Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Dublin City Council arts funding

The deadline for applications for arts funding from Dublin City Council is November 4, 2013. The council's arts officers ran a seminar on Tuesday October 15 to help people to apply.
Four things to remember: that deadline is 5pm on Monday. If you get your application in at five minutes past five, it will be refused. There are no days of grace.
If you're applying for funding, this is not given for 'arts practice' - it won't fund you sitting at home and writing your novel or painting your picture, or going to London to research your history in the libraries there. It is given as a community grant, to help the arts in Dublin, so your project must have some outreach into the community.
The council prefers for at least 30 per cent of funding to be provided by other sources - so if you have a project, get a commitment from other sources to pay for a third of it, and you'll have a better chance of your grant succeeding.
And all applications need proof backing their claims: if you say that your community group is going to have a play put on in the Abbey Theatre, you need a letter from the Abbey management saying this. "The more you can give - backup letters of support from organisations you've worked with, the more we can see of your practice," the audience was told."
City Arts Officer Ray Yeates presented a seminar and question-and-answer session on these grants in the Wood Quay conference venue on October 15, with help from arts officers Jim Doyle and Sinead Connolly, administrative officer Victoria Kearney and Jonathan Ekwe of the arts office's administrative team.
There are three types of funding, Ray Yeates said: revenue funding, project funding and neighbourhood funding.
Revenue funds groups that have an ongoing relationship with the council; no more of these are being added, this group has been capped, and the groups being currently funded are being evaluated randomly.
So that leaves project funding and neighbourhood funding, each of which offer grants ranging from €2,000 to €10,000.
The arts staff said that there are much more applications for project funding - so neighbourhood funding might be a good place to target. 
Your supporting material for your grant application - letters from artists and theatres and community groups and so on - should fit into A4 folder
The applications are read by four people - arts officers or qualifiers - with the applications randomly distributed to lessen the chance of people being swayed by knowing applicants.
Dublin is small, so the arts officers probably know nine out of ten of the applicants, but with new applicants, everyone gets interested. "At the team meeting, we start to debate, if there are new things, if there's a change in a grant, differences or exceptions," said Mr Yeates.
At this stage a shortlist is made.
Arts grants are not given by arts office, but by the City Council, they stressed. There are two external examiners - for example, last year's were visual arts curator Cliodhna Shaffrey and a playwright from Cork.
If there is a governance issue - for example, a conflict of interest or a concept that's not filled out, these examiners will look at the application.
Then two councillors come & are given all of the applications. These councillors ask searching questions - "We sometimes have to advocate for a project". 
There's more than 100 years of experience going to debate your application, between the arts officers, the councillors and the external examiners.
This procedure can be sent to you in written form - it's public and transparent. (
The core criteria used for judging applications are: 
  • Quality of artistic work - innovation, imagination, deeper thinking, work that has reframed an idea into another idea - "Knock us out," said Mr Yeates.
  • Audience being served - is there an audience and what is it.
  • Feasible project design with realistic financial projections: "If you only give €2,000 and we have to raise €10,000, how can this be realistic? Proof, for example if you've had a funded project and it worked. Common sense - we're looking for if it'll probably work."
  • Accessibility for diverse audiences and participants in terms of location, cost, people with special needs.
  • Ability to secure other source of funding, including in-kind funding (such as a free theatre, or a fashion designer who has given costumes, etc) (see specific criteria relating to different grants). "We want to see the money going on this project. You can value in-kind funding yourself - for instance, if you get a week in Smock Alley that's worth €2,000."
  • Artists' fees in accordance with professional practice. "It is OK for artists to take shares, for example, in the box office, but we prefer them to be paid. We really don't want artists to be working for nothing." The context is very important. "But if we saw most of the money going on marketing, not on the artists, that would break the criteria."
  • Public presentation of work in the city - "We represent the public - though action research projects will be considered, for example, workshops, etc in neighbourhoods. We don't fund research." 

Research projects may be covered. "If you're at home researching the impact of 17th-century arts funding on today, we won't fund that; but if you're studying impact on different communities, and going to do an installation, then that's in the public area, involving more people than just you on your own - it's action research. You need to name this community - 'hope to', 'aspire to' don't work, and you need supporting documentation showing that they agree. Verify everything. Don't say 'we're going to play at the Abbey Theatre' - prove it."
Because this funding comes from Dublin City Council, the council is only allowed to fund things that happen in Dublin.
In the case of a non-Irish person applying, "We're entirely blind to where you're from; as long as it's happening in Dublin you're as welcome as flowers in May," said Mr Yeates, to a happy laugh from the audience. "We're doing our best to engage with others who are non-Irish, non-graduates, etc."
The arts office has done an analysis of the residential spaces; 50% have gone to non-Irish applicants - and about 50% of the non-Irish are north American, so non-European. Some of these are employed to live here for a year and work, for example in the Red Stables residential studios. 
The specific criteria for Project Grants:
  • A specific thing that you want to do that will start & finish at a particular time. 
  • Quality and artistic ambition.
  • Track record of the individual or team - "Tell us about it, we'll get help to understand it. If you're new, we have to judge. We have a tiny amount of money for an enormous number of applicants. You may, for instance, form partnerships. Track record is important. If you've no track record, you've never been to college, etc, it's difficult, so show you have help."
  • Feasibility of project within known and realisable resources: "We want crazy ideas, but we want them possible. Put the thought into the left brain: time, planning, numbers. Known and realisable, not aspirational."
  • Ability to secure at least 30% of your funding from other sources. "We're an investor. We're hoping to give you a stamp of approval."
  • Budget to include professional fees 
  • Public presentation of work in Dublin City. "We're all for making things happen, and there isn't a hierarchy," said Mr Yeates.
  • Project must have a start and finish date - three months, one day, etc; better if it's within one year, but not necessary. 
If you don't use up all of the grant - if the arts office give out 100 grants and 15 come back and have difficulties, the arts office may have trouble keeping this funding. "If you get into trouble with the project, don't suddenly change the project, come back to us. Change of date isn't too bad, but change of core details will have to go into an appeals project. Sometimes it's too much of a change and we can't do it."
Who should apply: "We realise that to make something happen in the public domain you have to apply - but you may need to have a team of people. Or if it's an individual, you have to tell us how it's going to happen.
"We're very used to visual artists applying as individuals; we're not after subsidy of practice, but after a specific project - show how you'll go into a particular venue, etc."
A question from the audience: "The 30% funding requirement from partners - how do you get over the problem of funding being related to possibility of other funding - for instance 'I've got a promise of money if I do the event'?" Mr Yeates said: "You just have to have it on paper. We want the application to help your project work. Think of it as if it were your own money you were putting in: what would you believe. And the 30% needs to be - at least some of it - in cash and not in kind."
Any individual arts organisation can only be funded for a single project per year. 
The response on funding comes in January, and the project can't start before January, because the project is for a particular year. "If we can be flexible we sometimes give an indication - but without the city council voting, sometimes we can't give the grant till February because of date of council meeting - we can't give the grant without the vote."
You can draw the fund down pretty quickly when it's announced; it depends on what time of year your project takes place. "If you get your letter saying you've received funding, just contact us and say when you're starting, etc. We do have a draw-down procedure, with reporting, etc."

Neighbourhood funding criteria:
  • To animate & support local arts activity in the city. Not to support community development primarily, though it may do that powerfully.
  • To contribute to enhancing/creating a sense of local identity. For example, consider, if you're working in Inchicore and you're doing something with no local relevance 'is it a mushroom or a parachute' - are local people growing up into it.
  • Connection and interaction of the arts activity to the neighbourhood.
  • Involvement of a professional artist or artists in the project. "This is important because local people can't just think 'let's all be artists' - we want a professional input."
  • Reaching specific populations (for example,  young people, old, underserved populations) - like a project that used Muslim women in dance project using the movements they use in prayer.
  • Ability to meet cultural diverse interest through inclusion.
  • Level of involvement of participating groups, eg input into project design.
  • Ability to secure at least 30% funding from other source.

"We're not getting as many applications for neighbourhood funding as we want," said Mr Yeates.
An artist can apply for neighbourhood funding by herself, if the project has relevance to a Dublin neighbourhood.
As many as possible should be met; "otherwise I get into picking which are more important".
Almost the same percentage of the available money goes to neighbourhood and project funding; "even though we get vastly more applications for project".
Applications involving sport, for instance, are acceptable, but the project needs to be something of quality.
'Neighbourhood' refers to a specific geographic area, but a group could be in a neighbourhood. If your group straddles two areas, for instance Dublin city council and SDCC, "it's ok, but we're going to debate it". 
If you apply and fall into wrong section - you apply for neighbourhood funding when you should have applied for project - "I just cannot get over how kind people are; I've seen people say tthey applied for the wrong thing' - so applications can get sent to correct one of neighbourhood or project if the application was wrong in first place."
The arts officers will go to Vimeo or YouTube to view links in applications - "but test your links, and also give an alternative in case one link doesn't work; and don't rely on your link to make the case for you; your case has to be made in writing. Think about us - there are five of us and if you've got an error, we really can't be calling you up to ask for elucidation."
In the neighbourhood category, "we often get excellent ideas but no proof of the quality of the artist you intend to work with, and that really weakens your application".
Also, you need to document the fact that the artist is happy to work with you, happy to work in the community, etc. "Get them to say, in a letter, that they are happy and involved. Evidence, evidence, evidence. Your vision must be based on reality."

Apply here: 
Dublin City Council Arts Office

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Chicken Normandy, a delicious winter treat

In the depths of winter, come home to this Norman treat, a chicken stew combining the rich meaty taste of chicken, the sweet of apples, the tart of dry cider, the salt of bacon and savoury of moutarde à l'ancienne, and the umami of mushrooms. This is the low-fat version; if you like fat, replace the yogurt with cream and don't skin the chicken.

Chicken Normandy
Serves four people
One chicken
A pint of good dry cider
Four onions
Four apples
Four streaky rashers or some lardons
2 tablespoons grain mustard
One cup yogurt
Four large flat mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups rice - I like Basmatti - rinsed and boiled till fluffy

Joint and skin a chicken. Fry off the pieces in good olive oil. Add four onions, peeled but whole, and four apples, peeled, cored and chopped, and a container of lardons from Lidl or four streaky rashers. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add two tablespoons of grainy mustard and a pint of good cider ('hard cider' if you're American). Cover and cook for an hour, giving an occasional stir, then take off a cup of the liquor and add it slowly to a cup of good yogurt (Lidl's Greek yogurt is good). Add this back in gradually to the other ingredients as they cook, and add four big flat mushrooms. Stir, cover and cook for a further 30 minutes. Serve over rice or with crusty bread.