This is yet another installment to my new work blog (the GPL Book Arts Project...I will continue to share the posts here, as well as there because...well, because I'm writing the posts, and you guys may be interested in the process about which I am writing, too):
I’ve written many grants in the past. I’ve been lucky that the majority of them have been funded. But I had never written a grant to the Alabama State Council on the Arts. I just never felt like I was up to that caliber of a grant. Not to downplay any of the grants that I have written in the past. All of them meant a great deal to me, whether they were for large amounts or small. But, as most of you out there know, some grants are more complicated than others. Some grants consist of a one-page, online application and require no reporting, whatsoever. Some grants are several pages long and require a final report to prove that you were a good steward of the money that you received. Then some grants, like State Council on the Arts grants (in ANY state), strike fear in the hearts of a potential grant writer. State council grants are so competitive, so thorough, so you-better-not-even-think-about-recycling-a-raggedy-old-grant-to-these-people-kind-of-grants…you have to be on your game to even think about writing one of these grants. They require a great deal of thought, planning and research. No mistaking, I was going to have to think long and hard before I even started writing this rascal.
So, to begin with, I did like I always do when I start writing a grant, I researched the grantor. I went to the Alabama State Council on the Arts website to see if our organization’s mission was compatible with theirs. It was. Check.
Next, I looked up their grant guidelines. It turned out that they had a grant Guidelines booklet that was available to download. I downloaded it, and printed it out so that I could make notes as I read. Check. Check.
At this point, I went ahead and set up a grant account for my library so I could access and print out portions of the grant to use as my guide during the writing process. Check. Check. Check.
Although I had not completely finished reading the grant guidelines, I went ahead and decided on a very basic name for the series, GPL Book Arts Project, and sketched out a preliminary outline of the who, what, why, when, and where. I needed this information in front of me when I began writing emails and making phone inquiries to potential lecturers and interested parties.
The first people I reached out to were Jeanie Thompson (to make sure that I was headed in the right direction), Ian Robertson (to get advice on tabletop presses and to beg him to come to Gadsden as a lecturer/demonstrator) and Glenn House, Sr. (to also get advice on tabletop presses and to beg he and his wife Kathleen Fetters to come to Gadsden as lecturers/deomonstrators). Jeanie kindly assured me that the project sounded fundable, and encouraged me to keep moving forward. Ian Robertson graciously offered up some valuable letterpress resources in some of his personal copies of the letterpress monthly, The Printer (he was “doubtful” about travel, though). And Glenn House, Sr., in some of the most hilariously inspirational email exchanges I’ve ever received, took the bull by the horns and not only gave me some splendid advice on multiple levels (resources for lecturers, papermaking kits, tutorials, miscellany), but also (within seven days of my first query) secured a tabletop press for the library, payment due when the grant came through (evidently he had far more confidence in me than I did in myself). As far as lecturers were concerned, he and Kathleen were committed to too many other projects for them to be available, but he suggested that I contact Dr. Steve Miller at the University of Alabama to see about the availability of book arts grad students who could act as lecturers. I then asked award-winning author Irene Latham (who has given some entertaining and educational readings in the past here at the library) if she would be interested in participating as our writer in residence. She was.
It seemed that everyone was, in one way or another, on board for the project, SHOULD it get funded. The only other contact that I needed to make (as per the ASCA Guidebook) was to the Alabama State Council on the Arts itself…