Margate Creatives: Applying for Funding

Jas Dhillon is a multimedia practitioner inspired by the people, script, language, symbolic objects, and poetic experiences, the love and identity imprinted on her as a first-generation Indian female raised in Kent.

Jas’s recent application for Arts Council Developing Your Creative Practice funding was successful.

DYCP funding is to support individuals who are cultural and creative practitioners and want to take time to focus on their creative development.

We caught up with Jas recently at People Dem Collective, where she has a studio space, and asked her about her experience of applying for this funding and to pass on tips for anybody thinking about submitting an application in the future.

To kick off, tell us about your creative practice and the funding that you’ve been awarded.

I am a mixed media practitioner, quite early in my artist career, and make work that explores my identity as a British born Punjabi Sikh. Themes I have enjoyed working on so far include, spirituality, family, ecology, nature, devotion, and love.

I was awarded funding to further explore my practice, build a website, take a research trip to India to visit the India Art Fair and Kochi Biennale, and receive tailored mentoring.

Had you applied for any other types of funding before the DYCP application?

Nope. This was the first piece of funding I’d ever applied for!

Is the application very daunting?

To be honest it didn’t seem daunting when I first looked at it. But when you start working on it, the very small word count made it quite difficult to say all the things I felt I wanted to say.

Did you have to identify a specific project within your application?

In my case I didn’t. I was looking for a way to strengthen my practice and I had an idea of what that looked like for me. It will be different for everyone based on where they are, and the direction in which they’re looking to go.

What kind of budget detail was required?

The budgeting exercise was actually very helpful, and not as daunting as you might think. It requires you to list all the things you expect to spend your money on in order to meet the development activities you have identified for yourself. It’s like pricing a shopping list. It helps you to identify and assess if you are focusing the right amount of energy and investment in the different aspects of your development activity plan.

What kind of support did you/could you have benefited from, in terms of getting your application ready? (formatting/writing/articulating your creative practice/other)

I was very lucky, in that I received help to review and edit my submission from trusted friends who had a lot of experience with funding applications and the art sector in general. This was invaluable for me, especially as I am self-taught, with no experience of funding applications. The process highlighted to me the need to use quite specific language, and to be very concise with what I wanted to say. A very useful resource for this process and to support any type of funding application is the Funding Application Library on the White Pube website. It is a great online resource where you can read other successful applications, and it really helped me identify what makes a successful application. The funding library has examples for all types of funding application, not just DYCP.

It is important to know that if you have access support needs, DYCP has a fund of £600 available to help individual applicants to get support from someone to help them to articulate and/or practically write/submit the application with/for you. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to secure someone to do this for you, to get the maximum benefit from the support available.

Did you need to find referees familiar with your work to support your application?

An important part of the application is a supporting letter. I feel my supporting letter was a very influential factor in the success of my application. I’d advise that you take your time to think about who this might be for you. It’s important that whoever you approach has a solid understanding of your practice, capabilities and aspirations.

Did anything surprise you about the process?

 One thing that really surprised me about the application process, was how much more clarity it gave me about my practice and the direction in which I wanted to take it. The process of writing things down in a very logical and practical way, really helped me to detangle my thoughts and create an actionable way forward. If I didn’t succeed in getting the funding, the application would still have served as a great planning document, and a vehicle for accountability to myself.

Go to Arts Council England for further information on their current open funds.

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