grant. Because we have one of the few open and competitive artist grant applications in the country, and because our selection process is multi-layered, takes a while, requires a good deal of thought and, yes, effort, we’ve always felt it important to reach out to artists. Not only to spread the word about Creative Capital, but to also offer advice, answer questions and get feedback about our system. We try to do these face-to-face meetings several times a year in different parts of the country.
I recently returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest where I conducted two meetings, one in Seattle at On The Boards, and a second in Portland at PICA’s Washington High School. In December, I’ll do a meeting in Miami, and in February, I’ll barnstorm through Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles and, perhaps, San Diego.
(I hasten to add that these meetings are almost always added to trips we are already taking for other reasons – personal or business. Really. We have very little in the budget for dedicated outreach travel!)
The advice we offer is mostly straight forward: don’t use jargon; write simply and clearly; don’t wait until the last minute to fill out the letter of inquiry. But every once in a while we get new questions, hard ones that stop us, taking us outside the comfortable confines of our now familiar presentations.
We’re sure these meetings are a benefit to many of the artists who attend (because we’ve been told so). And while the meetings are valuable to us as tests of our process and the clarity with which we talk about that process, perhaps the most rewarding result of traveling around the country doing outreach is the realization that there is really such a thing as a national community of artists. That there is not only a “nation of work” which we hope to reflect in the range of projects we fund, but also a large, diverse, sometimes dyspeptic, mostly generous, smart, likeable and broadly, if not evenly, scattered group of people who have chosen lives of creativity, problem solving, independent thought, beauty and, sometimes, struggle.
It’s a shame we can’t support more of them. We’re likely to remain (and intentionally so) a small organization. But it’s a pleasurable process of discovery to meet and talk with artists and gather a sense of the creative community that stretches across the country.
In 2012, Creative Capital will consider proposals in Emerging Fields, Literature and Performing Arts. The online Letter of Inquiry opens on February 1, 2012 and closes on March 1, 2012. We hope you’re thinking of applying. And I hope you’ll check out the Info Sessions section of our website to see where we’ll be traveling next. Maybe we’ll have a chance to talk.