Being an artist means juggling many different things – but taking time to develop new ideas can often be shunted to the bottom of the to-do list. Enter: the Developing Your Creative Practice (DYCP) fund.
DYCP funding supports creatives in taking their work to the next level. Unlike the ACE Project Grants, this fund supports exploring ideas rather than presenting an event – which makes it a great opportunity to experiment without the pressure of having a polished product at the end of your research period!
From building new networks, experimenting with new collaborators or exploring new approaches to professional development activities (including international travel to explore other practices or work with mentors), and time for research, development or reflection, there are many ways how this grant might help you to take the next steps towards enhancing your creative practice!
Two more things before you get started…
Check if you are eligible:
The small print: DYCP supports creatives working with various art forms, including theatre, music, dance, visual arts, literature and combined arts.
You also need to:
- Be based in England
- Apply as an individual (18+) or a small group of practitioners who usually collaborate in their work (organisations cannot apply)
- Have at least one years’ creative practice experience outside a formal education context
- Have a bank account in the exact name you’re applying in
You can find the full eligibility guidelines in ACE’s guidance here.
Register for Grantium:
Grantium is the Arts Council portal for applying for grants. Before making an application, you need to create a user account and an applicant profile. Once you’ve entered your details, you need to submit your profile for activation. This can take up to 5 days, so make sure that you leave sufficient time! You can find further information on how to use Grantium here.
Our 10 Top Tips
- Clearly identify the development opportunity you want to undertake
Be as clear and precise as you can when you talk about WHAT you want to do. Identify a specific development opportunity you want to undertake during the funding period, and explain WHY this will benefit your creative practice. Describe HOW you will work, and WHEN your activity will take place (we will talk a bit more about this below!).
2. Set a feasible goal
What do you want to achieve? It is important to set a feasible goal and clearly identify this goal in your application. While it is good to be ambitious (your activity can last up to one year), you also should be realistic, and think about what can be achieved within the timeframe you give yourself and the budget you have available.
3. Planning: identify key stages and milestones
Project planning is a vital step, and you need to demonstrate that you have thought about the key stages of your activity. You should set several milestones within the funding period, and list activities, achievements and outcomes for each stage. For example, if your project can be divided into three phases and stretches over six months in total, you could identify these phases in your timeline, and describe actions and results for each of them.
4. Artistic merit
Talk about yourself, your art, and what makes you special! Don’t be shy – you have a lot to contribute to your community locally, nationally and internationally. Although a DYCP grant doesn’t require immediate engagement with the wider public, you should think about how your project will benefit the public at a later stage. Will your development period let you create future work which will engage communities? Or will you explore new techniques and practices that will benefit the industry, or help make arts more accessible? Tell us about your vision for the future, and how your work contributes to the bigger picture!
5. Provide evidence
It is important to support your statements with evidence. You have already made contact with ‘several regional venues’ who are interested in the work you’re doing? Great – name them! You will collaborate with some ‘high-calibre artists’ and you have arranged a mentorship? We want names! Avoid saying things like ‘I will find a venue that provides space for a few days of R&D and will work with an established partner’ – ideally you want to have started conversations with your partners already, so that you can name the venue/partner who you will work with, and the dates for this commitment. You can also include review quotes or testimonials from industry professionals that tell a bit more about your previous work.
6. Avoid generalisations and long, rambling narratives
We said it before and we’ll say it again: be clear and precise when you talk about your ideas. Focus on providing the facts and avoid ‘rambling on’. There is a strict character count for each question, and you need to be brief in your answers. Using bullet points rather than full sentences will help you to get to the point (excuse the pun), and to get the information across within the space you have available.
7. Be engaging
Don’t be afraid to show your excitement, passion and enthusiasm. It may not seem like it while completing a standardised form on Grantium, but your application will be assessed by a human. Imagine that you get to spend 3 minutes in an elevator with the person that is going to read your application. What would you want them to know about your ideas?
8. Provide a balanced budget
You will need to provide a balanced budget for your activity. It is important to research any expenditure item accurately, and to be realistic. The budget should show that you will have sufficient funds to support the activity you are proposing, and you need to make sure that it covers everything you have mentioned in your application, including fees for yourself and other people involved. If you expect to generate any income with your activity or receive support-in-kind (this can be, for example, free use of rehearsal/development space), you should enter these sums in the income table. But don’t worry, your application will be eligible even without any additional income – the DYCP grant can make up to 100% of your income.
9. Fair pay
Use Equity and ITC guidelines when researching quotes for artists involved in your project – including yourself! Arts Council England wants to support artists, and your budget should clearly break down how artists are being paid for their time in line with industry guidelines.
10. Don’t feel intimidated
Be yourself, and share your exciting ideas! We need arts and new developments in our industry more than ever, and your input is valued! Arts Council England is here to support you. If you need any further help or advise, contact Arts Council England, or get in touch with us – our team is happy to help!
About the author
Pamela Schermann is an arts manager, creative producer and stage director. Originally from Vienna/Austria, she is currently based in London and has completed an MA in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths University of London. She has managed and produced several projects in the UK and abroad, and works as a consultant for organisations and artists. Pamela is passionate about the transformative power of the arts and their positive impact on the lives of individuals and communities as a whole.