Photo credit: Calvin Lee Joseph
To help you prepare the best possible application for a MAC arts grant, we’ve enlisted the help of a few assessors who’ve served on a MAC peer assessment panel over the past year to share some wisdom from inside the panel room.
Our fourth and final expert is Mungala Londe. Mungala was born in Lusaka, Zambia and raised in Winnipeg, MB. He is a member of hip-hop collective The Lytics. The group has released three albums to date; The Lytics, They Told Me, and Hold On. Currently, they are working on various projects and Mungala is preparing his solo EP release Gully. He is the Youth Programs Manager at Spence Neighbourhood Association.
As an assessor, what do you look for in a successful grant application?
Based on my experience as an assessor, choosing between a lot of worthy applications came down to community impact. To me, a successful application should include thoughtful collaboration and community building.
A descriptive, concise and clear layout helps assessors see your vision. Applications that detailed every aspect of the project answered questions before I had them. During the assessment session, it was also helpful to be able to easily navigate through an application to find and reference points during conversation.
What’s the biggest red flag on a grant application?
It is helpful to provide ample detail in the project. This shows you have considered and organized every goal and outcome of your project. When the budget doesn’t match up to the narrative in the proposal, it can be confusing and misleading. If it shows up in the proposal, it should show up in your budget line: those two stories should match.
For MAC grants, applicants are asked to speak about the cultural integrity of their project. As an assessor, what is the importance of cultural integrity in a project proposal, and what do you look for in an answer?
Manitoba contains many diverse communities. Sharing and growing your awareness of our communities strengthens our culture. And culture is how we learn more about ourselves: through others, through the sharing of identity and ideas in art. Travelling is a great way to experience culture. Travel requires departure, while the arts is something you can always come back to. You can listen to a song on repeat, and reread your favorite book. Artistry is a map of your reference points along the way. So to me, thoughtful representation of cultural learning is something I look for in a proposal.
“Sharing and growing your awareness of our communities strengthens our culture. And culture is how we learn more about ourselves: through others, through the sharing of identity and ideas in art.”
How can I make my application stand out?
Visually speaking, it helps to have the document organized in a manner that can be easily skimmed with headings, subheadings, etc. For example, using bullet points or numbered lists to outline goals and outcomes rather than in paragraphs. While the application should be detailed, the reader should be able to visualize the basic structure of the project based on this organization of the document. Assessors may be from various professional backgrounds, so it is best to use language that clearly communicates the message, and to explain any technical terms, as needed, when referring to your project. Furthermore, using descriptive language as vividly as you would when telling a story really helps assessors connect with your vision.
How did your experience as an assessor change the way that you approach grant writing?
Being on the other side of a grant application gave me an appreciation for how difficult it can be to make some decisions. There were various people from different arts professions and knowledge backgrounds. It is really beneficial to have a clear budget and timeline outlined because it felt like it helped everyone better understand during discussions. I was very impressed and excited by the projects I got to assess. Manitoba has a whole spectrum of artists working on really innovative ideas. I came away from the experience much more focused on creating a detailed budget and timeline for my own projects. The more thoroughly detailed the project, the easier it is to explain and execute, creating more room for exploration in the process.
For more information, videos, and resources to help write a MAC grant application, visit our How to Apply page.
To read the full Application Tips with Assessors blog series, click here.