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.

Back on track

Fundraising for Only Air stalled briefly, but is back in full-swing as of this afternoon. After the briefest of misunderstandings with The Field late yesterday afternoon, I’m set up on the MAP Fund’s site, and will be submitting my Letter of Inquiry materials for review at The Field in the next day or so. I’m glad I spent so much time preparing the JFund materials – for this round with MAP, I’m able to duplicate much of my work from the previous grant, which is a HUGE time-saver. I’ll still be spending some time reworking it over the next day or two.

Of course, all of this money talk seems a bit crass in the light of yet another suicide. Jamey Rodemeyer of Williamsville, NY committed suicide Sunday because he was bullied relentlessly at school for his sexuality. He was 14.

It’s because all of this is still happening that I’m writing Only Air.

Into the breach!

As of this afternoon, I’ll be in good standing once again with The Field, so I’ll be able to reapply as soon as my 12-month funding report is processed. I’m slightly nervous about The Field’s $250 fee, but only out of fear of not getting anything from the MAP Fund. But,then again: nothing ventured, nothing gained. My application is ready to go once I get the word.

Finally: the Only Air announcement

I got some great feedback from ISU Devo yesterday – they’ve got some grants that they can point me to, which is awesome. They’re researching them further, and will send me the info soon. Plus, they think the project is “highly fundable”, which makes me quite happy, and bolsters my optimism about the grant applications!

I got news this morning from the MAP Fund that the organization needs to have their 501(c)3 status at the time of the application, and must have had it for at least two years prior. So, I won’t be applying with ISU for that particular grant. Which means that I have to get back in good standing with The Field – I’m sure we never filled out our funds usage report at the end of last year. When the Tobenski-Algera Concert Series folded, Jeff canceled our domain name, which means that I lost the only email contact I had with The Field, as well as ALL of my T-A related correspondence, which is annoying. I’ve contacted them to find out what paperwork I still owe them.

In other news, I’ve started reading David Cutler’s The Savvy Musician, which is clearly going to exacerbate my entrepreneurial tendencies, and really light a fire under my ass when it comes to marketing this piece. I’m going to be trying to get some media attention soon, now that I’ve officially announced the commission in my August newsletter (which you can sign up to receive here). I originally didn’t plan to announce the commission until I had the contract in-hand, but the Letter of Commitment, and the School’s enthusiasm about the project, make me confident enough to announce it finally. Next comes the official blog post on my website. AND I can stop typing this blog into Google Docs, and actually publish it and backdate all of the previous entries.

In which Dennis calls upon arcane knowledge

Today the MAP Fund opened their website to letters of inquiry for their annual grant application process. I’ve done a bit of research into the grant already, and it’s a perfect fit. One of the requirements of the process is that artists have to apply with a non-profit organization. That organization can either be working with the artist on bringing the project to fruition or merely a fiscal sponsor (like The Field or Fractured Atlas). So before I set ISU to attack the initial Letter of Inquiry round of the application process, I checked one last thing: does ISU, in fact, have 501(c)3 status?

The answer is: at this moment, no.

They’ve applied for non-profit status so that they can apply for these sorts of grant opportunities, but they haven’t yet received the final approval from the government.

And this is where my status as a font of arcane knowledge kicked in. I suddenly remembered: when an organization applies for 501(c)3 status, once their application is approved, the status is retroactive to the date of application. Which means that provided that their application is approved (and I don’t really see how it would be rejected, but let’s not tempt fate here, people), they will be considered as having non-profit status from the time that they originally mailed in their application.

Of course, I’m a huge dork for knowing this off the top of my head. I know that. I revel in it. I take great pride in knowing these sorts of law/copyright/business/practical things, and go out of my way to learn more.

I’ve emailed the MAP Fund directly to ask a) may I apply as an independent artist under the sponsorship of The Field, and b) will ISU qualify as a collaborating organization since they have applied for 501(c)3 status, and upon approval (assuming that it will take past the MAP Fund’s October cut-off date for ISU to receive the approval), that status will be retroactive. I haven’t yet heard back on the latter point (I’m assuming that questions are being asked, and it’s entirely possible that lawyers are being called), but I definitely can apply on my own with The Field’s sponsorship. However, I suspect that the project would be much more likely to be funded if I were applying directly with ISU, so I’m going to press the point.

Fortunately, the ISU Development people have offered to help me find additional funding sources, which is great.

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!

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!

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.