The narrative for my grant proposal

I wrote in a previous post that I’m applying for a grant. The city of Seattle has a grant program for Seattle-based individual artists to develop and present their work. It’s called the CityArtist Projects program. I’ve never written a grant proposal like this. It’s been a lot of work, but I’ve learned a lot.

If you written a grant proposal before, you probably know this, but there is a narrative portion and a budget portion (along with a whole bunch of other stuff). So here are my responses to the narrative part of the questions.

Project overview
(1,950 characters)

Describe your project and project plan. What specifically do you plan to do? How will it unfold (start to end)? What are the roles of any other key artists/partners? Relate your project plan to your concept, themes, inspiration. For a re-mounted work, identify which elements will change and how.

Recent gun violence, racially separated neighborhoods, and crime rates are symptoms of a city not yet comfortable with race. Seattle needs safe places for its white citizens to talk about race without fear of saying something “wrong” or being accused of racism. My project will provide that.

My project is public readings and discussions of my play-in-progress “The New Frontier Media Company,” which examines prejudice, race, and opportunity through the lens of the dot-com boom in Seattle. My inspirations for this play are: my experiences in the dot-com boom; and my life as a white woman married to an African-American man, most profoundly being the only white guest at his parents 50th wedding anniversary celebration, torn between identifying with the other guests or with the white servers.

The play is a full-length, two-act drama; a mixed-race cast of eight actors plays 12 characters. Two weeks of work shopping and development will lead up to four public readings. A facilitated discussion after each reading will allow white audience members to talk frankly about issues of race raised by the play. Social media engagement will start dialogue with the community before workshopping starts, and continue after the last reading, to create higher impact on the community.

This is the first time I’ve seriously interwoven issues of race into my plays. White people will hear certain things only from other white people; I’m a white person who can say those things. The story is also told out of chronological order; another first for me.

Seattle will be a more peaceful, more integrated, and less violent city if people of all races have more easeful, respectful and enriching conversations and interactions with each other. Helping white people be more comfortable with issues of race, and to understand their own whiteness and privilege, is a small step towards that goal, but a necessary step. My project can help do that.

Project impact
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What is the significance of this project to your work or career as an artist? How will you know that you have accomplished your goals?

This project will help me develop my skills as a white playwright who is passionate about communicating to other white people the lessons I have learned about whiteness and privilege in this country. I want to help white people have happier, richer lives by helping them be more comfortable with, more open to, and more connected with people of color.

I’ll know I’ve accomplished my goals by observing the audience during the readings, seeing if they are still and attentive during the parts of the play where race is discussed; by listening to their comments during the discussion afterwards, to see if they express new understanding of issues of race.

I’ll also do a simple version of the audience-impact survey described in the recent book “Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact in the Value of Art.” From those surveys, and feedback given during the discussions, I will revise the play into a form that’s ready for submission to theaters and festivals.

Audience Access/Promotional Plan
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What is your intended audience for the work? For your public presentation? How do you plan to reach new or diverse audiences, beyond those who already know your work? For example, will you use location, ticket price, partnerships, outreach to special populations by ethnicity, age or socio-economic level?

This project will help me develop my skills as a white playwright who is passionate about communicating to other white people the lessons I have learned about whiteness and privilege in this country. I want to help white people have happier, richer lives by helping them be more comfortable with, more open to, and more connected with people of color.

I’ll know I’ve accomplished my goals by observing the audience during the readings, seeing if they are still and attentive during the parts of the play where race is discussed; by listening to their comments during the discussion afterwards, to see if they express new understanding of issues of race.

I’ll also do a simple version of the audience-impact survey described in the recent book “Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact in the Value of Art.” From those surveys, and feedback given during the discussions, I will revise the play into a form that’s ready for submission to theaters and festivals.

Audience Access/Promotional Plan
(1,000 characters)

What is your intended audience for the work? For your public presentation? How do you plan to reach new or diverse audiences, beyond those who already know your work? For example, will you use location, ticket price, partnerships, outreach to special populations by ethnicity, age or socio-economic level?

The intended audience for this play is white, middle-class Seattleites, particularly (but not limited to) those in the tech industry and/or part of the dot-com boom. Even though this audience is the majority of theater-going audiences in Seattle, it’s underserved in opportunities to talk about race and privilege without fear of saying something “wrong” or being accused of racism.

To reach this audience, largely new to my work, I’ll contact professional societies, use social media, and ask friends in the business to forward announcements to their colleagues.

On the project’s Facebook page, I’ll post video clips of interviews with project team members; everyone involved will post favorite lines from the play, insights into the issues discussed in the play, memorable moments from rehearsals. All of these are known to increase context and anticipation for an arts event, which drive attendance and increase impact.

Need for funds/budget notes
(1,000 characters)

I’m not asking for funds to support working on the play prior to this project; I already have funding for that.

The project needs eight actors, despite being a reading, not a full performance. Using fewer would require having white actors play characters of color (highly inappropriate); or having an actor play two characters in the same scene (i.e., talking to themselves).

Social media engagement is indispensable in starting and continuing the conversation about race and privilege, and in getting audiences to come. To draw an audience, a certain amount of marketing is needed, no matter what the event.

The audience-impact survey is essential; since my goal is to impact people, I must measure impact to know if I have achieved my goals.

Feedback from the survey (as well as informing revisions of the play) will help me determine what theaters would want to produce this play. It will give me content for cover letters, to explain why their audience will love the play.

I would ask for feedback, but…

… by the time you read this, the deadline will probably have passed.  But if you do post feedback, I’ll keep it in mind for next time.

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About playwrightsmuse

Get produced, get published, let your brilliance shine! Follow along as we go through a step-by-step process for getting plays produced with the least amount of heartbreak and wasted postage and printing costs.
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