Opportunities and Dreams! Dreamertunities? - Developing Your Creative Practice
It's been a funny year so far. January can be a quieter time for creatives in terms of business so I spent the time applying for grants and potential commissions hoping something would bear fruit later in the year.
I knew getting Arts Council funding was a longshot but I am sure the number one most common reason for not getting through is not applying at all! So I dove into research, read up on all of the generous advice that is out there and amazingly my proposal for DYCP funding was accepted! (Developing Your Creative Practice)
The next round is now open here.
I had applied for development grants etc before over the years and hadn't got past the first hurdle. The feedback I had was really useful and helped me strip it back as it's quite a small word count for the application for DYCP funding. I went over it and over it, reflected on it each day in January, devoured all of the information and advice online, of which there is heaps.
My main takeaways were to be really structured in precisely how I would spend my time and funding with a clear timetable, well researched courses that would enrich my practice and how I could give back. I noted how I would network and collaborate, improve, explore, take risks and refine and develop my practice with an organised schedule.
Don't feel restrained by solid plans, the whole point of research and development is that it can lead to such unexpected places and evolve. Don't refuse to put plans in place because you feel it stilts your freedom. Everything changes along the way but without any kind of vision it would be pretty tricky to move anywhere.
Feedback I had before when applying for other Artist Network grants (which I didn't get) was to have a clear timetable, outcome and to be realistic with the amount of money you need to really move forwards. (I would always undersell myself in the past)
Give yourself a lot of time, and sign up to the portal early, it takes a week or so for the eligibility to apply to be confirmed and the portal can be a little confusing, take it slow, be patient! More info on the portal here.
You can read previous applications that were successful here (This was SO useful!) - https://thewhitepube.co.uk/funding-library/
Rachel Dobbs has some really useful worksheets that help with mindmapping and structuring - http://rachel.we-are-low-profile.com/blog/fundraising-useful-resources/
Useful templates, although watch out as the format is ever changing when you get to the final application portal. But it's handy to go through these to get an idea of what you need to consider - https://www.the-uncultured.com/resources-arts-council-england.html
Lovely Soni Speight, a fellow illustrator who received funding earlier in the year shares her advice here too.
It's been a tricky few months, it's been hard as a small business in the current climate and I had been feeling that I was at a crossroads of really going for it and growing a much bigger production line that swallows me up and even starts to feel unethical.
Or could I focus on the dreams I have of becoming a better practitioner, slow down, take the time to work on traditional skills and more understanding of the real scientific impact creativity has on wellbeing... Within my proposal this leads on to building immersive spaces, spaces inspired by nature, forest therapies (think literal inside forests!). Spaces where people can come, attend workshops, learn skills, create and share stories, be inspired, be in the moment.
Hence my tentative explorations into workshops this year and I will be continuing Miss Ella with regards to the shop, particularly the books and kits which still have their place and I hope to make even more meaningful.
But the way in which my practice is structured and what I create, share and sell will move to a new place. Just putting those words down is triggering all sorts of feels! Excitement alongside anxiety that I will manage to live up to all of this, but that is what powers you forwards isn't it!
This period of practice starts in June (until October). So alongside running the shop I will be spending the next couple of months researching and making sure the cabin and studio space are ready for a whirlwind of growth!