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Help Desk 4 Creatives: Welcome to the Help Desk

By Merritt Minnemeyer
arttimesjournal May 16, 2017

We are inherently creative. As humans, we naturally draw inspiration from our environment, and interpret it into every day practice, whether we are conscious of it or not. Artists, of course, are very aware of the creative process and use it to offer reflection, beauty, and powerful emotional connection to the collective culture. Where artists often falter, however, is applying those gifts in practical matters. As the recently installed Grants & Funding Manager at Arts Mid-Hudson, an arts council in New York’s Hudson Valley, I have made it my mission to assist artists and creatives in employing their innate gifts in service of their own financial health and business development.

When artists cross our office threshold asking wearily for solutions to their funding woes, we get it. Researching, applying for, and administrating what is essentially other people’s money for the sake of your invaluable work is often an exercise in existentialism; it can be as fatiguing as it is foreign to the arts-focused mind. The process often leaves a creative person shaking her/his fist at the heavens, calling out “Why can’t this be easier?”

Here’s what I see though, that many artists tend not to see: all of that procedure can be PART of your creativity. “Huh (you are thinking)? But hear me out on this. What if I told you that, like just about everything else, it is a matter of perspective?

By virtue of that creativity, you have the incredible ability to adjust your point of view. Rather than grappling with the funding process as an impediment to your success, what would happen if you were to see it as a vehicle for your success? Imagine that the prognostic assessments of your financial wellness, sustainability analyses, and marketing projections were in fact in place to set you up to flourish. Perhaps then the 10 pages of arduous application forms could transmute from the dark path in the Haunted Woods to the Yellow Brick Road right before your very eyes. Creative magic.

Here’s how to begin: chose one of your most salient creative gifts and apply it to the paperwork. If you are a wordsmith, start by deconstructing the language before you and translating into something that makes sense for you. If you work in visual media, imagine achieving the goals set forth in the funding program’s guidelines in our mind’s eye, and then use your skills to “paint” that picture for the reader. If the picture doesn’t gel, re-examine the guidelines and make sure they make sense for you before pouring more precious time and energy into it. Funding is meant to work symbiotically for you and the funder in most cases, and in some cases it is meant solely for your benefit – not the other way around. If you can develop some mastery around the practical skills by changing your approach, new worlds will open up. I see it all the time.

In the coming months we are delighted to be offering information and guidance about grants & funding, along with other professional development topics for arttimesjournal. We’d love to hear from you! If you have questions you’d like answered, please contact us at grants@artsmidhudson.org and we’ll do our best to address them. In the meantime, please visit us online at artsmidhudscon.org if you are in the Hudson Valley area to learn more about events, workshops, and services we provide to artists. If you are elsewhere, check out your local or regional arts council to see what they have to offer. You might be pleasantly surprised at all the help available for artists out there!

Merritt is the Grants & Funding Manager at Arts Mid-Hudson, an arts service organization serving Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster Counties in New York's Hudson Valley. She lives in Ulster County with her three vibrant sons, and two goofy pound pups, and one remarkably darling husband.