Arts Council England Funding for d/Deaf & disabled artists

In the most recent CRIPtic workshop, the focus was on Arts Council funding – how to get it, what to do with it. I’ve applied for ACE funding before – both times desperately last minute, wrangling with Grantium at 11pm on deadline day, vowing never to make the same mistake again.

I’ve even attended workshops about ACE funding before, but what’s special about the CRIPtic workshops is the sense of being the target audience for once – access information isn’t half-heartedly added on at the end, it’s front and centre, and being translated into BSL as we go. It’s one of the things that makes projects like CRIPtic so special, and so successful – the feeling that you don’t need to leave the parts of your identity that don’t fit outside.

The workshop leaders talked us through how to apply for Project Grants and Developing Your Creative Practice grants, how to apply for access support on top of that, and – perhaps most importantly – what that access support might look like. One of the hardest things, when going it alone, is knowing what you are allowed to do, to ask for. Maybe if I’d known I was allowed to hire someone to help me fill in the form, or to translate the questions into plain language for me, I’d have got the funding I applied for – and maybe not, but I might at least have felt prepared to send off the application.

Knowing that support exists is a good first step, but it’s not always enough – I often don’t know what I need, because no-one has ever tried to meet my needs before. Having concrete examples of things I can ask for, as well as knowing that ACE welcomes questions from disabled artists wanting to apply for their funds, might just make all the difference in the next funding round.

The other thing I took away from the workshop was the thread that separates Project Grant applications from DYCP applications – the question of who benefits?

It’s a simple way to divide the funds – Project Grants are for projects that will primarily benefit the public, whereas DYCP is aimed at helping practitioners to, you guessed it, develop their creative practice. But it’s a question that I think artists could do with asking ourselves more – is this something I want to write for myself, or because I want it to reach people? If I want it to reach people, why and how? What impact do I want it to have?

It’s easy to be laid back about it, to think well obviously I want it to change the lives of everyone who reads it and to make me enough money that I can quit my day job, but there’s more to it than that. If we don’t define what “success” looks like for a project, we’ll never be satisfied, because we’ll never be able to call it successful. Knowing what the end goal is, even if that necessarily shifts over time, is a first step I’ll no longer be ignoring when coming up with new projects.

by Nicky Watkinson

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