Grant Application Tips for the Expeditions Touring Program

Daniela Jacobson
Program Manager, Presenting & Touring/Accessibility Coordinator

NEFA’s Expeditions Touring grant program brings engaging, innovative tours to New England communities. New England nonprofits are eligible to apply for tour funding to present high quality performing artists of all disciplines and to develop community activities. The upcoming Expeditions deadline is February 18, 2015 for the June 1, 2015 - August 31, 2016 touring period. If you are applying, please be sure to carefully review the program guidelines, funding criteria, and instructions.

The application process for Expeditions is highly collaborative. An Expeditions proposal for a project must include at least three New England nonprofit organizational partners in geographically separate communities from at least two states. Note all presenters seeking funding are required to submit their own applications. One of the partners must serve as a “lead partner” and must answer two additional narrative questions and provide the artist's work sample.

If you are ready to begin your Expeditions Touring application, here are a few important tips for your narrative responses:

Funding Criteria #1: A high level of artistic quality, exploration, and creativity.

Lead Partner Narrative Question: Describe the overall project including an explanation of artistic quality, exploration, and creativity as well as the significance of this project touring New England.

Helpful Hints for Lead Partner
 Your narrative should address the background of the project and the quality of the artist.
• The panel is looking for projects that are artistically strong AND show a high level of exploration and creativity in their artistry.

Narrative Question: Why is your organization participating in this project? Please explain the significance of having the featured artist(s) in your community.

Helpful Hints 
 Draw specific links between this artist and your community: Why are you presenting this artist? Why now? Why is this artist relevant for your community?
 This is your opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the project.

Funding Criteria #2: Evidence of collaborative planning in key areas among project partners and artists. The featured artist(s) should be included in project planning.

Lead Partner Narrative Question: What collaborative planning has occurred among project partners and the featured artist(s) to date? Please identify all partner organizations and their project engagement dates.

Helpful Hints for Lead Partner
 Double check partners and dates because errors look like an indication of a weak partnership.
 Fully describe the collaborative planning. This may include conference calls, sharing study guides or a scholar, sharing expertise, meeting in-person, going to see the performance in each other’s venues, collaborative marketing or press outreach.
 Include the artist in planning whenever possible because it usually makes for a stronger project.

Funding Criteria #3: Contextual, educational, and adjunct activities featuring the artist in the project (e.g., workshops, lecture-demonstrations) which meaningfully engage various sectors of the community. Cross-sector exchange (connecting arts and non-arts organizations) and collaboration is strongly encouraged.

Narrative Question: What contextual, educational, and adjunct activities are planned around your engagement to meaningfully engage with various sectors of your community? Please list specific activities being planned.

Helpful Hints
• Clearly explain the activities and who you expect to attend each activity.
• Explain how the activities will provide meaningful engagement for those you intend to reach.
• If you are working with community partners from other sectors then specify who they are and how the project relates to their work.

Funding Criteria #4: Extend the arts to populations whose opportunities are limited by geography, economics, or disability.

Narrative Question: Who will be served by this project and what has been done to diversify community participation? Please include how you plan to reach portions of your community whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, economics, or disability.

Helpful Hints
 How is the population you are reaching limited by geography, economics, or disability? Be specific and back up your claims with objective statistics.
 Don’t make assumptions about certain populations being underserved/limited. Explain your community as you would to someone who has never been there. A combination of anecdotes and statistics makes the best case.
 DO NOT make generalities i.e. our target audience is all the local music lovers or every student in the college.
 Make sure the population you are reaching is relevant for the project and state why.
 How are you reaching these populations? Be specific about strategies and relationships.

Funding Criteria #5: Evidence of well-planned promotion and marketing, including connections that extend and deepen the reach of the project.

Narrative Question: What are the promotional and marketing plans specifically for presenting this artist that will extend and deepen the typical reach of your organization?

Helpful Hints
 This is a good place to include numbers and show your reach. Numbers of brochures mailed, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, etc.
 DO NOT copy and paste your season’s marketing plan. Make your answer specific to each artist engagement.
• Social media can mean many things. Be specific about what platform you are using, how you’re using it, and why.

Funding Criteria #6: A budget that reflects revenue from a variety of sources including admissions, sponsorships, private foundations, individuals, and/or government agencies.

Narrative Question: How do you plan to obtain additional funding support for this engagement?

Helpful Hints
• It’s okay to charge to admission
• Don’t just count on NEFA and admissions
• List potential sources that are not yet confirmed

Most importantly, be specific in your responses. Strong applications meet the funding criteria to the fullest extent possible and demonstrate strong collaboration between all partners. The Presenting & Touring program staff is always happy to speak with you about the process and answer any questions!

Adrienne Petrillo, Program Manager
617-951-0010 ext. 527

Daniela Jacobson, Program Coordinator
617-951-0010 ext. 528

Photo credit: Ben Barnhart