For Artists / Resources


ARTICLE: Inside the Grant Review Process

Miguel Guillen, Program Manager

You are so on top of it. You’re aware of the upcoming grant deadline and noted it on your deadlines calendar. You have updated your work sample; updated your résumé; updated your artist statement; and are prepared to submit the perfect budget. Check, check and check all the items off of your list. Next step, upload or mail in your application (depending on the grant) and you’ll be all done—and well in advance of the deadline. Good for you! Now the wait… up to 16 weeks?! Oh, the anticipation. What is Artist Trust doing with your application that could possibly take so long? We know lots of you wonder about this, so here’s a breakdown.

Processing the Applications
Artist Trust can receive up to 900 applications for one grant cycle, depending on the grant. Needless to say, processing this many applications requires lots of administrative time. Smaller applicant pools, such as what we receive for the Twining Humber Lifetime Achievement Award, are processed manually. Binders containing nominee information are assembled and support materials organized. Artist Trust’s grants that draw larger application pools are accepted online; this process, although more streamlined, still requires much processing. All this processing of applications is in preparation for one thing: the panel review process.

Panelists and the Panel Process
Artistic excellence is the highest priority in our funding programs. To arrive at grant recipients that meet this standard, Artist Trust enlists artists and arts professionals from around and outside the Northwest to serve on peer panels. The process of creating panels requires quite a bit of effort itself, as we strive to achieve diversity within the ranks of our panels. We highly appreciate the work of all our panelists who devote many hours carefully reviewing and choosing applications based each grant’s specific criteria.

Online Applications
For online submissions, panelists first review applications remotely via their home computer. During this part of the process, Artist Trust is in constant contact with the panelists to answer questions and facilitate the process. Panelist will have three to four weeks to evaluate applications before the remote evaluation closes. At this point, lists of finalists are compiled and preparations are made for a live panel convening. The panelists then gather at Artist Trust to review applications that they have moved into the finalist rounds. Continuing to use the online system, this process involves two voting rounds that will ultimately yield the recipients of the awards. During the live panel convening, applicant work samples are projected for the panelists to review.

Paper Applications
Applications that are mailed in are sorted, processed, compiled into binders and prepared for the review process. The binders are sent to panelists who review the applications and some of the support materials. Panelists have a month to review the applications and take notes. During this time Artist Trust is available to answer any questions that panelists may have. The panelists then convene at Artist Trust to evaluate applicant work samples and discuss the applications. The manual evaluation process normally involves two rounds of voting to decide the recipient(s). During the live panel convening, applicant work samples are projected for the panelists to review.

Here is a breakdown of how the process works for each of our grants:

Grants for Artist Projects
16 panelists review applications from artists working in all disciplines. Applications are accepted through the CAFE online application system. Panelists review applications remotely and at live panel gatherings.

Conductive Garboil Grant
The Conductive Garboil Grant is administered annually by Artist Trust and 4Culture. Five panelists meet to review applications in a live panel where three to four finalists are selected for studio visits. Panelists reconvene to select recipient.

12 panelists review applications from artists working in four primary discipline categories. Applications are accepted through the CAFE online application system. Panelists review applications remotely and at live panel gatherings.

Twining Humber Lifetime Achievement
Three panelists review nominations. Panelists review nominations remotely and in a live panel.

Arts Innovator Award
2011 will see a change to the way we review the Arts Innovator Award. At this writing specific details of how the award will be reviewed as well as guidelines have not been finalized; however, we can say with certainty that the Arts Innovator Award will now be an open application where as previously it was a nomination-only process. Artist Trust will partner with CAFE, our online application partners, to create a new application and the review process will be as described above for online applications. Stay tuned for more information as it develops.

So hang in there! We understand that the wait to hear back about your application is long—hopefully this information helps you understand what is going on behind the scenes. We always look forward to reviewing your applications and always wish you the very best in this highly competitive process.