Document your work!

It seems obvious. You’re producing a concert. You’re being featured in an exhibition.  Your film is part of a festival. So you document the event, right? RIGHT?

It doesn’t always seem practical or necessary to document every event, project, or program you participate in, but it is crucial. You never know when you will need video showing your performance for 6th graders or photography of your paintings in a gallery. Many funders want to know how long your history of creating artwork is and documentation of every event helps you show your programming history.

There are multiple ways to document your work, and you should invest in more than one form of documentation.

  • Video
  • Photography
  • Audio Recordings
  • Archived Program Books
  • News Articles or Reviews
  • Press Releases

When it comes to creating a work sample, consider some different parameters:

  1. If you’re a performing artist, video is king. Try to use one master shot, rather than close-ups that don’t show all the stage action – unless you’re trying to emphasize a particular performer and performance such as a monologue or solo.
  2. It can be beneficial to take photographs with your audience in view. Showing the audience can help illustrate the diversity of your audience or provide evidence that you’re reaching a particular demographic.
  3. Consider quality and recency. More recent work will have higher value. Something more recent but low-quality video will be less helpful than something a little older but high quality recording or photography.
  4. If you’re proposing a particular production design, element, or audience environment, include illustrations to help the grant reviewers understand your concept. Remember, a picture speaks 1,000 words. This can be helpful when you have a 250 word count limit!
  5. For audio and video recordings, many grant applications have a limit of 2 to 5 minutes. Pick the very best 5 minutes of your sample and either edit your sample to that length or be very specific in your viewing instructions of where the reviewer should start the clip.

It used to be a lot harder to record and document artistic events. But with the prevalence of low-cost cameras today and the ease of use of mobile devices, there is no excuse to not document your work.

Your artistic work sample can make or break your grant application. And no grant writer can fake a sample for you. Set yourself up for success by documenting everything!

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