News / Blog

Behind the Curtain: Changes to Artist Trust’s Grantmaking Programs

Brian McGuigan

Over the last year, we’ve made several changes to our grantmaking programs based on feedback from artists, including a new grant management system, preliminary application feedback, free post-panel feedback, launching Office Hours, and increased promotion of award winners. The intent of these changes is to make our programs more artist-focused and to demystify the grantmaking process, or, as I like to say, to show artists “the secret sauce” of applying for grants.

Beginning with the 2016 LaSalle Storyteller Award in Fiction last year, we moved to a new grant management system, Submittable. Often used in literary, film, and dance fields, Submittable gives you more flexibility in the kinds and number of work samples you can submit. Artists who work in multiple disciplines or who have work samples in many different file types can now submit in all formats, audio, video, images, and manuscript. Artists may also request preliminary and post-panel feedback and leave specific questions for the reviewer all through Submittable, making communicating with our staff easier and more efficient. 

Preliminary feedback is a new service we offer to grant applicants. About a month before the deadline, artists can request feedback on their applications. One of our programs staff will review the application and offer section-by-section feedback, either by phone or through Submittable.

Post-panel feedback works similarly. During each grant selection panel, our staff takes notes on the discussion of applicants. Panelists may also leave written notes on applications when reviewing them online before the panel. After we send out decline notices, artists may request feedback by phone or through Submittable. In the past, this was a free service only for Artist Trust members and came with a fee of $30 for nonmembers.

Opportunities for feedback have been popular. In just a few months, we’ve had 131 artists request preliminary application feedback and 161 request post-panel feedback.

We’ve also launched Office Hours, our free grantwriting support program, where artists can meet with our staff for one-on-one consultations to learn more about grants, workshop their applications, and talk through any concerns. In 2016, over 200 artists came for Office Hours in nine cities across Washington State, and several have gone on to receive our awards.

And, finally, we are increasing promotion of award winners through press and social media campaigns, networking events, and parties. From our Annual Artist Survey, we learned one of the biggest needs of artists is building audience. We’ll continue to come up with new ways to showcase our awardees in communications and to connect artists with each other and with gatekeepers and patrons.

Most of the recent changes to our grantmaking programs were inspired by our work on racial equity and geographic diversity and our partnership with Artists Up, an experimental grant program for artists of color presented in collaboration with 4Culture and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. You can read more about Artists Up here, and you can read more about our commitment to racial equity here.  

If you have any questions about our grant programs and services, please email me. We’re excited about these changes and look forward to supporting more artists across Washington State. 

The guidelines for Artist Trust’s 2017 GAP Awards are now available here, and the online application opens on March 27.