Denise smiles away from the camera, while wearing a pink knitted scarf
writer, artist, educator, and consultant
Creative City grantwriting workshop attendees, by Jeffrey Filiault/NEFA

If you couldn’t make it to the Creative City grantwriting workshop, here are some resources for putting together a great proposal. Resources 1-6 are specific to Creative City, but 7-12 are valuable for any grant application. 

  1. Carefully read detailed guidelines and eligibility criteria. Look for funding sources that match up with what you’re really interested in doing as an artist. Look at which projects received grants in the past to see whether the opportunity fits you and your project.

  2. Sketch out a detailed artistic vision for your project. The Dreaming and Drawing worksheet, which breaks down questions from the application, will guide you. Take plenty of time for this activity before jumping into the online application.

  3. Define how your project will have an impact on the community as well as on your own artistic development. Brainstorm those attributes with this worksheet. A common vocabulary for talking about art for the public realm can clarify your own goals and help you describe your project for funders.

    To explore these attributes in depth, check out the Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence in Arts for Change - Performing Artist Companion Guide. Published by Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts and useful for artists of all disciplines, this guide outlines distinctions between three different ways that artists make work with and for the public.

  4. Envision where in the City of Boston your project will take place. Use these Boston city maps (1, 2) to help you. Ask yourself why are you interested in doing this project in this particular neighborhood(s)? Are you aiming to deeply engage with a particular community? Are you looking to spark imagination across multiple communities?

  5. You must have at least one Boston-based community partner to apply for a Creative City grant. Begin conversations with your potential partner(s) at least three weeks before the deadline, if you can. Good partnerships are essential to a successful project. Here are some questions to think about as you do this work.

  6. Draft letters of support for your partners. This makes life easier for you AND the busy folks at your partner organization(s)! Include details about what you each agreed to bring to the project when you talked. Email them the draft with plenty of time before the deadline. Once you both agree on how you’ll work together, all they need to do is put it on their letterhead, sign it, and scan/email or fax it back to you.

    Your letter of support of support for Creative City should demonstrate your relationship with at least one Boston-based community partner and their intentions to support the implementation, artistic process, and/or presentation of the artist’s project.

  7. Define what success will look like. Envision yourself at the end of your project. Imagine the best possible result. Write in vivid, specific detail about what you did artistically, who you worked with, how you worked together, what the process was like, and what positive things--meaningful for your art practice, meaningful for the community--came out of it.

  8. Then work backwards. Think: realistically, to achieve the results you’ve envisioned, what do you need to do in the months leading up to that? How much money do you need to make this happen? Create a rough draft using these worksheets for timeline / workplan and project budget.

    Pro tips: All project activities covered by the grant must take place during the grant year. Pay yourself an artist fee! Consider paying an assistant to help with logistical and administrative support. Budget for marketing and good photo and video documentation. At this point you may realize you need to scale down your project somewhat. That’s OK.
  9. Set your project up for success and think about how you will measure it. This rubric, adapted from Artists Thrive, is a tool for defining what “thriving” looks like for an artist during a project for the public realm. Consider this as you prepare your work plan. Artists don’t always measure our success by how much money we make or how many people we reach, so we need other ways to evaluate what and how we’re doing.

  10. Choose your work samples with care. They must be of high quality and convince the review panel, right off the bat, that you have the skills to carry out your idea! Ask another artist to look at them and give you feedback.

  11. Leave yourself plenty of time to draft, revise, and proofread your proposal narrative. Review these essential grantwriting tips on writing style and process.

  12. Register and log in to the grant application system and preview all application questions and submission requirements well in advance.  Upload your work samples and other attachments a few days before deadline. Leave yourself plenty of time to edit your work to fit length requirements and enter your responses into the online form. Nothing is worse than doing all that work and then running into technical problems at the last minute!



Denise Delgado, by Jeffrey Filiault/NEFA

Denise Delgado is a writer, artist, educator and consultant. A Creative City grantee, her ongoing project, Bodega Signs + Wonders, collects stories and oral histories from residents and merchants in Jamaica Plain/Roxbury's Egleston Square and transforms them into poetry, public art, and business signage in the neighborhood’s commercial district. Denise’s fiction and critical essays have appeared in literary journals, exhibition catalogs, arts publications, and media outlets. She is the recipient of grants from the New England Foundation for the Arts, Alternate ROOTS/The Ford Foundation, Tigertail Productions' Artist Access Program, and Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, among others. She has worked as a grantwriting consultant with nonprofit arts and community organizations and performing arts groups to secure funding from private and family foundations as well as government and corporate funders.