Two New Grant Programs from Chamber Music America

It’s not every day that a grant funder announces a new program for musicians, so I’m excited to help spread the news. Chamber Music America actually has TWO new grant programs for musicians — maybe you? One is for jazz and the other for classical musicians. Applications for both programs are now open. They are . . .

“Performance Plus”

. . . provides grants to U.S. based female-led jazz ensembles to engage an experienced jazz artist-educator for six evaluative listening sessions with the goal of enhancing the ensemble’s performance. The listening sessions will culminate in a recording session resulting in a high-quality demo for use by the grantee ensemble. Application Deadline: 8/23/2019. Details HERE. And the other program is:

“Ensemble Forward”

. . . is an initiative for young ensembles that perform Western European classical and contemporary chamber music and are based in the five boroughs of New York City, to support them at a crucial time in their career development and help them navigate an increasingly competitive cultural landscape. Application Deadline: 9/27/2019. Details HERE.

How to find other grant programs for musicians?

These CMA programs are pretty specialized. So if you’re not eligible for these, here are some other terrific resources to find more opportunities:

NYFA Source terrific database.
Creative Capital sign up for their newsletter and get notifications of upcoming deadlines.
Chamber Music America offers additional grants, including funding for commissioning.
The Foundation Center offers searchable database of Grants to Individuals that’s available by subscription, or to use for free at one of their Funding Information Network locations.
For composers interested in Artist Retreats, check out the Alliance of Artist Communities.

Look for a match between the grant program and your project

The goal of your search is to find foundations and programs whose missions are genuinely aligned with your project. Once you have a list of prospects, go to the foundations’ sites and read their program restrictions carefully. Read about the projects and organizations they’ve funded in the past, and how much was given.

Based on your research, only apply to those that are truly a match. Don’t waste your time or the grant committees’ time. And don’t try to stretch your own project to match what the funder wants—it never ends well!

Warning: mindset traps to avoid

Musicians sometimes think that grant writing is some mysterious or intimidating skill beyond their reach. It’s not, so don’t let this thought prevent you from going forward. Grant writing demands carefully following the program guidelines and employing clear thinking, organizational skills, and attention to detail.

On the other hand, some novice grant seekers make the mistake of thinking, “Oh, this application is simply paper work: I’ll just whip this sucker off.” They imagine that “It’s the recording and letters of recommendation that really count.”

Wrong! Don’t underestimate the importance of having a well-written and compelling proposal. For funders, it’s essential.

Grant program applications 101

A winning grant proposal presents a detailed and well-reasoned case that underscores the match between the proposed project and the funder’s mission.

So to be convincing, your proposal should answer the following:

  • How does the project match the interests of the funding organization? Emphasize the ways in which your project goals line up with the funder’s stated priorities.
  • What specifically do you plan to accomplish through this project?
  • Describe the expected outcomes: for you, for others, for the community.
  • Include key credits, the evidence you have that you’ll be able to succeed with this project.
  • What specifically do you need in order to complete the project? (Detail the needed funding and resources in a budget, include a projected timeline.)
  • How will you demonstrate the project was successful?

Beyond these basics, make sure in your proposal that you avoid technical jargon. Describe your project in a way that an intelligent non-specialist will understand and find convincing. Be persuasive but concise.

Supporting Material is Crucial

Grant program applications often call for supporting materials (letters of reference, recordings, and scores). Supporting materials matter, so take pains that what you send represents you well and that it’s all formatted and labeled correctly.

And since each grant program has its own application format, make sure you read the details and follow the instructions very carefully.

Grant writing isn’t rocket science, but it can be tremendously helpful to get feedback on your draft proposals from experienced grant writers or coaches.

I hope seeing these new grant program for musicians has inspired you to do some research and move forward with your project ideas.

More help with grants HERE.

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