Australia Council of the Arts- Grant Application Advice

May 5, 2020

We were recently unsuccessful in two rounds of Arts Council of Australia grant applications… but found the advice that they then provided AFTER the rejections really useful for our future applications.

We thought we would share it to help future authors looking to get some funds to write important texts.

February 2020 round feedback: 

September 2019 round general feedback:

The assessors encouraged emerging writers to show a strategy for their creative development.

They suggested that established writers should show enthusiasm for their project and go into detail about what they were doing and why they were uniquely equipped to do it.

They reminded applicants that in a highly competitive environment it’s vital to make a compelling case for funding, and to pick the very best and most relevant writing sample in the genre of the project to demonstrate writing ability.

The assessors encouraged applicants not to undervalue their own labour in the context of the project. Time to write, and a request for general living expenses such as rent, food, childcare is entirely legitimate. They advised that applicants should be true to their needs, and budget to cover their costs for the length of the project.

They suggested that applicants should provide detailed budgets when applying for funding for travel or research expenses, payment of editors’, mentors’ or dramaturges’ fees, or production costs and collaboration fees. They encouraged applicants to refer to industry standard rates for any collaborators or for themselves where relevant.

They advised that applications for projects that overlap with academic research or study should make clear that the request for funding is for a part of the project that is distinct both from assessable coursework, and from work that is already funded by an academic institution.

The assessors were impressed by strong letters of support and enjoyed the inclusion of letters from readers.

The assessors encouraged non-fiction writers to make a clear case for the literary merit of their writing, to distinguish it from reporting.

The assessors appreciated applications that were clear and succinct and that expressed passion for the project. They particularly appreciated clearly labelled support material provided as pdfs.

The assessors encouraged applicants to proofread their proposal. Spelling mistakes don’t disqualify an application but, as you are applying for a literature grant, they may undermine your credibility as a professional writer.

The most competitive applications:

  • included project descriptions that clearly outlined the project
  • inspired confidence in the applicant’s ability to undertake the project
  • conveyed a sense of passion about and personal investment in the project
  • explained how the applicant would manage creative challenges when working in a new form or genre
  • demonstrated an awareness of where the applicant and their work were situated in the context of the genre, and, more broadly, of Australian literature
  • included strong letters of support relevant to the project
  • provided samples from the proposed work where possible
  • provided samples in the genre of the proposed work, and provided context for the choice of material
  • demonstrated the writing ability of the applicant, with a clear and compelling account of the aims and processes involved
  • clearly articulated the contribution the project would make to Australian literary culture
  • included a sample from the proposed work. Remember that you can include a sample from the manuscript as well as from a more polished work.

The less competitive applications:

  • did not provide creative support material in the genre of the project
  • assumed the assessors were familiar with the applicant’s work and career
  • didn’t demonstrate the applicant’s capacity to deliver on the ambition of the project
  • included lukewarm letters of support
  • did not go into detail about what was driving the project – the who, what, where, when, why and how

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