Money for Nothing . . . well, almost nothing, Durango Herald Feb. 20, 2007

State arts council offers more grants

Dan Appenzeller from Folkwest, Inc. talks with Colorado Council on the Arts education consultant Sheila Spears after a free workshop on applying for grants from the Council. Folkwest organizes the Four Corners Folk Festival and Indiefest, both held in Pagosa Springs. The organization has been supported by CCA grants for several years.

February 20, 2007
By Leanne Goebel | Special to the Herald

The grant budget for the Colorado Council on the Arts doubled this year. And the agency anticipates that grant applications will jump dramatically.

To help artists and arts organizations interested in applying for state funds, the Council sent consultants Maryo Ewell, Sheila Sears and Ronna Lee Sharp to Durango earlier this month to provide tips on how maneuver the grant process successfully.

Close to 20 people from Cortez, Ouray, Pagosa Springs, Dolores and Durango showed up for the free session.

The session was practical and went step-by-step through the online application. Most of the information is readily available on the grant Web site and through the tech tips section.

Following instructions is key to applying for a grant. Answering each question posed is also important.

Grants are reviewed by panels and ranked based upon the standards of excellence available under the grant application tools section of the website.

Best tips of the day were:

• Write as if no one has ever heard of the organization, because it is likely that they haven’t.

• Use the red save button frequently while filling in the online application.

• Draft the narrative in a word processing application and then cut and paste the text into the online application.

• View the document as a PDF file to see how it will print out.

• Don’t overwhelm the panel with too much support material, but highlight specific information.

A grant application should be passionate, literal, easy to understand and easy to read. It should show the reader what the organization intends to do with the money, share data and stories and provide a clear idea of how the organization will evaluate the difference their program makes. Evaluation techniques can be as simple as an usher counting the number of empty seats at curtain and then after intermission to see how many people leave a performance early.

Tips on support material included:

• Have several people sign a single support letter rather than submitting multiple letters.

• Send live video of theatre work rather than still photos.

• Be sure the quality of the films or DVDs and the quality of the performance being recorded are compatible.

• Place the highest impact images in the first few minutes of a video.

The panel review process is open to the public and can be valuable in gaining insight on how the process works.

CCA Grants to artists and organizations are available to fund the following programs:

• Learning in the arts for children and youth.

• Increasing cultural participation in communities.

• Preserving and promoting cultural heritage.

• Professional development services for artists and organizations.

Ewell, Sears and Sharp are all available online to help and answer questions during the application process. The deadline is March 15 and all applications require use of the online form.

Visit: or call (303)892-3802. Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the arts.

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