Following the final exam (Purchase December 15, QCC December 16), we will have a seminar-style discussion about grant writing. A loosely-structured seminar discussion is the typical format of upper-level undergraduate courses as well as all graduate work (masters and doctoral level). The point of a seminar discussion is precisely that: to discuss. In the process of discussing, you are forced to clarify what you think by articulating your ideas in a clear and persuasive manner, and at the same time you learn from the wide array of perspectives and experiences that your peers bring into the conversation. The discussion may organically move to unexpected topics, but the main takeaway from a learning experience like this one is that all of your knowledge and resources are related; there is no such thing as a separation of academic subjects when you really approach a topic critically. Your familiarity with the assigned material, your own initiative in doing additional research, and your engagement with each other is what will make for an effective and enjoyable class.

Your task:

  1. Read the post below, read as much of the linked web pages as possible (read multiple times, take notes, reflect on it — in other words, do what we do in class on your own).
  2. Refer to notes you’ve taken in class over the course of the semester, past PowerPoint slides, and previous Online Class Discussions to make sure you’re correctly understanding as many concepts as possible. Read additional sources as necessary to ensure that you know what you’re talking about with this topic.
  3. Prepare thoughts, questions, and ideas that you have about the notion of writing grants to support music making. These can approach the topic from any and all angles — make use of the various brainstorming methods we’ve undertaken in class.
  4. Be ready to have a rich, engaging, and involved discussion with each other as an entire class about grant writing. Ask each other questions. Offer comments. Respond to each other. I will not participate in this discussion.


Purchase: This required assignment counts for 10% of your final grade in Music 1060, and it consists of both a class discussion and a brief writing assignment. Your discussion participation will be graded on a 5-point scale, and your writing will be graded on a 5-point scale. If you are late or leave early, the maximum number of points you can earn will be proportional to the amount of the discussion you miss; if you miss half of the discussion, you can only earn up to 2.5 points; if you miss a third of the discussion, you can only earn up to 3.3 points; etc. If you do not participate, do not contribute to the assigned topic, or are absent, you will earn 0 points. The writing prompt will be about grant writing and will be provided in class.

QCC: This extra credit assignment is worth up to 7 points on your final average. If you are late or leave early, the maximum number of points you can earn will be proportional to the amount of the discussion you miss; if you miss half of the discussion, you can only earn up to 3.5 points; if you miss a third of the discussion, you can only earn up to 4.9 points; etc. If you do not participate, do not contribute to the assigned topic, or are absent, you will earn 0 points; this extra credit assignment will not negatively affect your grade.

All students: The better your contributions to the class discussion, the more points you will earn. You will be graded on the amount and quality of your contributions to the class discussion; ideally the answers to all of the following questions will be “Yes”:

  • Are you prepared for the discussion? Have you read the assigned web pages? Have you done additional reading (as necessary) that allows you to have a reasonable baseline of knowledge about the topic?
  • Are you contributing to the class discussion in a meaningful way? Are you offering new insight that no one else has adding? Are your contributions compelling and interesting rather than vague, superficial, or cliche? Are you building upon what other people have said rather than ignoring them?
  • Are you demonstrating knowledge of the course material, technical vocabulary, and drawing from past discussions we’ve held in class?

I look forward to being a fly on the wall for your discussion!

-Dr. J.



Before reading further, have you read Online Class Discussion #8? If you did not participate in that online discussion or read the post, you do not have the requisite background knowledge for this final project.

Make sure that your comments during the class discussion on December 15/16 do not reveal that you are unfamiliar with the content of Online Class Discussion #8 — you will earn fewer or no points by bringing ignorance to the in-class discussion.


Why do people write grants?

Creating art costs money. A common way for individual artists, artist collectives, ensembles, and non-profit organizations to fund their work is through grant writing.

Some costs involved in creating music:

  • Commissioning fees — paying someone to create a new work (often a months- or years-long process)
  • Performance fees — paying each performer for both their time on stage during a performance as well as rehearsal time before a performance
  • Tech crew — for operas, ballets, and other theatrical performances
  • Venue rental
  • Travel
  • Printing: sheet music, programs
  • Marketing: advertising in magazines, online ads, posters, mailing postcards
  • Post-concert reception: wine, cheese, desserts, napkins, plates, cups
  • Costumes, theatrical makeup, or formal clothing, depending on the venue
  • Supplies: instrument rental or purchase, props or stage materials
  • Licensing fees if the music incorporates another artist’s work (e.g., text, choreography, images, audio samples, etc.)
  • Documentation: audio recordings, photography, and videography
  • Additional costs for larger organizations: staff salaries for Executive Directors, finance departments, grant writers or development staff, building expenses (utility bills, rent or mortgage payments, insurance, maintenance)

Here is a blog post from earlier this semester about the cost of photography.

The W.A.G.E. calculator is a resource that describes how an artist’s work should be monetarily valued (i.e., what it’s worth) if we assume that artists should be paid a living wage for their work.


What kinds of questions or information are included in grant applications?

Grants are provided by the government (local, city, state, and federal levels all provide financial support for art) and private foundations (usually set up to reflect the interests of a wealthy person, and this person may or may not be directly involved in deciding which grants are funded, instead relying on a board of trustees to read and vote on grant proposals that are submitted).

Every granting organization has different requirements for the kinds of information they require to evaluate proposed projects. The grant application from the Puffin Foundation is a pretty typical example for small grants ($1,000-2,500): 2015-puffin-app

Here is another typical grant proposal format used in New York and New Jersey by larger organizations that provide larger grant awards (usually up to $75,000).


What does a completed grant application look like?

Here is an example of a grant proposal sent by the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music to the Amy Winehouse Foundation (founded by her parents after her death); the foundation funds programs that support drug and alcohol rehabilitation, troubled youth, and music making: 2016-09-13a-awf-proposal-2016-17-draft

Although Kickstarter isn’t a formal grant organization, the kinds of descriptions that people use to persuade people to donate to their projects on the site are similar to grants. Here is an example of a Kickstarter project currently seeking funding for the creation of new pieces of music written in response to gun violence.


What kinds of projects get funded by grants?

NewMusicUSA is an organization that awards grants ranging up to $15,000 for the creation, recording, performance, and promotion of new music (music that has been composed within the last two years or so). Musicians submit grants and detailed budgets to the organization, and other musicians evaluate the quality of the applicants’ work, including their descriptions of their proposed project, recordings of their playing, and the accuracy of their budget estimates. Here are some examples of projects funded by NewMusicUSA.