Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Both sides of the fence

This week, I'm finding myself in two opposite sides: I'm evaluating projects as a music juror and I'm writing a proposal for myself for a grant application.  This is not uncommon for musicians, but it makes you think.

When you apply for grants, I find it easier for those who read it, that the proposal is concrete and specific as possible.  As a juror, it is not easy to go through paragraphs of work description written in philosophical or metaphoric manner, or too vague, covering too wide a range of possibilities, or overly elaborate in manner.  In fact, when you see that kind of a proposal, the juror's task seems to become more like deciphering what is really being proposed there.

To save both sides the trouble, the best way is to read the application guidelines as carefully as possible, and try to find out first, if the grant or the venue is truly the match for your project and proposal.   Of course there are other reasons for people to apply: money, prestige or both.  But without the concrete purpose and the matching of the grantee and grantor, the chance of success isn't very good.  At least that is what I am seeing.

Now, I'm also on the other side, having to apply for a grant.  Sometimes, a particular grant is indeed, asking for something grander, vast in scale and long term.  So far my compositional projects have been quite limited to my own (violin), and I have had just a few big-scale proposals that went through, namely a work for Youth Symphony which received New York State Council on the Arts grant, and a Violin Concerto, my first orchestral work I wrote for myself using Subharmonics, which received Jerome Foundation grant.   These are projects that are bigger than one violin, but nevertheless, limited in scale, in terms of timing and scope.   For the first time I am having to think in longer term with different aspects, and it is a little overwhelming.

Some grantors maybe actively seeking for something grander in scale, rather than a composition of "usual fair".  I might have to go elaborate, philosophical, and metaphoric this time.

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