BWS 11.09.16: Ten Tips, with Natasha Powell

Natasha Powell Headshot

Natasha Powell is a Toronto-based dancer, choreographer, producer, and the Interim Dance & Literary Officer at the Toronto Arts Council.  A Toronto native, Natasha is a dedicated member of the local performing arts community and has worked for a number of arts organizations including the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, ManifesTO Festival for Community and Culture, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, and Volcano Theatre. As an independent dance artist, Natasha has successfully produced and choreographed shows in the Toronto Fringe Festival, TD Bank’s Then and Now Series, and Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps series. Most recently she was the Manager of Producing and Administration at the Dance Umbrella of Ontario, working with a number of dance organizations where her portfolio included event producing, marketing, fundraising and communications for companies including Dusk Dances and MOonhORsE Dance Theatre.

Natasha gave the talk “Best Practices in Grant Writing” at our September 2016 event, and here provides 10 tips for applying for grants.

1. Call the Officer to determine eligibility
Whether you’re a first time applicant or have applied to the council previously, it is helpful to speak with the Program Officer to confirm that you and/or your organization are eligible to apply, and that the proposed project is also eligible.


2. Make sure your project description is clear
Your project description is where you tell the assessors what it is you’re writing about. Provide as much detail as possible about structure, which draft you are on, where this sample fits into the project, etc.

3. Submit your strongest material – not what you think a jury will fund
You can never predict what the jury will say. Juries change every time, and are all quite different. Focus on submitting your strongest writing from the proposed project and nothing else.

4. Submit a sample of the current project you are working on
Jurors want to see a sample of the current work, not a past work.

5. Use the entire allotment for the writing sample
The Toronto Arts Council asks for a maximum of 15 pages for prose and 10 pages for poetry, so use as much of the space as you can. Even though many adjudicators have a strong sense of their assessment of the writing on the first page, they do keep reading on.


6. Review the assessment criteria
Each application is different – remember to review the application criteria to ensure you understand how the adjudicators will be assessing the applications.

7. Focus on your art and describing what it is you do
Do not present a marketing package, and refrain from comparing your work to that of others. Connect who you are to the specific project that you are applying for, and how it relates to your organization.

8. Be specific about as many details as possible
Don’t leave the adjudicators with unanswered questions. For example, be as clear as possible about what it is you’re doing, who is involved and why, who your target audience is, and how you are going to reach them. Same thing for your budget – explain which revenues are pending and confirmed, and how your project will move forward should you not be able to achieve your projected revenue goals.

9. Write in your own voice with minimal jargon
Your application is often being adjudicated by other artists in your discipline, so explain your project as though you are talking to your peers who know nothing about your work or project.

10. Ask for feedback and keep going
Whether your application was successful or unsuccessful, call the officer for feedback, and take the results – positive or negative – with a grain of salt. Competition is high, and feedback is helpful for future applications so keep pursuing your projects.

Check back after our next event for another 10 tips from our next guest speaker–and before that, see you at our next event: November 9, 6:30pm,  at full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto!


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