How to Write a Project Description

MAC's team of program consultants. Left to right: Martine Friesen, Tracey Longbottom, Deirdre Tomkins, Cathleen Enns and Cheryl Miki.
MAC’s team of program consultants. Left to right: Martine Friesen, Tracey Longbottom, Deirdre Tomkins, Cathleen Enns and Cheryl Miki.


For many MAC grant applications, you’ll be asked to fill out a section called the “project description.” This is where you have the opportunity to describe your proposed project in detail and why you want to do it.

For some applicants, this can be one of the most intimidating sections of a grant application. To help you navigate this section, we’ve asked our team of MAC program consultants for handy tips on writing your best project description.

1. Start strong

Within the first sentence of your projection description, try to answer the most important question: what are you going to do with this grant?

“Are you going to paint? Are you going to write poetry? Are you screening a film? Are you hosting an event? This should be clear right from the start,” says Martine Friesen, MAC program consultant.

2. Answer the 5 W’s (and H)

Make sure the project description answers the six big questions:

What are you going to do with this grant?

Who will you be working with?

When will this project take place?

Where will this project take place?

Why do you want to do this project? Why is it important to you, or your community?

How are you going to do it?

The “why,” says Cheryl Miki, MAC program consultant, can be the most difficult to answer – but also one of the most vital!

“One of the hardest questions an artist can ask themselves is: so what? Or, who cares?” says Cheryl. “If you can’t say why your project is important, it can be hard for the assessors to deem it important.”

Cathleen Enns agrees: “The ‘why’ is super important. When I do consultations with artists, I ask them to think about their art form, what’s happening in the world, why they’re interested in it, why others might be enriched by it… the assessors want to know about that.”

3. Be clear and concise

Try to communicate your ideas in simple terms that everyone can understand. Even if your project is very complicated or difficult to describe, break it down and help the assessors understand what you’d like to do.

In particular, avoid art speak:

“Art speak is the jargon that’s been developed for specific art forms that not everyone can understand,” says Cathleen.

4. Write in first person

Some artists hire grant writers to draft applications for them. Even if this is the case, it’s important for the grant to be written in first-person perspective from the applicant themselves.

❌ John Doe will write a screenplay.

✔️ I will write a screenplay.

Most applications are written in first-person, so applications that are written in third person can stand out and seem less authentic.

If you’re writing a grant application on behalf of an arts group or an organization, you can use the personal pronouns “we,” “us,” and “ourselves.”

5. Consider your audience

When MAC is assembling an assessment panel, we try to include a variety of artists, arts/cultural professionals, and Knowledge Keepers from different communities, artistic disciplines, and perspectives.

This means your application will be assessed by a well-rounded and diverse panel. However, this also means that not every assessor will be intimately familiar with your artistic process.

“Many of our grant panels are multi-disciplinary, which means the assessors have a variety of backgrounds,” says Tracey Longbottom. “Make sure than anyone can understand your application – from a Northern elder to an artist in a totally different discipline than you are.”

6. Look at the assessment questions

The assessment questions are a list of questions that the assessors answer to evaluate whether or not to fund an application. You can find them at the end of any grant’s program guidelines.

The most common assessment areas are:

  • Feasibility: how possible it is to complete the project
  • Impact: how the project will affect you or your community
  • Artistic merit: the project’s artistic value

7. Get feedback

Once you’ve written your application, consider asking a friend or community member to look it over (preferably someone who has received a grant before). Make sure they can clearly understand what you’re proposing.

“Because they don’t have the same intense interest in the success of your application, someone else may be able to see the pitfalls of where you’re missing information,” says De Tomkins.

As well, you can always book a consultation with a MAC program consultant to look over your application and give you feedback before you submit it! Visit our Contact Us page for more information.

We hope this blog has given you some useful tips on writing a project description for your next MAC grant application!

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If you have any questions, contact the MAC Helpdesk.