by Róisín StackResources for Theatremakers MCM 2024 TIP SHEET
by Dwayne Woods
Read the publication or listen to the radio show you’re pitching to.
Know the sections of the publication or show. Know why you want to be in that section. Think about the readers or listeners of that publication. Can you give them something new?
Knowing your story and the audience will help the journalist/producer tell your story.
Consider the turnaround times/deadlines journalists/producers work to.
Allow a three month window before your album releases.
If the journalist or producer puts out a weekly or daily publication, this will impact the turnaround time they need. A weekly features journalist usually works with an editor so they’d need extra time to work on their piece. A week’s notice is not enough notice in this case.
Never contact a daily features journalist in the afternoon. Their deadlines won’t give them space to talk to you.
Try initiating contact with producers or journalists over social media.
If you don’t have an email address, try messaging producers or journalists over social media. Ask them for an email address so that you can send your press release, pitch, and assets in full.
Be short and snappy.
Remember you’re writing to someone who tells stories for a living, don’t be too fluffy in your language. If there’s a shorter way of articulating something, go the shorter route.
Your pitch accompanies your press release.
Be tailored and targeted in your pitch – this is the email body copy. Don’t send the same pitch to every producer or journalist. You should know what the recipient likes and doesn’t like. Your knowledge of their work feeds into this.
Attach your press release to that pitch email and link to media assets.
Don’t send attachments, link to an assets folder.
When mailing producers or journalists, sending lots of large attachments can cause bounceback/clog up inboxes so link to a folder with your assets such as audio files, large photos.
Ensure meta data is added to files and there’s a clear filename structure. E.g. Bandname – song title.wav
Photos should be high resolution
This is especially important when pitching to a print publication. Always credit the photographer, and ensure you have their permission to use the photos.
Add quotes to your press release.
Quotes, especially from prominent figures, illuminate a press release and bring a third party dimension to your story.
Don’t forget the local angle.
Approach local papers or radio stations if you’re doing a gig in their area. This will make your story particularly relevant for their readers/listeners.
This will stand to you in any interviews or in-depth features. Never try to be something you’re not and don’t try to be controversial for the sake of it. Telling your authentic story will make you memorable and set you apart.
Apply for your artists’ exemption.
Income you earn from the sale of your artistic works may be exempt from Income Tax. Fill out the artist exemption claim form on https://www.revenue.ie/en/personal-tax-credits-reliefs-and-exemptions/income-and-employment/artists-exemption/index.aspx
You’ll have to submit some supporting material, i.e., if you’re an author, perhaps a couple of chapters from your book, if you’re a musician, your Spotify link. You’ll also have to attach proof of income. This might be an IMRO statement for royalties or a publishing contract. These can go via post to their HQ in Dublin Castle or through My Account on Revenue online through the Enquiries email service.
Exemptions can’t be dated backwards so if you apply now, it will count for the tax year 2023 onwards. You can’t put in an application for 2022.
If you have an inkling that you could be exempt, do submit it. It’s free and you may as well find out if you are entitled.
If you’re a musician and an actor, apply for these separately; you can only apply for one artform at a time.
01 8589820 is the Revenue phone number re. artists’ exemption if you have any queries.
These things validate an invoice in the eyes of Revenue.
- Invoices numbered sequentially.
- Full description of services provided.
If you’re registered for VAT include your VAT number and add VAT onto the invoice.
Line items in a bank statement will suffice if you don’t have all receipts.
When you’re gathering your expenses, this is helpful to know so don’t panic if you don’t have a receipt; once you can see it was paid for via your bank account, you’re covered. Just link the expense to your activity i.e., toll expense to get to a gig in the Olympia on X date.
List all your equipment and how much it would cost to replace it. You can get 12.5% of that back.
Capital expenditure is your guitar or a Macbook – the more bulky items you’ve spent money on for work. On capital items you can claim 12.5% of the item every year for 8 years.
Use an app to keep track of receipts.
Apps like Expensify enable you to take a photo of a receipt and upload it to a space where you can add a detailed description of the item and what job it’s related to. Keeping paper receipts of course works too. Get a hardback diary, staple receipts into the pages and write out what the payment was for on the pages.
Who can claim expenses for image maintenance?
Musicians who are getting up on stage or actors in the public eye, or if you have to maintain social media to help you portray an image. All this means you need to maintain your image so you can claim for clothes, hair, and make up. If you’re using items for a dual purpose, i.e., if you use the make-up both for social and work occasions, you can claim 50% on those items in that case.
If you can, keep all of this separate like a separate wardrobe for work.
You can claim for research items.
If you’re a director, DJ or writer, you can claim a portion of any expense which could be linked to gaining inspiration e.g. Spotify/Apple Music/ Netflix/ Prime. Anything that could be linked to helping you gain inspiration all falls within research. Claim 50% if the subscription has a dual use, i.e. your own entertainment.
Can you claim services at home? Broadband, electricity…
You can claim a portion of your mobile phone bill, broadband bills and other household bills based on the percentage used for work.
There are lots of tax credits available. Don’t miss out on them.
If you don’t have an accountant, make sure you look through the list on Revenue Online Service (ROS).
For example, there has been a real lack of take up of the rent tax credit. If you pay rent, you can claim €500 back for 2022 and 2023. This will be €750 for 2024. You just need to give the address of your property and the amount of rent being paid.
Medical expenses is another tax credit that everyone can claim. Any medical bills, not covered by private health insurance, can come off your tax bill. You can’t claim routine dental or fillings, but you can claim for braces or root canals. Your dentist can give you a MED 2 form for this.
What is preliminary tax?
In October 2023, we do our returns for 2022. Preliminary tax to be paid this year is the amount towards your 2023 liability – that’s either 100% of 2022 or 90% of what you estimate 2023 to be. We recommend paying 100% of 2022 to be safe. That will sit on the account and will come off your liability when you do your return for next year. It’s a prepayment. You’re liable to pay interest if it’s underpaid.
If you’re paying VAT, hire an accountant.
There were some changes to VAT in Budget 2024. The VAT registration threshold is an income threshold and not profit. There’s a massive VAT rate database on Revenue which is brilliant and comprehensive. VAT is a very tricky piece of legislation, there’s a whole book on it so do get professional advice if paying VAT.
Contact revenue to help you.
Revenue phone lines only open between 9.30am and 1.30pm so they are very hard to get so we recommend doing everything through My Enquiries on Revenue under your My Account there. The team are very helpful here. Do speak to them if you’re unsure about something.
For details on Budget 2024: https://stratafinancial.ie/strata-financial-budget-2024-summary/
with Sue Cullen
- Change your circumstances by changing your perception.
The human mind is so powerful it can drive you into a dark hole and it can be your biggest cheerleader. It can self-sabotage; bring about fear, but also allow you to feel success, delight, and joy. Your mind can cause you to feel stuck in your past and it can make you worry.
The placebo effect is real and works. You trick yourself all the time. You instruct your subconscious mind to find evidence to support your beliefs all the time. Now, start tricking your mind to work in your favour.
Your habits will pull you back but even by telling yourself, “Actually, I can do this”, you’re creating an opportunity. If you want to change your circumstances, change your perception.
- Understand the difference between your conscious & subconscious mind.
Your conscious mind enables you to evaluate and make decisions.
Your subconscious mind trusts and accepts what your conscious mind decides. It’s in your subconscious where you store your habits and your beliefs.
As you get older, you rely on your subconscious mind to operate. For example, when you were a child learning to ride a bike, this was done using your conscious mind. Now, when you ride a bike, your subconscious mind does the work.
Our conscious and subconscious minds working together is what makes humans powerful and advanced as a species.
- Your mind doesn’t wander, your awareness does.
Imagine your awareness is a glowing ball of light, floating around, like an orb. It floats in the vast space that is your mind. Anger, love, as well as all of the different memories that trigger these emotions for you live within this space. Imagine that ball of light travelling around your mind lighting up different areas.
When you go to the cinema, you’re paying someone else to take hold of your awareness. The director takes you to different parts of your mind, directing you how to feel.
What you become aware of every day can trigger memories and emotions and consequently a physical reaction.
- Grow your awareness.
Have you ever been looking for something, maybe a set of keys, before realising they’re in your hand? This is an example of how your brain can keep you from seeing the whole truth. Opportunities are available to you every day but you’re not seeing them all; they’re being blocked out. You’ve convinced yourself you’ve lost your keys, that’s now your truth.
The Reticular Activating System is the part of your brain that filters out information to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed. So much information passes through your sensory organs. For example, feel your socks on your toes. Now you can feel them, but you didn’t think about it until it was mentioned.
Be conscious of what information you’re giving to your RAS. It works to support your habits and will filter out information to honour and indulge those habits. It matches the labels you’ve given yourself and the beliefs you hold. If you notice and become aware of this, you can make changes more easily and effectively.
By growing your awareness, you can learn to work with your mind; make it work in your favour so that you never feel trapped. By becoming more aware, you will start to behave differently and make different choices.
Our image of the world and life is distorted by how our brain filters out information. This is all shaped by our experience with the people around us, society, education, and the art and media we consume.
Look for further information; further opportunities. There is more to what meets the eye. Often we’ll say, “I’ve tried everything, nothing works”, but we haven’t tried everything. There’s always another way of approaching a problem or responding to a dilemma.
Discover the hidden aspects of your life. There are opportunities there. Are there people in your life who have been there all the time but you’ve never had a conversation with them?
Become aware of what you’re blocking out. When life presents you with opportunities, you want to show up and experience them in the way they should be experienced.
Heightening your awareness will enable you to seize opportunities. Become conscious of your perception. How you perceive life will affect your outcomes. Even by considering this concept, you’ve already started to make progress.
- Keep your chin up, literally.
Practice keeping your chin up so that you’re visually accessing more. This also helps you breathe easier which has a further positive effect on your brain and awareness.
- Once your self-image is formed, it’s difficult to let go of.
Your multiple thoughts and self-talk build up your self-image and reinforce it. This informs your performance and your reality.
For example, you may have already decided that you’re a shy person. As a result, your body will give you physical reactions to stop you from speaking in public, like a foggy mind, or sweating. Another example is that you may have told yourself you’re a clumsy dancer. Now, your mind will make you worried about falling if you get up on that dance floor. This has become your truth. You’ve attached your emotional history to this truth. You’ve told yourself you’re shy, so now you’re acting shy. Try stepping out of that comfort zone and step into an area of discomfort like you did when you first learned to ride a bike. Acknowledge any physical symptoms that are deterring you from moving forward. For example, if public speaking is uncomfortable for you, go for it and pay attention to your shaky hands or your dry throat. Be aware of what you’re thinking. It’s important to understand the physical symptoms and to feel the big emotions when you’re outside your comfort zone. This enables you to grow and learn from your experiences.
We all act in accordance with our truth as we believe it to be. Beliefs are the filters that turn you on and off. If you think you can’t do something, this is often the result of a deep-rooted belief that your brain is programmed to go along with.
- Do your beliefs support you to be the best version of yourself?
If you believe in luck, it’s actually that belief and awareness that brings about good fortune. For example, if you’ve seen two magpies and believe that you’ll experience something positive that day, you probably will. Equally, if you’ve crossed a black cat and believe you’re now going to have an awful day, you probably will. If you believe you’ll never achieve something, you won’t achieve it.
Beliefs can enable you to be the best version of yourself you can be. They can also control you and discourage you from releasing your full potential. By changing your beliefs, you change your world. To do this, you need to look at things differently.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want to believe about yourself?
- What truth do you want to hold?
- What beliefs will work for you?
- What’s the consequence of holding onto your beliefs?
- What if you let go of those beliefs?
- Disrupt the beliefs that are holding you back.
Think about the areas of your life in which your beliefs hold you back.
- What beliefs do you hold about your work? Do you believe you’re not assertive? Maybe that’s why you didn’t go for that job that you wanted or you didn’t submit that proposal or apply for that funding.
- What beliefs do you hold about yourself in relationships? Do you believe you can’t maintain a relationship? Do you believe you’re happy single? Do you believe you’re happy in a toxic relationship?
- What about your physical health? Do you believe your body wasn’t made for exercise? Do you believe eating healthy is too much work?
- What beliefs are you holding for yourself? Do you believe you’re moody or emotional? Maybe you believe that you don’t like to show your emotions; you don’t have any emotions, things just don’t bother you. Do you believe you’re not smart?
What do you gain from clinging to your beliefs? What do you think will happen if you change them? You can create a more empowering alternative.
Think of a limiting belief that you are now prepared to let go of, e.g. “I’m a shy person”. Interrogate this belief. Ask yourself:
- What’s the root of this belief?
- Where did that belief come from?
- How long have you had it?
- What evidence supports this belief?
- What’s keeping you believing this belief? Fear? Ignorance?
- What does this belief feel like?
- What does it mean to you?
- How does it keep you stuck?
- What have you done to try to overcome this belief in the past?
Consider what you would like to replace your limiting belief with, i.e. a new belief such as, “I’m a confident person”.
Now ask yourself:
- What do you need, to act on this new belief?
- How realistic are you with this belief?
- What are you prepared to do?
- Who are you going to be with this new belief?
- How often are you going to exercise this new belief?
Pay attention to the emotions that you feel as you ask yourself these questions. To disrupt your deep-rooted beliefs, you need to emotionally connect with the, “Why?”
Why do you want to disrupt this belief? If the reason is stronger than the initial belief, you won’t regress.
- Connect the cognitive with the emotional.
Unless you connect the cognitive with the emotional, you won’t get far. When you make the connection, the result is powerful.
- What kind of mood are you in?
- Are you stressed?
- Are you feeling down?
- Any level of discomfort or joy?
- Does your work fulfil you?
- Does your life fulfil you?
- Are you satisfied with your life?
Connect with the emotions that these questions might stir up. It will help you to understand yourself on a deeper level. Often, we don’t want to go here because it can be painful but it’s important for you to feel in order for you to identify what’s limiting you. Being honest with yourself about how you feel will help you progress. You deserve honesty.
- Improve your quality of thinking to improve the quality of your life.
Examine your thoughts in detail. What do you think about every day? Are your thoughts of quality? You’ll likely realise that a lot of them aren’t. What are you saying to yourself? What were you saying to yourself last night before you went to sleep? Your self-talk can be harmful and disempowering. Negative self-talk closes doors for you.
Look for the evidence to support what you’re telling yourself. Critically question what you’re saying to yourself. The more honest you are with yourself, the more opportunity you give yourself. When you improve your quality of thinking, you improve the quality of your life.
Do you overgeneralise when you talk to yourself? “I don’t like being in relationships.” “I’ll never get the contract.” Do you use phrases like this?
Do you minimise or magnify? “I forgot to send the email so my boss hates me.”
Do you label? “I didn’t stand up to my colleague because I’m a wimp.” “I’m an idiot for not seeing that coming.”
Do you jump to conclusions? Make negative assumptions about how people see you without any evidence? You’re not a mind reader. If your friend doesn’t show up, you don’t know that she can’t be bothered with you, but do you tell yourself that anyway?
Do you discount the positives? Do you engage in emotional reasoning? “I feel, therefore it must be true”. Sometimes we feel without even having an experience.
Once things go wrong, do you dismiss everything? “The steak is overdone so the whole meal was crap.”
Do you use all or nothing statements? “If I don’t get this job then I’m a failure.”
“I should”, “I must”, “I have to”. Reframe these into what they really are: “I want to”, and think about why you want to.
Every time a negative thought occurs to you, catch yourself and reframe. When negative talk seeps in, tell yourself, “That’s how I used to be, that’s not how I am now. I’m aware of what’s happening.”
Be who you want to be. For example, tell yourself, “Up until now I was a procrastinator; I lacked direction but that’s not how I am anymore. I now give 100% to everything I do; I bring energy and enthusiasm to everything I do.”
Connect with this new version of yourself. Tell yourself who you now are in detail: “I’ve an amazing work ethic. I’m growing my awareness. I know and understand how my body needs breaks and I nourish my body and my mind. This is me.”
If you repeat this kind of affirming self-talk 3-5 times daily, you’ll trick your mind into believing that you are living this and you’ll start moving towards this person more quickly.
- Practice gratitude in depth.
Effectively practicing gratitude is not as simple as reciting what you’re grateful for at the end of each day. Go a little deeper. Write down three things you’re grateful for today. Consider why you are grateful for them. This practice will change the chemistry in your head. Connecting feelings to what you write is powerful.
There must be something that happened today to be grateful for, no matter how small, even if it was a bad day. For example, think of a parent trying to manage a difficult child who constantly misbehaves and never listens. One day, the child didn’t brush his teeth, dress himself, or eat his breakfast. When he was dropped to school, he was shouting in the car. However, he did close the door behind him when he got out of the car. Out of all the pitfalls of that day, the fact that he closed the door behind him is a positive that that parent can be grateful for. Now they have something to build on.
So many positives happen all around you every day but you deem them insignificant. Any step forward is an accomplishment. Recognising these will keep you motivated and energised. Consequently, it’ll be easier for you to maintain your progress.
- Be your own cheerleader.
We are often the cheerleaders of everybody else. Start being your own cheerleader. Maybe you got to the gym when you contemplated not going. Maybe you got up earlier when you considered going back asleep. They’re accomplishments.
Find a mirror. Hold your hand up high. Connect with that person in the mirror; connect with that emotion of celebration. Tell yourself why you’re applauding yourself. Feel it. Give that person in the mirror a high five.
We have the memory of doing that to so many other people, but we often fail to stop and give ourselves that recognition.
Being your own cheerleader will energise and motivate you. Make it a daily practice, stack it onto a current exercise that you do regularly like brushing your teeth.
- Set a regular alarm to check in on yourself.
Set an alarm to go off every hour or two hours. When you hear it, ask yourself how you’re feeling. Reflect on yourself. Consider: “How do I want my next hour to look?”
If you’re feeling down, ask yourself, why are you feeling down? If you’re feeling nervous, why are you feeling nervous? Consider what you can do in the next hour to lift your mood.
- Try visualisation.
Visualisations are powerful and they take practice. While practicing visualisation, consider your five senses and the three dimensions.
Sit comfortably in your chair. Tell yourself you’re in a safe place. Consciously breathe in and out. Close your eyes. Feel your body relax as you become more comfortable. Pay attention to your posture – your hands loosely on your lap. Take a few slow deep breaths, in through your nose out through your mouth allowing your body to become even more relaxed.
Use your imagination to picture yourself standing in a kitchen. What colour are the counter tops and the walls? Notice the smells/sounds, the washing machine, cars outside, the clock on the wall. What are you smelling? Use all of your senses. Take your time. Now imagine a fresh, juicy orange on the counter. Hold it in your hand feeling the supple texture. Now begin to peel the orange, feeling the rough skin against your fingers, and the supple, plumpness of the flesh and juice inside. Smell that fresh orange smell as the skin comes away. Now lift it up to your mouth and take a bite. What was your experience? Can you smell the orange? Can you taste it? Are you salivating? Your memories were triggered during this visualisation.
Now try visualisation to ace that interview. Or nail that performance. Imagine you’re walking into the interview room or onto the stage…
- You are the architect of your life.
Consider this: An old wise man had his friends around for dinner. He passed fortune cookies to each of them. They excitedly broke open the fortune cookies to see what their futures will hold, but the paper was blank. The man asked his friends to write what they wanted their futures to be.
Everything you do is your choice. There is no-one else holding you back; no-one has you at gunpoint. You are in control of your life and your decisions. You need to expect more from yourself than anyone else expects from you.
Only you can define your future. Don’t allow it to be dictated to you by anyone else. You get to write the next chapter of your story. What do you want it to be? Who do you want to surround yourself with? You’re the narrator.
We all tend to find comparisons in order to judge ourselves. We tend not to look for
people at our level of skill/ability, instead we look at people in the height of their
careers. If you find yourself wanting to compare your career to others, keep
comparisons to people who are at your current level of skill/ability or just above it.
2. Look at the things that are working well and build on them.
Our careers as creatives move in spirals as opposed to a singular, linear trajectory. It’s
natural in our careers to not know what’s next. We don’t have conventional careers;
there’s no fully predictable trajectory.
If we don’t know where we are in our careers, we can tend to feel a bit lost. It’s
difficult to track a creative career, i.e., you’re always an artist rather than progressing
from role to role, up a ladder, like people do in other sectors. We’ll go through
periods of not knowing and knowing.
What have you done so far in your career? Map out where you started in your career
to where you are now on your career journey. Consider the steps you took from the
start of your career to where you are now. Focus on the approaches & strategies that
worked for you and build upon them.
3. Think creatively about your vision of career success.
When considering our career development, we can often put the cart before the
horse; focusing on our professional development at the expense of our personal
development. Be creative when thinking of your vision of your career's future. Create
a clear picture of what you’re moving towards and consider the following themes:
What do you want your lifestyle to look like on a day-to-day basis? When do you
want to work? How much free time do you want? Getting clarity on that will help
you as you continue to construct your career. It can inform your decision-making re.
jobs you're offered and the kind of career you’re moving towards.
Think about the impact you want your career to have. How do you want your partner
to feel living with an artist? How do you want your family to feel? You can spend 20
years being a highly-paid writer but could find yourself doing so in a way that’s
negatively impacting upon you and the people around you. Be more intentional
about what you'd like your impact to be from the outset.
Constantly working in a way that makes us feel as if we’re not being appreciated
financially can lead to burnout.
What financial figure are you happy and excited to work for? What experience do
you already have and what will you be delivering to make you feel confident asking
for that figure? It might feel out of reach but thinking about this gives you
something to aim for.
Consider what emotional experience you’d like to have on a day-to-day basis as a
successful creative. This is the theme that can make artists leave the profession. It’s
important that we feel engaged and excited in our careers. Are fun and playfulness
important to you in your work? If you’ve decided, “yes”, then use this knowledge to
filter out work you know will be lacking fun and playfulness. Again, considering this
will help to guide your career and the jobs you accept or don’t accept.
4. Work backwards from a career goal to get a step-by-step trajectory.
For example, maybe your goal is winning an Oscar for your documentary. What’s the
preceding step to that goal? Perhaps it’s getting into an international festival. What
step precedes that? Perhaps, getting your work into a local film festival. What step
goes before that? Finishing the film! Now you have a step-by-step career outline.
– Finish a feature documentary
– Get it into a local film festival
– Get it into an international film festival
– Win an Oscar
These are stepping stones creatively drawn from your personal ideal. By using an
approach like this, you can begin to self-direct your career. Alternatively, you can
work forward from where you are now by considering which stepping stone is likely
to lead you one step in the right direction. What is the next step that’ll make you feel
like you’re making progress? Take the next step in that career you’ve mapped out
and break it down into practical steps. Break down one stepping stone into lots of
Thinking backwards from your ideal career goal helps you to side-step the error of
basing your future potential on your current knowledge and ability. We learn and
acquire skills over time. What might be out of your reach today may not be in the
near future. Don’t forget this when mapping out your career.
5. Make better use of chance encounters and situations.
Let’s be honest, the average creative career hasn’t been cleverly plotted out. So
much randomness comes into our careers. In fact, some studies put 60% of career
success down to chance, with 40% down to strategy. If 60% of your career is random,
how can you feel satisfied and fulfilled? The answer is to make better use of chance.
Or happenstance as it is known.
Staying open minded and flexible will enable you to be open to unplanned
opportunities and to make the most of them. Don’t become blinkered by rigidly
holding onto unwavering career plans and goals. Make peace with knowing that
unplanned events will happen. Don’t fall into an avoidance approach. In every work
situation/meeting, consider, “How can I use this?”
6. When you meet new people, don’t talk about your past work, talk about
If anyone asks, “What do you do for a living?”, respond with what you’re passionate
about or what project you’re currently working on and why it’s important to you.
When people know where we’re going, it’s easier for them to connect with us.
Talking about the past gives people context, but it’s not going to give the other
person much of an idea of the type of work you see yourself doing next.
Help new acquaintances make a connection with you. Talk about the current
stepping stones you’re working on. Your new acquaintance might know someone
who could help you.
Never wait for finely tuned plans to develop before putting the wheels in motion.
Careers are social and built on relationships. The wider you can spread your network,
7. Try a solution-focused approach.
When we’re faced with a problem, our minds typically try to fix the problem. A
solution-focused approach focuses on where we want to end up instead.
Google Maps is a great example of a solution-focused application. It won’t try to fix
the traffic or the dodgy one-way systems. It focuses on getting you to your
destination, providing you with multiple options for doing so. Maybe you can get to
your destination without having to fix the problem you're faced with.
A solution-based approach is also a creative approach. It involves throwing new
ideas around and generating as many possible options as your brain will allow.
Focusing on the problem often lowers your mood. A solution-based approach is
fundamentally about what’s wanted and what’s working. It’s focused towards
progress and breeds hope.
Know that while you can’t change everything, in most situations you have some level
of influence. Find it and use it.
In an unpredictable creative career with an unpredictable future, solution-based
focused approaches can be really helpful.
Juley Ann Collins presents a webinar on application writing for Minding Creative Minds.
1. Ensure your values align with the funder before applying.
Which artists and organisations do you like and admire? Find out where they got funding from or whom they funded. Then, consider going down that route.
Define your values as a creative professional. Do these align with certain venues, collectives, or funders? Ensure that your values align with the funders before applying. The guidelines of a particular fund will cite its purpose, objectives, and values. This is what you want to be aligned with. Don’t apply if they don’t match.
Be honest with yourself re. your values and skillset. These are different to other applicants’, which is why the right fit is important.
2. Build your personal library as your go-to for funding applications.
Having this library ready in a folder on your Desktop will save you time. Regularly feed in and update it. It should include:
– Up-to-date CVs; different versions – no more than 2 pages each.
– Your biography – have different versions.
– Images/videos/soundfiles capturing what you’ve worked on.
– Letters of support from partners outlining their relationship with you and details of partnerships.
3. Treat your application like a first date.
Don’t assume anyone knows who you are or what you’ve worked on when writing your application.
4. Your budget is your shopping list to get this project over the line.
Your budget must include every single thing that you need. If it’s not listed, you can’t do it.
Be specific, e.g., outline how many artists you need and for how many days/weeks you need them for.
Ensure you include:
– Any research/development work.
– Whether different people are needed for different dates on a tour.
– Any additional financial support from another funder.
– Marketing and PR costs.
– A contingency pot. This is your protected pot of money for unforeseeable circumstances.
– A breakdown of annual insurance into the days, months, or years relevant to your project.
– Benefit in kind. This is something that doesn’t come to you in funds but does have a monetary value, e.g., someone offering use of their venue for free or a mentor giving you half of their time for free. Your WiFi bills are included here too, as well as your work-from-home electrical costs.
No one budget will be the same.
5. When in doubt, call a friend to talk it out.
Get any issue out of your head and bounce it off someone. Your network is always bigger than you think.
6. Panelists are looking to eliminate applicants.
Before submitting, check you have all of the documents that you’ve been asked for. Make sure everything is as clear as possible on your application. Don’t add anything unless it’s asked for, e.g., only submit hyperlinks if you’re asked for them. Panelists are looking for a reason to eliminate you. Don’t give them any.
7. Tell yourself you’ll submit 48 hours before the deadline.
You never know what’s going to happen; what could crop up, e.g., waiting for supporting documents commonly causes delays.
8. Read your application out loud before submitting.
This will ensure that what you’ve written is clear and easy to understand for the panelist.
1. Be sure the funding you’re applying for is right for you.
Have a clear sense of who you are as a maker/writer. Consider what stage you are at in your career: emerging or established?
When you’re considering a fund to apply for, take a step back and think about how it will benefit you at this point in your career or at this point in your play’s development. If it’s a once-off funding award, make sure it hits at the right moment in your career.
Awards usually have a list of people who’ve received them previously on their sites. Look at who these people are and what stage their career was at when they received funding. This will help you to decide if you should apply for a particular fund.
2. Local arts office funding has restricted applications
The competitive level is reduced for local arts office funds as they’re not open on a national level. Your odds of achieving local arts office funding increases compared to national awards.
Some local arts offices are better than others at providing funding so consider applying to the local arts office in your home county/region if it’s different to where you currently live.
3. There’s an understanding that venues will support artists.
Go and have a relationship with venues as an individual. It will improve your chances of connecting for playwriting support in the long-run.
4. Ask for more information.
If there aren’t detailed guidelines or FAQs accompanying a funding opportunity, send in questions before you apply. Anything that’s an open call expects to have interaction with the public, so dig deeper to give your application a stronger chance of success.
5. You may need multiple funders to get your new play staged.
If you’re looking at a new play poster, you’ll generally see several logos attached because that many organisations have funded it. That’s the kind of risk-deleveraging that’s often needed for new plays.
6. Consider UK playwriting competitions & awards.
Most of the UK awards are also open to Irish applicants; this still is the case post-Brexit, however check their FAQs.
7. Have a relationship with The Arts Council of Ireland
Subscribe to their monthly newsletter. Attend live clinics and meet the theatre team.
8. Always request feedback.
Always request feedback from both successful and unsuccessful Arts Council funding applications. This feedback informs your ongoing relationship with them.
9. Define your role in the casting process ahead of time.
Now that you have your funding and your play is being staged, ask yourself:
● What will your input into the casting process be?
● Will you be in the room with the director?
● Will you supply potential creative team names for consideration as part of the selection process?
Your agent (if you have one) will negotiate a lot of this, but if not, it’s up to you. Define what you want, and talk to the producer at the earliest stage regarding this.
10. Define your role in the rehearsal room ahead of time.
Before you get near the rehearsal room, define whether you’re open to edits during rehearsals or whether the script is locked off. You will have to facilitate technical changes e.g., a costume quick change, which is reasonable, but are you open to bigger changes like character discovery? That’s a conversation that needs to be had with the director before getting into the rehearsal room.
Define how long you’re required to join rehearsals for. Is it the whole first week? Are you required to be back for the first whole run-through? Crucially, define what the communication lines are for you into the rehearsal room. Will you receive the daily rehearsal report from the stage manager? Will you receive the annotated changes?
Some writers want to be there every day. Others don’t want to be there for the first weeks of rehearsal because it can seem like your text is being torn apart while the director and team figure things out. This is natural.
Other questions to consider ahead of time include: Who has final say on including any improvisation? Will you be the scribe in the room taking down new dialogue? Will you be doing the overnight edit of that? That’s a lot of work so be very clear on whether you are doing that. You should be paid for all of this work which is above and beyond any commissioning/royalty agreements.
Guinness Enterprise Centre,
ROI: 1800 814 244
NI/UK: 0800 0903677
International: 00353 1 518 0277