FAQ – Art Grants

Q: What is the purpose of this grant program?

A: These art grants are intended to help defray the costs of materials related to creating and presenting works of art. They are not intended to cover labor costs, buy tools, or pay for personal transportation costs.

Q: Where can I show my work?

A: Anywhere you want, but we would like to know your plans, and for our supporters to see the finished project. In your grant agreement, one or more events sponsored by BURN, or well attended by supporters of BURN, will be required. Events sponsored by BURN include Chicago Decompression, the “We Burn” gallery show, Town Hall and Pow Wow. Events well attended by supporters of BURN include Burning Man, Lakes of Fire, Burners without Borders-Chicago programs, Chiditarod, Resonate, and Ripple Effect. Other events may be eligible if you convince the committee in your application.

Q: Who is eligible?

A: Anyone is eligible to to apply for an art grant.

Q: What if I don’t complete my project?

If, for any reason, you cannot complete the project, BURN requires the return of the funds granted. If there are funds remaining after the project is completed, those must be returned to BURN so that they may be “recycled” and used to support other artists.

Q: Can I get more than one grant?

A: You can only get 1 grant per grant cycle.

Q: Can I re-apply for a grant?

A: Yes you can. You may ask for funding in as many grant cycles as you wish. You may also apply for funding for some other aspect of your project that you didn’t seek funding for on the last go-around. When you submit your grant in the first place, there is a check box on the app to be considered for the next grant cycle. You can email us to let us know that you already have an application in queue, and ask us to re-evaluate it for the next cycle. (Keep in mind: If there were problems with your proposal last time, they’re probably still there.) BUT!! You can update your application! Make changes to respond to previous feedback, and make it even slicker and better, and even more irresistible.

Q: Once I win a grant, I’m In like Flynn, right?

A: Not exactly…. Since the grant process is competitive, the award of a grant in one cycle does not guarantee funding in subsequent cycles. It all depends on how well you explain that magnificent creation you’re building. Also, the panel will consider compliance with previous grant contracts and reporting requirements. The committee might fund the entire amount requested, or a portion, or even none. We have approved some elements, and rejected others of some of the projects we’ve funded. For example, the grants are never intended to pay for a performer’s gas to get to an event, so a line item in that amount would be removed from the requested grant.

Q: How are grant applications evaluated?

A: We carefully review all the grant applications received. We consider the vision that you’ve described, what it is for, how well it is described, how feasible the project is, and how reasonable the cost estimates are (accurate budgeting is very important!). When considering funding a project we look at the following aspects of your proposed project:

QUALITY:

  • Creativity
  • Interactivity
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Originality
  • Excitement
  • Inspiration
  • Social value

EXECUTION

  • Feasibility: Planning, Budget, Time line
  • Safety procedures
  • Leave-No-Trace plan
  • Past work

The committee may also consider other areas but this gives you an idea of what we are looking for in your application.

Q: Budget? Do I have to have a budget?

A: Yes. You HAVE to have a budget. For several reasons: Part of being a successful artist is the ability to track and manage your funds. You have to figure out if what you want to do is even remotely realistic, financially. Your budget is your BEST tool in explaining what you’re doing, how much it’s going to cost, where you think that money might be coming from, and why you want and need us to share these valuable, community-raised resources.

Q: What are the sizes of the grants?

A: The grants awarded to date range from just a few dollars up to $500 or more! That all depends on the amount of funding and the number of applications received. Just remember – no one person (or group) will get more than 25% of the total grant amount per year.

Q: Who ‘owns’ the work?

A: The artist or collaboration that produces the work retains both ownership and copyright. BURN is simply helping artists, and asks for no ownership of the produced work. BURN does ask for publicity rights, though.

Q: You ask for publicity?

A: BURN asks that all grant recipients place the phrase “Funded in part by BURN – Bold Urban Renaissance Network, NFP” in any printed documents (and web pages) about the work. We also will request a license to display images and descriptions of the work for publicity (such as on our web page) and for not-for-profit purposes.

Q: What’s the application cycle?

A: Grant application deadlines are published on the BURN website. There are two to three major grant cycles each year, typically: Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Q. What are the artist’s responsibilities?

A: Here’s a summary (there is a more complete description in the grant contract):
Complete your work. Keep BURN updated via progress reports. Abide by the contract. Save and submit ALL receipts. Talk to us. Let us know how things are going. Let us know where you are displaying your work. (Arrange tickets if necessary so a BURN representative can see the work.)
Provide credit for the support given in print and web materials. Give a final report for the project and your experience with BURN.

Q. Do I have to write a huge book to get a grant?

A. Nope…we encourage short, sweet, but thorough descriptions. Your statement of purpose is used to describe what you are trying to communicate with your project. What is your mission/philosophy/goal/inspiration…if any? Please keep this short and to the point at 400 WORDS or less. Simple answers are not judged harshly. (Hey, we have to read all these things.)

Q: How is this related to Burning Man?

A: The Arts Grant committee is a sub-committee of Bold Urban Renaissance Network (BURN), an independent Illinois not-for-profit organization.  Members of BURN’s steering committee include Chicago’s Burning Man Regional Contacts.  BURN does align with Burning Man’s 10 Principles through our events and general ethos.

Q: Does our art have to be interactive / participatory?

A: One of the 10 Principles is that everyone should participate. In keeping with this ethos, participatory art is encouraged and interactivity is a judging category.

Q: What about Transportation Costs?

A: The Art Grants Committee may include an allotment for transportation to help transport larger art pieces over and above the cost an artist might incur for their own personal transport. For example: if an art piece needs a trailer, because it won’t fit into the back of your ’62 VW Beetle, then a grant might include a transportation component. Grant funds are not intended to cover your own personal transportation to/from an event, or the transport of any materials, costumes, effects, supplies, tickets, etc. that you would normally carry yourself. The very essence of Burning Man is participatory. We all spend our time, money, and efforts to give back to our community. Hence, the grant won’t cover costs to transport something that we are already bringing. The spirit of the grant process is to help support art that can’t be created, or created as ‘big’, or can’t get to ‘the show’ without those grants.

Q: What about Performance Art?

A: Damn it, we love you all, we really do. Let us kiss you, because these grants are probably not the way we will get to show you love. Really, with this money, we’re supposed to be looking to the creation of “stuff.” The conception of the program, at this time, is oriented toward “pieces” of art rather than “performances” of art, placing the focus on materials. Unfortunately, for those that come and ‘do’ something, that is a harder, up-hill battle.
As we stated above, everyone’s got expenses, so we aren’t paying for the usual costs for performers, including most tools of the trade. If you have something else in mind that’s new and doesn’t land in those no-no categories, send us an application. Write a really excellent proposal that explains what materials need to be purchased for your performance art (art being a widely defined concept), how they are not part of the ‘usual’ activities, and show that there is a realistic budget and timeline. Blow our minds.

Q: My project doesn’t seem to fit into your guidelines. Should I still apply?

A: Yes! “Art” is a pretty broad term. We’ve already talked about what we want to fund, and can’t fund…but hey, we’re open to being convinced. Tell us a compelling, original story. Describe your vision. Give us a legitimate, well thought out budget and application. Convince us. Come on, we wanna do it…talk us into it.

Q: So if I apply for a grant, I’ll probably get one?

A: Not necessarily. See everything above. We do say “no” if an application is poorly written, doesn’t describe what the art project is, has a craaaaazy budget, is clearly not feasible, or is just not in keeping with the goals of the grant process. If this happens, we’ll tell you why we said ‘no’ so you can evolve your project for re-consideration.

Q: I’ve never filled one of these out before.  What do I do!?

A: Read through the entire FAQ. Read the Sample Application. Get a friend to help you. Ask us…we might be able to provide some guidance. Take a swing at it – you might find that you like writing after all. We can offer our advice on why a particular grant wasn’t approved after the grant cycle is concluded – to help you better prepare for the next grant cycle, if you want it. It’s not like we’ll chase you down and take money AWAY from you just for applying.

Q: Will you be placing my art at events?

A: No, you’ll need to contact the event placement coordinator. Sure, we’ll work with the event planners to let ‘em know what we’re funding so that they have an idea of what to expect – but we aren’t the placement folks.

Q: What is the purpose of this grant program?

A: These art grants are intended to help defray the costs of materials related to creating and presenting works of art. They are not intended to cover labor costs, buy tools, or pay for personal transportation costs.

Q: Where can I show my work?

A: Anywhere you want, but we would like to know your plans, and for our supporters to see the finished project. In your grant agreement, one or more events sponsored by BURN, or well attended by supporters of BURN, will be required. Events sponsored by BURN include Chicago Decompression, the “We Burn” gallery show, Town Hall and Pow Wow. Events well attended by supporters of BURN include Burning Man, Lakes of Fire, Burners without Borders-Chicago programs, Chiditarod, Resonate, and Ripple Effect. Other events may be eligible if you convince the committee in your application.

Q: Who is eligible?

A: Anyone is eligible to to apply for an art grant.

Q: What if I don’t complete my project?

If, for any reason, you cannot complete the project, BURN requires the return of the funds granted. If there are funds remaining after the project is completed, those must be returned to BURN so that they may be “recycled” and used to support other artists.

Q: Can I get more than one grant?

A: You can only get one grant per grant cycle.

Q: Can I re-apply for a grant?

A: Yes you can. You may ask for funding in as many grant cycles as you wish. You may also apply for funding for some other aspect of your project that you didn’t seek funding for on the last go-around. When you submit your grant in the first place, there is a check box on the app to be considered for the next grant cycle. You can email us to let us know that you already have an application in queue, and ask us to re-evaluate it for the next cycle. (Keep in mind: If there were problems with your proposal last time, they’re probably still there.) BUT!! You can update your application! Make changes to respond to previous feedback, and make it even slicker and better, and even more irresistible.

Q: Once I win a grant, I’m In like Flint, right?

A: Not exactly…. Since the grant process is competitive, the award of a grant in one cycle does not guarantee funding in subsequent cycles. It all depends on how well you explain that magnificent creation you’re building. Also, the panel will consider compliance with previous grant contracts and reporting requirements. The committee might fund the entire amount requested, or a portion, or even none. We have approved some elements, and rejected others of some of the projects we’ve funded. For example, the grants are never intended to pay for a performer’s gas to get to an event, so a line item in that amount would be removed from the requested grant.

Q: How are grant applications evaluated?

A: We carefully review all the grant applications received. We consider the vision that you’ve described, what it is for, how well it is described, how feasible the project is, and how reasonable the cost estimates are (accurate budgeting is very important!). When considering funding a project we look at the following aspects of your proposed project:

QUALITY:

  • Creativity
  • Interactivity
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Originality
  • Excitement
  • Inspiration
  • Social value

EXECUTION

  • Feasibility: Planning, Budget, Time line
  • Safety procedures
  • Leave-No-Trace plan
  • Past work

The committee may also consider other areas but this gives you an idea of what we are looking for in your application.

Q: Budget? Do I have to have a budget?

A: Yes. You HAVE to have a budget. For several reasons: Part of being a successful artist is the ability to track and manage your funds. You have to figure out if what you want to do is even remotely realistic, financially.  Your budget is your BEST tool in explaining what you’re doing, how much it’s going to cost, where you think that money might be coming from, and why you want and need us to share these valuable, community-raised resources.

Q: What are the sizes of the grants?

A: The grants awarded to date range from just a few dollars up to $500 – but that all depends on the amount of funding and the number of applications received. Just remember – no one person (or group) will get more than 25% of the total grant amount per year.

Q: Who ‘owns’ the work?

A: The artist or collaboration that produces the work retains both ownership and copyright. BURN is simply helping artists, and asks for no ownership of the produced work.  BURN does ask for publicity rights, though.

Q: You ask for publicity?

A: BURN asks that all grant recipients place the phrase “Funded in part by BURN – Bold Urban Renaissance Network, NFP” in any printed documents (and web pages) about the work.  We also will request a license to display images and descriptions of the work for publicity (such as on our web page) and for not-for-profit purposes.

Q: What’s the application cycle?

A: Grant application deadlines are published on the BURN website. There are two to three major grant cycles each year, typically: Winter, Spring, and Summer.

Q. What are the artist’s responsibilities?

A: Here’s a summary (there is a more complete description in the grant contract):
Complete your work. Keep BURN updated via progress reports. Abide by the contract.  Save and submit ALL receipts.  Talk to us. Let us know how things are going.  Let us know where you are displaying your work. (Arrange tickets if necessary so a BURN representative can see the work.)
Provide credit for the support given in print and web materials.  Give a final report for the project and your experience with BURN.

Q. Do I have to write a huge book to get a grant?

A. Nope…we encourage short, sweet, but thorough descriptions. Your statement of purpose is used to describe what you are trying to communicate with your project. What is your mission/philosophy/goal/inspiration…if any? Please keep this short and to the point at 400 WORDS or less. Simple answers are not judged harshly. (Hey, we have to read all these things.)

Q: How is this related to Burning Man?

A: The Art Grants Committee is a sub-committee of Bold Urban Renaissance Network (BURN), an independent not-for-profit organization.  Members of BURN’s Steering Committee include Chicago’s Burning Man Regional contacts.  BURN does align with Burning Man’s 10 Principles through our events and general ethos.

Q: Does our art have to be interactive / participatory?

A: One of the principles of Burning Man and its art is that everyone should participate. In keeping with this ethos, participatory art is encouraged.

Q: What about Transportation Costs?

A: The Art Grants Committee may include an allotment for transportation to help transport larger art pieces over and above the cost an artist might incur for their own personal transport.  For example: if an art piece needs a trailer, because it won’t fit into the back of your ’62 VW Beetle, then a grant might include a transportation component.  Grant funds are not intended to cover your own personal transportation to/from an event, or the transport of any materials, costumes, effects, supplies, tickets, etc. that you would normally carry yourself.  The very essence of Burning Man is participatory. We all spend our time, our money, and our efforts to give back to our community. Hence, the grant won’t cover costs to transport something that we already are bringing. The spirit of the grant process is to help support art that can’t be created, or created as ‘big’, or can’t get to ‘the show’ without those grants.

Q: What about Performance Art?

A: Damn it, we love you all, we really do. Let us kiss you, because these grants are probably not the way we will get to show you love. Really, with this money, we’re supposed to be looking to the creation of “stuff.” The conception of the program, at this time, is oriented toward “pieces” of art rather than “performances” of art, placing the focus on materials. Unfortunately, for those that come and ‘do’ something, that is a harder, up-hill battle.

As we stated above, everyone’s got expenses, so we aren’t paying for the usual costs for performers, including most tools of the trade. If you have something else in mind that’s new and doesn’t land in those no-no categories, send us an application. Write a really excellent proposal that explains what materials need to be purchased for your performance art (art being a widely defined concept), how they are not part of the ‘usual’ activities, and show that there is a realistic budget and timeline. Blow our minds.

Q: My project doesn’t seem to fit into your guidelines. Should I still apply?

A: Yes!  “Art” is a pretty broad term. We’ve already talked about what we want to fund, and can’t fund…but hey, we’re open to being convinced. Tell us a compelling, original story. Describe your vision. Give us a legitimate, well thought out budget and application. Convince us. Come on, we wanna do it…talk us into it.

Q: So if I apply for a grant, I’ll probably get one?

A: Not necessarily. See everything above. We do say “no” if an application is poorly written, doesn’t describe what the art project is, has a craaaaazy budget, is clearly not feasible, or is just not in keeping with the goals of the grant process.  If this happens, we’ll tell you why we said ‘no’ so you can evolve your project for re-consideration.

Q: I’ve never filled one of these applications out before.  What do I do!?

A: Read through the entire FAQ. Get a friend to help you. Ask us…we might be able to provide some guidance. Take a swing at it – you might find that you like writing after all. We can offer our advice on why a particular grant wasn’t approved after the grant cycle is concluded – to help you better prepare for the next grant cycle, if you want it. It’s not like we’ll chase you down and take money AWAY from you just for applying.

Q: Will you be placing my art at events?

A: No, you’ll need to contact the event placement coordinator. Sure, we’ll work with the event planners to let ‘em know what we’re funding so that they have an idea of what to expect – but we aren’t the placement folks.