Funding opportunities for digital writers through Arts Council England

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The Writing Platform has partnered with Arts Council England to run an advice session about funding for digital writers.

The event is taking place on Wednesday 8th April, 6.30pm – 8.30pm at
Arts Council’s London offices 21 Bloomsbury street, London, WC1B 3HF

Places are free but limited to 20. To book your place email Charlotte Aston on charlotte[dot]aston[at]artscouncil[dot]org[dot]uk

Have you pressed pause on an ambitious multimedia writing project while you work out what comes next? Are you a writer experimenting with digital technology and need some time to really delve in? Are you exploring the intersection of story, narrative, technology and design? Did you know that you could apply to Arts Council England for financial support?

As a Relationship Manager in the literature team, I advise individual writers at all stages of their careers to develop funding proposals for Grants for the arts, our open funding programme.

I’ve heard all the excuses. The application form is too long. The questions are too confusing. The likelihood of success is too small. In response I say the funding process is incredibly competitive so you will have to spend time developing a strong application and there is a chance your bid will be rejected. On the other hand, Grants for the arts exists to help artists and arts organisations of all kinds realise their ideas. So why not your idea? Why not you?

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. Achieving great art for everyone is our 10-year strategic plan, which contains priorities for supporting artistic talent at all stages of an individual’s career.

Writers can apply for a range of literary projects, including artistic collaborations, forays with digital technology, mentoring, research and development, storytelling and time to write. We focus primarily on funding activities relating to original fiction and poetry. We also consider activities with creative approaches to literary non-fiction.

Over the years, writers have asked for funding to enable them to complete poetry collections, pamphlets, stories and novels. Many have been published and printed, some have been projected and performed, a few have existed fleetingly or only ever online. We’ve funded spoken word artists to develop brand new multimedia shows, poets to undertake residencies within digital worlds and authors to deliver innovative writing and technology projects in schools, libraries and galleries.

We want readers in England to enjoy the multiplicity of voices that reflect the society we live in. So we want to support a diverse range of writers and genres of literature including children’s authors and illustrators, editors, graphic novelists, new media writers, novelists, poets, producers and translators to develop their skills, explore ideas, showcase their talents and reach new audiences. From our research, we know that writers experimenting with new forms of writing that make use of digital platforms need support to understand the possibilities in this dynamic area. We particularly welcome applications from these kinds of writers.

What else can we tell you? Grants for the arts funds projects, rather than ongoing activity. You’ll need to frame your idea into a well-argued project proposal, with a distinct time frame and outcome. It is a rolling programme with budgets spread across the year, so when you apply should not affect your chances of success.

Your track record will be taken into consideration when we decide whether to support your activity, so writers who have delivered successful writing projects or who have been traditionally published are often in a better position to demonstrate artistic quality. We fund organisations like Arvon, The Literary Consultancy, the Poetry School, The Writing Platform and regional literature development agencies to offer a range of services for writers early on in their careers.

One question you should ask yourself is whether now is the right time. It is important that you demonstrate how the activity will lead to significant artistic or professional development. You need to show that the funding will support you at a crucial point in your writing life.

Public engagement is another important consideration, even for time to write and research grants. Applications can be rejected if it is not clear how the work will be available to readers or audiences. You should think about ways in which the project will reach members of the public during the funded period and also beyond the life of the grant. This might be through publication, live events or an online showcase. Be clear on this, and as specific as possible.

Grants for the arts aims to be light touch, which means that you are assessed on what you’ve submitted in your application alone. Make sure you have provided enough information, as you won’t be chased for clarification!

Ready? Your next step is to browse the Grants for the arts pages of Arts Council England’s website, which includes an information sheet about literature projects.

If you need further inspiration, you can read about Martin Jackson’s work, Resident in Maps, which was supported by Grants for the arts; and you can watch spoken word performer, Polarbear, talk about how Grants for the arts has enabled him to develop his work in this video:

If your project has an international element then you might like to consider the Artists’ international development programme which offers opportunities individual artists, writers and producers to build links with creators and cultural organisations in another country.

And if you’re interested in technology in the arts you can keep up to date with trends and opportunities over on  The Space, a website for artists and audiences to create and explore new digital arts projects, set up by Arts Council England and the BBC.

The Writing Platform has partnered with Arts Council England to run an advice session about funding for digital writers.

The event is taking place on Wednesday 8th April, 6.30pm – 8.30pm at
Arts Council’s London offices 21 Bloomsbury street, London, WC1B 3HF

Places are free but limited to 20. To book your place email Charlotte Aston on charlotte[dot]aston[at]artscouncil[dot]org[dot]uk

Gemma Seltzer works in the literature team at Arts Council England. She advises all kinds of individual writers – from poets and novelists to authors of children’s and digital literature – at all stages of their careers to develop funding proposals and realise projects. Gemma is particularly keen to support artists less represented in the mainstream and exciting, innovative writer-led projects that find new ways to engage readers and audiences.

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