Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions page. Here we have collected the most common questions that may arise when thinking or writing an application for arts funding. To answer those questions, we asked the community of peers and friends working in the cultural sector to share their knowledge and experience with you. 

Be mindful that all answers are subjective. Keep in mind that every artistic practice is a unique individual process and that everyone speaks from their own perspective. 

To read subjective answers about the most common funds follow this link

I'm not good at writing. What can I do?

(From the perspective of an artist/researcher)

This is very common, believe me! In my own experience (I have a love/hate relationship with writing), there are a few ways to deal with this.

One method I have been using myself for a long time, is to “write” using voice memos on my phone. Somehow, it is much easier for me to think out loud than to put thoughts down on paper immediately. It’s a less (self-)critical approach and allows for more natural, open and free-associative thinking. If it helps, you can imagine that you’re talking to a friend or colleague about your practice, and just record yourself as long as you can: perhaps recording several voice notes i a day or over a week, whenever you feel inspired or when you think you have an idea. Afterwards, simply transcribe your voice recordings into a Word document, initially without editing or changing anything. That way you will have a preliminary base text that you can cut, edit, change and add to as needed. For me, this takes a lot of pressure off, and gives me a healthy distance from the text or statement I’m writing. 

Another method of dealing with this is of course to ask friends and colleagues for advice and feedback. Personally, I have never done that because I was always too insecure about what I was writing! But I know from others that it can be a very helpful way to get unstuck. 

Whatever you do, my advice is to be completely honest in your writing. Don’t try to be someone you are not, and don’t hide behind art speak. Don’t overthink and don’t overcomplicate things. Be as clear as you can be, even if it seems banal sometimes. And importantly: try to enjoy the process! No matter what the outcome is, writing an application is a great opportunity for you to reflect on your practice and the things that inspire and move you, as well as to think (and dream) about the ways you would like your work to develop.


(From the perspective of a Ghost Writer, Writer, Art Critic and Podcast maker) 

If you cannot write, try to convince yourself that you can write, but only for the timespan of an hour. And in that hour write down, without stopping, what is it that you are doing/pursuing/developing/trying out/going to do in your artistic work. When the timer goes off, you stop or you continue but you do not read back what you have written. Let it sit for a while and read it back the next day or the next week. After reading, edit the text or let someone you trust with writing edit it for you. If you still feel that this writing is bullshit and does not reflect at all what it is that you are doing as an artist, try the interview-method. Very often people who are not able to express themselves as clearly as they’d like to in writing, can articulate their ideas in speech. Ask someone you trust and who either knows a lot or very little about your artistic practice (both perspectives can be useful) to interview you about your work in your studio or the place where you work. Let them ask you annoying questions such as: what do you mean or why is this important? Make sure to record this conversation. Transcribe the conversation and see if you make more sense when you speak about your practice than when you write about it. Somehow this is often the case. Then try to approach writing as conversation.

What is important to include into any funding application?

(From the perspective of a Writer, Art Critic and Podcast maker)

Your own voice. Make sure to use the kind of language that comes close to your artistic practice and that you would use to describe your practice to someone when talking about your work. Be clear and precise. A grant application becomes interesting to read when you are very specific. Don’t try to explain or justify your practice by using grand words or concepts if they don’t really adhere. Usually what is relevant about, interesting or characteristic of someone’s artistic practice is much smaller: it is an approach, a very precise interest, it is a way of thinking or dealing with materials. Try to formulate that. Make it tiny, not big. At the same time, beware of falling into the trap of describing a subtheme in your work as the core or focusing only on the material or conceptual side of your work and forgetting about the rest. Describe the development of your artistic practice. What was your work like in the past? What is it like now and what would you like it to develop into? How have you gone about that and how are you planning to go about that? Don’t forget to mention all that you’ve achieved in your artistic work and all that you aim to achieve. And make sure to explain how this grant is going to help you to get there.

I find it difficult to write a fund application. Where can I ask for help, support, or feedback?

(From the perspective of an Artist/Researcher)

First of all, always make sure you carefully read the information and guidelines about the specific grant you’re applying for. I usually copy and paste that information (about every single part of the application) and paste it above my working text document, so that I don’t get lost in the process.

Secondly, you can always ask friends or colleagues and fellow students for their advice or to share their experiences. It can also be useful to have a (non-art related) friend or even family member read your (draft) text at some point, to make sure the text is clear.

Finally, always keep in mind that the people working at funding organisations are human beings, and their job is to support artists. They are your allies and (future) colleagues. You can always contact funding organisations if you have any questions, and many organisations even have specific information or Q&A sessions for prospective applicants – take advantage of these opportunities to prepare yourself. This will hopefully help demystify the application process and make it doable!


(From the perspective of an Artist, Educator, Researcher, Community Organizer)

First, have a look at the form and all the questions and make yourself a draft document with your first thoughts about each question so you understand what they want from you. And remember, 90% of writing is editing. So make a rough draft and go through many versions and rounds of feedback until you have a text that you feel can be your ambassador. Also search for the applications of people who already got funding. Some funds publish these, otherwise you can contact the artists themselves and ask if you can get a copy. You can learn a lot by examples of successful applications! Secondly, building a network of peers, fellow graduates etc is really key when it comes to organising feedback. Keep your friends close, and keep your native English speaking classmate from 5 years ago closer :) When in doubt, ask friends and professionals from the field to read your texts and flag if anything is unclear. Very often we have blind spots of what is obvious to us, but other people don't get. Third option is to ask someone you don't know, such as a professional copywriter or grant writer to do this, they will probably charge you money. Sometimes they are open to an exchange instead (time, odd jobs, design, translation etc). Fourthly, some funds offer you the opportunity to submit an application early and get feedback from the institution itself. If this is the case, take it! Even if your application isn't perfect, go ahead and submit your best version. You'll also learn from rejection letter that tell you what was missing. It's pretty normal to have to apply a couple of times before you get funding. Salwa Foundation offers courses on funding applications, as does This works, and Pedro Mattias with Ka-ching - all about money. Highly recommended!

I’m a non-Western artist. Do I need to write my funding application in a specific Western art language?

(From the perspective of an Artist/Researcher)

This is a tricky but important question. It would certainly be a lie to say that there is no such thing as an “art language”, and another lie to claim that this art language is “universal”. We all know (or should know) that the northwestern hemisphere still dominates most of what is considered ‘valuable’ in the world, including the art world. I am reminded of that pink banner by the late Croatian artist Mladen Stilinovic, which reads: “An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is No Artist”; a statement that is sadly all too relevant 30 years on.

Nevertheless, much work is being done behind the scenes of funding organisations, to ensure cultural and artistic diversity above all. This includes taking into account an applicant’s personal and artistic journey and ensuring that a “successful application” does not rely on so-called “smooth” writing skills or the use of specific arts jargon – in fact, it is much better if the writing does not rely on jargon and uses more clear and understandable vocabulary.

Sometimes it helps to be a non-native speaker, because then you cannot hide behind complicated language and your text ends up being much more accessible!

No matter your (linguistic) background or nature of your practice, just focus on communicating the most important aspect as clearly as possible. If you think it’s important to take into account your specific experience or cultural context, then make sure to communicate this as well. In the end, the most important thing – in my view – is to be honest and write clearly.


(From the perspective of an Artist, Educator, Researcher, Community Organizer)

No! You don't have to copy the style of language in artspeak in Western Europe. Try to find an exciting match between the content of your work and your style of writing (contrasting or similar to your work). So for example, if your work is about really heavy emotional topics, sometimes having a more light or humorous tone of voice can work well. Or if you have very minimalist work, it can be helpful to use a fictional story to create an imaginary landscape in which the work comes alive. You are most welcome to bring your own expertise, legacy, language, cultural traditions and references. What is good to bear in mind is that people who work in funding committees are terrible mind readers, and they might not be so knowledgeable cross-culturally. You can assume an intelligent yet uninformed reader. The challenge for you in writing about your work is to spark the imagination and curiosity of the readers, while remaining accessible in language. So instead of explaining your work, or only talking about what your intentions are, try to make a context in which your work is meaningful. So for example, if you have a work that is connected to Andean Cosmology in Peru, Jordanian street murals, or a swamp in rural China the challenge for you will be to give readers enough knowledge so they get your work.

My application has been rejected. Should I apply again?

(From the perspective of a post-conceptual Artist/Writer/Art worker)

A few questions to ask yourself.   

What are you applying for?

Is it one of those open calls with 1000+ applicants asking you a fee to apply? It’s fine if you go through this experience once if you really have to. Knowledge about these sorts of scams takes time to sink in. But if you have stepped into this repeatedly, ask yourself whether it wouldn’t be wiser to just start a petition against these sorts of set-ups. We could all do better to sink such “opportunities”.   

Is it a grant that has 200 applicants per year, with open consultation hours that not only give you a better grip on what you are applying for, but also how the people handling it can help you have a successful application? Then, by all means, submit a request for clarification to understand why you were rejected, go to the consultation hours, get guidance, ask your peers to review your application, wait and try again. 

Is it a residency that you think fits your practice and that you’ve been dreaming of applying for since forever? As above, ask for guidance, ask your peers to review your application, wait and try again.   

Is it a place that states it doesn't give feedback on applications? Ask why not. But maybe you shouldn't invest your time again.   

Is it a place you can go to in person, check out through other means, and get to know the people behind it before trying to apply again? Then, please take these steps in person if you can.   

Whatever you do, remember that behind every application procedure there are people. And while not all might mean well, those places that are worth getting into usually offer special care for those submitting applications. Refuse to allow yourself to be treated with anything other than care.   

And, if you feel that you're getting too many rejections on open calls, consider taking a break and focussing on your work instead. The art world tends to be filled with too much free labour. Refuse to invest your time in processes where you are nothing more than a number.   

Bonus points if, once you get a successful application, you decide to share your process and guide others to success as well.

What is important to include in a budget?

(From the perspective of a cross-disciplinary Thinker & Designer)

A key point to remember for budgeting are collaborations.

In most projects, you will find yourself yearning for support in specific areas, or there might simply be elements for which you personally don’t have the skills, tools or space.

Early in a project, try to map ou what these elements could be, who would be people or organisations with whom you would dream to collaborate, and inform yourself what would be a reasonable fee for them. This can sometimes be difficult to think about if a funding application is more on the conceptual side or research-based, but from experience I would advise making collaborations concrete as early as possible and not being too shy to ask for the necessary budget to pay your collaborators fairly.


(From the perspective of an Artist)

A budget should give a clear and direct reading of the financial planning of your project. Anyone looking at your budget for the first time, needs to understand what the money will be used for. Having an overview and a quick understanding of the budget is as important as having a concise list of the required items/materials/elements.

In a budget, you must include any costs that are necessary for and inextricably linked to the plan to be carried out. Within a budget, the basics such as material costs, production costs, artists fees and any expense related to the making of the work are easy to think of. It is a bit more complicated to predict costs that we might have and we can’t yet foresee. Make sure that, even in the budget, to leave room for experimentation, which means not being too detailed, so as not to give the feeling that there is no room to deviate from the plan.

Within an application, most of the time you have to prepare a budget when applying and another for your report when the project’s period is over. Don’t panic if things went differently, just explain why they. The last budget (report) must be the closest to reality as possible. In most applications (to not say all) it is expected for your budget to not include profit, which means that you must have a budget that shows that all money requested is used in what you proposed. Besides your artistic fees, by the end of the project you must have spent it all.

Pay your collaborators fairly; pay yourself fairly; the subsidy received isn’t your personal money, but the project’s money; Keep your budget simple and sexy (if sheets can be sexy).

Can I tweak the budget for a fund in a way that actually works for my project?

(From the perspective of an Artist)

Your application’s budget is there to demonstrate the project’s financial viability, but also to support your application

When I started applying for funding, one of the pieces of advice I was given was to bluff a little in my applications. I share this same advice now with you. Bluff (and NEVER lie) in a budget too. Sometimes it is impossible to predict everything you will need from the get go: so add a bit more on material costs if your practice always includes extra tryouts; round up the amounts a bit, so those special screws for the build-up that you overlooked in the budget are still covered; make sure you have money for all you mention on the textual part, etc.

It is also important to prepare a budget that follows your practice: if your work is research based, you should have budget for research; if you are an immaterial artist, don’t have a very high material costs if not justified; if your practice is collaborative, it is okay to use most of the resources to pay others. Adapt the application and budget to your practice and to what you are describing. Your budget should help rather than confuse the committee. Have it checked by a friend or peer before you upload it to see if it makes sense and can be clearly understood.

Still about bluffing, an application, in a very pragmatic way, is almost like dreaming about the ideal situation for your project. So is a budget. Show to the committee what is fundamental (specially fees and material costs) while protecting your project from complicated (financial) situations.

Make sure you read what can and cannot be in that budget’s application. Normally buying equipment is a big no-no, so if you can’t get out of it, find a way to justify it. For that, you must compare the prices of renting and buying.

If you want to ‘hide’ something, I suggest you first ask yourself: Why do I need to hide this? Is there a way of being transparent but also opaque about this specific item?

Call the fund and ask for more details about the ‘ja’ and ‘nee’ for the budget.

Lastly, in most fundings and therefore budgets, you will have to make your own investment (normally up to 25% of the total costs) so I advice you to count on this section, hours that you are okay not receiving as salary (i.e. editing or writing), costs you will have anyway but also costs that otherwise couldn’t be added, such as an item that you must buy rather than rent (think about why that is and be ready to need to explain it).

How do I prepare my CV?

(From the perspective of a post-conceptual Artist/Writer/Art worker)

Curriculum Vitae (CV) is Latin for "course of life.” This means that your CV will most likely contain a sketched-out picture, in activities, of the paths your life has taken you on. From education to jobs, skills, and hobbies, though oddly enough less personal than professional and quite formalized. Although the CV is a bit of an outdated model, it is still in use today, so it is good to understand how it functions and, perhaps more importantly, how it can be subverted.   

So when you’re drafting a CV, it depends on whether you want to be strategic and focus on the application, job, residency, or grant you’re applying to. In that case, you have to have a CV that contains items that directly resonate with the position you’re applying for. People want to know that you’ve done what they are looking for. But we are not born with experience so you have to start somewhere. Therefore, start small. But, if you want to become a restaurant worker, you have to mention previous experience in the hospitality industry. If you want to become an art worker, you have to list previous experiences in the arts.   

However, you can also use another strategy, which relates to being open and honest about your work practice in general. And you can focus on skills. Remember that skills are transferable. You might learn to multi-task and interact with people with a smile while working in the hospitality industry. So let’s say your first job was as a restaurant worker. These are the same skills that will help you as a curator, or even as an artist. So don’t be afraid to include these experiences in your CV, but also put them in context.   

No work trajectory is clear-cut. No life path is straightforward, but if you look intelligently at your work and life, you’ll realize that everything made you the person you are.


(From the perspective of an cross-disciplinary Thinker & Designer)

One version of a CV may not always work for different organisations you may want to apply to for funding. Before putting together your application, always check carefully what exactly an organisation or open call is looking for. If you know that, you can highlight certain parts of your experience/projects, or even omit certain parts if they are not relevant for that specific purpose.

My practice sits between different disciplines, and in general I prefer to present my work as a hybrid practice. Anyway, that might not always be the smartest way to present my work, depending on how an organisation/fund looks at the work and the CV.

In the Netherlands, the two largest funding organisations are divided between the areas of applied arts and fine arts. One might perceive the terminologies and meanings of disciplines more fluidly than the other… In today's times a lot is shifting in the art and design world and borders between disciplines can easily blur. While this may feel perfectly natural to the artist or designer, it is important to analyse whether funding organisations are shifting their thinking and terms at the same speed.

When it comes down to it, I would advise you to gather information about how an organisation assesses CV’s and practices. Try talking to people who have applied for the same funding you are interested in, and learn about their experiences. Find people who have a practice similar to yours and understand how they define their practice. Also how this definition might be flexible for different purposes. This might give you tips and tricks to understand the desired way of framing your practice.

Does it get easier over time?

(From the perspective of an Artist/Researcher)

The short answer is: Most of the time, yes! It takes practice, and the more you get used to writing applications and finding your own flow, the easier it becomes. And once you have worked on an application, you’ll have many documents ready for future applications, such as: an up-to-date portfolio, CV, an artist statement about your practice, and so on. That way you might only need to work on writing the motivation or details of a specific project or plan that you’re applying for. But occasionally, (especially after major developments in your practice and portfolio) you might have to start almost from scratch to reflect those changes.

All in all, you will find that the more often you apply for grants and opportunities, the more you’ll get the hang of it and the less overwhelming it will seem each time.

My advice therefore is: practice, practice, practice! Look for opportunities, even small ones, start practicing as early as you can and do it as often as it makes sense. Whenever possible, ask for feedback from colleagues and friends, and don’t give up after (initial) setbacks. Keep trying and remember that the process of writing an application is very useful in itself: it is a moment of reflection on your own work, a time to organise your documentation, and to think about how you would like to develop in the future.


(From the perspective of a cross-disciplinary Thinker & Designer)

If writing funding applications is simply not your thing, it will always feel like a burden and you will catch yourself procrastinating. What helps me, is to see them as exercises to understand my practice better and also to figure out what I want to do next. Being forced to formulate intuitive directions or ideas into a comprehensible format is almost always activating me. It can prevent over-thinking and help me feel more certain about a project. So even if a funding application will not be granted, you can often benefit from having written it in different ways. Also, applications that have not been granted the first time, might be successful in a second round. Or they may come in handy for partial reuse for future ideas.