No JFund this time

Well this was not how I wanted to start my week.

Because I’m impatient, and because I happened to see on Google+ last week that the JFund applications were being reviewed, I checked out the American Composers Forum website this afternoon to see if the grant winners had been announced. They had. Last Wednesday. Which is a pretty sure sign that I got nothing. And that’s exactly what I got.

I’m honestly incredibly depressed by the news. I hadn’t felt so optimistic and confident about an application I’d sent out, well…ever. So this was a significant blow to the ego, especially given the subject matter of the piece and my personal stake in it.

But life will go on. It goes on with temporarily undermined confidence and a brief bout of depression, but it goes on. I’ve still got the MAP Fund Letter of Inquiry out there.

More grant writing

I spent some time yesterday reworking the JFund materials for MAP. The changes will be more substantial than I first anticipated, but not overwhelming by any means. MAP provides a 7-point list of suggestions for writing the Letter of Inquiry, which I’m hewing to very closely, adapting my existing texts to the order and layout of the list. I’m feeling even more confident about this project description than I did about the JFund, which I think was still quite good.

Tonight I’ll spend some time at the library trying to finish the writing so that I can have a few people look at it tomorrow and over the weekend.

One of the challenges is to hit all of the points while maintaining a consistent flow. I find myself jumping around from section to section, adding a bit here, editing a bit there, moving things around to accommodate both the 7-point structure and the arc of the writing.

JFund app update

The application arrived in Minnesota yesterday. Before I left for the office, I finally checked the FedEx tracking number, and saw that it was out for delivery. Another anal-retentive check this morning confirmed that it had, indeed, been delivered and signed for.

I’ll spend the next week or so drafting up a letter for the MAP Fund’s inquiry submissions, which opens up September 1. And then maybe this weekend I can start actually writing the piece!

The waiting begins

I spent the weekend being blissfully relaxed – lounging by the pool at my boyfriend’s parents’ house in Montauk, hanging out on the beach (and accidentally falling asleep – thank goodness I didn’t get sunburned!), eating and drinking rather too much – and generally not thinking about the commission or grant applications. Now that the week has started again and I’m back sitting at the day job, staying out from underfoot for the last two days of the yearly audit, I’m desperate to know whether the JFund application has made it to Minnesota yet. But silly me – I left the FedEx receipt at home, and consequently don’t have the tracking number available!

One down…

The application is in the mail!

After work yesterday, I printed out a pretty copy of Letter from a Young Poet and made nice color labels for the CDs, and everything was ready to go!

The only hiccup happened when I went to check the CDs to make sure that they played properly. I tried them out on my laptop, where I burned them on my lunch break (which took FOREVER – it’s an older lappy, and will need replacing in the next year or so), and it sounded as though it were being played over the radio with lots of static. Scary. I panicked for a moment, but was thankful that I’d remembered to bring extra blank CDs from home. Then I remembered the boombox in the office, and decided to try them there. Perfect. And I asked one of the girls in Education to test them out on her computer, and they played beautifully. Must just be my lappy, whose optical drive is most likely slowly failing, as is not unusual in computers of a certain age.

Now we wait and keep our fingers crossed.

And, y’know, put together more applications. All while starting up the new concert series, preparing to perform for the American Opera Projects next month, working on several website designs, and trying to sit down face to face with some composers I should know better.

Final application tweaks

The day job approved the time off for the VCCA residency, so I’ll be there from Nov 4 to Nov 13. Very excited to be going back!

Tuesday evening, sent my personal statement off to Chet for a look-over. I value his opinion highly in all things, but I value his opinion above all others in the realm of applications since he’s been on so many panels throughout the years. He only offered a few minor criticisms, and otherwise said that it was “very much you – very personal, very detailed, and very smart”.

I sent the whole package to Darien to look over, as well. He had some good suggestions about nitpicky things: consistency of language in the personal statement (I did a whole thing about “focus and range” in the direction/development of my work sections); having the words “really” and “real” in the same sentence; slightly awkward parsing of a sentence where I’d set off a parenthetical with commas rather than dashes, as I typically do. The biggest change was to flesh out the project description a bit more to include the language I’d used in the cover letter about how I see the project as “the orchestral equivalent of an It Gets Better video”.

I feel much more confident about this application than I have about any other I’ve sent out for grants or competitions. I think that my passion for the piece really comes across, as well as my intense personal connection to the subject matter. My previous application to them (was there more than one? possibly. probably.) I approached more from the angle of, “Oh, hey, there’s some grant money here – let’s see, what can I do to try to get some grant money? Oh yeah, that’ll work. I’ll try that.” And it came across in my materials. This is a piece I’ve been wanting to write for almost a year now, but haven’t had the outlet for it. So now I’m approaching the JFund from the angle of “Here’s a project I’m really into, and here are people who are excited to do it – oh, hey, there’s some potential money that can help make it happen!”

After this app is off, I’ll send a letter to the Secret Music Foundation to request their help in funding the piece, as well. Then I’ll research the MAP Fund, which seems ideally suited to this project, and which Dr. Block is very interested in applying to, as well. The MAP Fund apparently has the ability to fund the entire project, which would be great, especially as a fall-back position should the JFund not work out.

As of right now (mid-afternoon), I have two things left to finish before I can send off my application: print a saddle-stitched copy of my shorter work sample, and print off CD labels for my audio samples. All of the written materials are done and looked over and revised, ISU’s materials are ready to go, and I bought large envelopes at lunch today to send the app in. I’ll finish the last two parts right after work, before I run down to Brooklyn to hear DDT’s Haddocks’ Eyes.

I’m champing at the bit to get this thing done and out of my hands!

JFund progress

Work at the library last night went quite well. I think I’ve got the personal statement in its near-finished form. I realized that I’d left my notes at home, so I referred back to these posts since I had mentioned my bullet points here. It clocks in at just under a page, which is perfect. I’m debating over keeping headings for the different sections. One one hand, it’s more easily scanable; on the other, it doesn’t have a full flow down the page.

My budget and budget description for the Enhancement Funds are basically done, as well. The question here is whether or not to acknowledge that there will be expenses beyond the $1,500 Enhancement Funds. It’s not completely germane to the application process, but I do want the panelists to know that I’m cognizant of the larger array of costs.

The residency has been okayed on VCCA’s end after I emailed them last night proposing the week following the event, dependent upon the day job’s approval of the time off. I’ll be asking the day job today about the time off.

Residency thoughts

Zero work got done on the JFund application this weekend. Consequently, I’ve blocked off several evenings this week to tackle it formally. Tonight through Thursday, I’ve set aside 6-8 (maybe longer, depending) every evening to type up my personal statement and project description. Work ‘til 6, type til 8, hit the gym after (must lose this silly vanity weight!). Food in there somewhere.

I’m hoping to be done by Wednesday evening so that I can go to the American Opera Projects’ concert Thursday evening – they’re presenting David’s Haddocks’ Eyes (note the proper placement of the apostrophe – there are multiple haddock here), which I’ve never heard live.

I received Dr. Block’s JFund materials over the weekend, so that part is done and ready to go.

Of course, to make life more stressful this week (positively so, fortunately), I’ve got to make a decision soon between two options for early November. Either I A) stay in NY for the second performance of “Growl” and get interviewed onstage alongside Ned Rorem, or B) go to the VCCA to perform for their 40th anniversary celebration, which would dovetail with a short residency (probably a week). Here I said I wasn’t going to hunt down a VCCA residency for the Fall, and then they go and invite me to this fundraiser and offer a concurrent residency to sweeten the deal! It sort of throws off my plans for a Spring residency in WY. Or, at least, it gives me fewer paid vacation days for the year, should I do both. I’ll still have sick days and some personal days, which I can use at will. And I can always just say “don’t pay me for these days” should I go over my allotment (in an ideal world, that is – of course, I still have something of an “I’m a temp still” mentality).

I’m quite happy to be saddled with such a predicament, though I hate to have to choose! How lovely would it be to set up a Skype session or Google+ Hangout to be electronically present at the concert while I’m in Virginia! And have the NY performance be part of my portion of the VA evening! It’s always an option….

The VA residency, of course, suddenly becomes an option – despite my earlier having dismissed the idea – because it’s in November, and I’ll surely have the piece started by then, so I won’t be approaching a blank page. Plus, it should be easier to schedule a week off then than two weeks off in early October. I’ll broach the subject this week at the office, even though I’m slightly reluctant to do so since it’s audit week, when it’s possible that tensions might be running a little high.

Letter of Commitment

This morning I got a draft of the Letter of Commitment from Dr. Block for the JFund application. Aside from having to correct the spelling of my last name, I just tweaked the project description, which was lifted from my original proposal a few weeks ago. It was just a matter of substituting newer, more elegant language.

The letter also gave me some pretty cool information.

Aside from answering my question about the woodwinds (they are in threes), I now know that a harp is available. And I may just avail myself of that harp, especially now that I have an affinity to it because of Starfish at Pescadero and at least a moment.

I also now know the official premiere date: April 27, 2013. A semester alter than expected, but it allows for more rehearsal time, and especially more time for the Drs. Block & Vought to learn the piece. I approve.

The most sort of surprising – but in the best possible way – part was the last paragraph, which listed my responsibilities for the week of the premiere: I’ll be in residence at the school all week, attending rehearsals, teaching master classes in composition, and giving a pre-concert talk/lecture on the piece and everything behind it. Awesome! As if I weren’t excited enough already!

I’ve spent a goodly chunk of the day, since it’s been a slow day at the office, working on my JFund application materials. I’ve got a nice chunk of the personal statement ready: the “How I’m an ‘Emerging’ Composer” segment, and the “How this commission is a significant step forward for me” segment. I’ll finish the remainder on Sunday after Darien and I have dinner with Chet and talk more about his thoughts on the Development/Direction sections. We’re also having dinner with our friends Marc & Seth tomorrow (Marc is a pianist who has premiered and performed a lot of my works), so there will be more discussion then, as well.

Putting the “Fun” in Fundraising!

Since Dr. Block got back from his trip yesterday, I requested the presented materials from him again. Hoping to have it by the end of the week so that I can send out the completed JFund app by Monday. It doesn’t need a postmark until next Friday, but for once in my life I’d like to get an application in before the last possible second.

I also spent a significant chunk of yesterday afternoon working on the commissioning contract, making edits from the copy I marked up at the bar last week. It looks as though it will be about 5 pages, but I’m considering cutting a few lines that deal with payment since ISU isn’t the one paying me for the piece. The main items that remain are the commissioner credit in the score/programs/marketing materials/etc and the specific date(s) and number of the performance(s). I’m hoping for three performances, but I’m not holding my breath – I’m not the only thing that they’ll be playing next year.

I also spent some time looking at potential funding sources in addition to the JFund. The MAP Fund is a possibility, and there are a few funders that popped up on a search of LGBTQ foundations/philanthropists. I’m kicking around the idea of a Kickstarter thing for this, but I’m still unsure of whether or not to save that for the recording sessions I want to do starting in December. Basically what I have to decide is this:

1) Do I want to potentially do two separate funding drives for two separate projects within two or three months of one another?
2) Do I want to do ONE funding drive for just one of the two projects?
a) Which Project should that be?
i) The commission will potentially be partially funded from JFund and/or the Secret Music Foundation and/or any other granting organizations we decide to apply to.
ii) I *could*, if I were so inclined – and this idea does sort of appeal – fund the recording with the commissioning money.
iii) However: It might be nice/smart to put that money (whatever it ends up amounting to) in a savings account or toward some investments. I *do* have my financial future to consider.

I’m leaning much more toward doing a Kickstarter project for just the recording so that I can bank the commissioning fee. Keeping the funds separate seems smarter, especially in the long term.

On the other hand, were I to try to fund part of the commissioning fee with Kickstarter, there’s a real possibility, I think, for greater exposure and a wider funding base since there’s a larger social issue involved.

I’m also going to pick the brain of my friend who’s the Director of Development for the ISU College of Fine Arts to see what he thinks/suggests.

I’ve also decided not to try for the VCCA this Fall. If I’m going to go to Brush Creek in the Spring, that’s two of my four weeks of vacation days eaten up right there. I may be better served keeping some of my days in reserve. I can always take a day here and a day there in the meantime to do work.