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Local artists eligible for professional development grants, grant panels


Instruments of Change.

Artist Edgar Sanchez Cumbas packs up an installed painting for a client.

If you’re an artist looking for ways to fund your next big idea, now is your chance to apply for the Arts Council of Hillsborough County Professional Development for Artists (PDA) Grants, providing up to $2,000 toward a specific project. Open to visual, performing, or literary artists living in Hillsborough County (last year’s grantees ranged from dancers to storytellers to musicians), the ACHC will be accepting applications until Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.

As a project-based grant, the focus is placed upon funding attendance to a professional development experience (like conferences, artist residencies, or workshops), or the purchase/rental of equipment that will help push an artist’s career forward.

This grant program differs from the Individual Arts Grant Program they have been running in the past, but you can check out the specifics at Tampa Arts.

Looking at the list of awardees through the years, you can see how the program has grown and including more and more artists from the eight grantees in 2013 to 14 in 2017. As always, it’s best to review the guidelines and eligibility before getting started.

Tips from a previous ACHC grant recipient

Michael Parker seems to be gifted with the grant-writing touch: he received an ACHC grant plus the Carolyn Heller Visual Arts Award -- a bonus of $1,000 given to the highest scoring visual artist -- in 2017, but he also won both of these grants back in 2013. For Parker’s most recent proposal, he wanted to use grant funs to by specialty automotive interference pigments to take his work in a new direction.

“The grant was the perfect opportunity for me to pull the trigger on this project, or else I’d sit around and say that it’s out of my range. This made it a whole lot easier to say it’s time to get these materials and actually start using it. I’m so cheap; I reuse and recycle everything. I take old paintings and give them a new life, so it’s hard for me to drop three grand on a few bags of pigment, but I wanted to up my game a little bit,” Parker says.

Since Parker has been on both sides of the grant process as a panelist and applicator, he was willing to give up a few tips on how to put your best foot forward.

“The ones that did not appeal to me were too wordy. Don’t try to use words that a regular person won’t understand. Also, make sure that your own voice is in there and you’re honest about what you’re doing. You don’t realize when you’re writing it, but you have to take everything in you and turn it into two paragraphs. Keep it short, concise, and honest. I feel people reading them will appreciate that,” Parker explains.

Interested in being a panelist?

Even if you aren’t an artist or eligible for the grant, you can help out the ACHC by becoming a panelist -- all while knowing your important decisions will help shape the local art scene. Panelists are needed not only for the PDA Grants, but for other programs throughout the year as well.

An outstanding candidate for a panelist will have knowledge and experience in the arts, culture, and nonprofit management as well as connections to the Tampa Bay community.

You can find more information and the fact sheet on their website.

Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA (graduating Summer 2018) from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website.
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