Inciter Art

a writing, co-learning, and resource sharing space for an arts ecosystem with big ideas and bigger questions.

Vicky Blume Post by Vicky Blume

By Vicky Blume on March 26th, 2024

Print/Save as PDF

Goldilocks and the Three Grants

Funding | Resources | Opportunities | Creative Networks

In grant applications, Goldilocks identifies as an artist first, bear second. Most reviewers assume she’s not a serious artist, because they see the claws, smell the salmon breath, and make their hasty little conclusions. Between raising her fearless cubs and navigating the stressful effects of climate change on their ecosystem, it’s tough to find time for making art—let alone getting it funded. But 2024 is gonna be different, Goldilocks hums to herself. She’s not just looking for any ol’ grant, either. She wants to spend her limited time going for opportunities that she’s ready for, suited for, and genuinely excited about.

If you’re anything like Goldilocks, wading through dozens of grant, residency, and award listings in one sitting is just a typical Tuesday. But applying for them all is time consuming, expensive, and demoralizing. While the whole premise of pitting artists against each other is flawed, Goldilocks’ story (the 2024 version) can teach us something about navigating the arts funding landscape more easefully. When you know who you are, accept where you’re at, and look for people who share your values, the process of putting yourself out there can become more fulfilling—regardless of the outcome.


Goldilocks and the “Too Green” Grant

Goldilocks has always felt called to art, but she makes sure not to use that as the introductory sentence in her grant applications. Instead, she invites readers into her creative practice by describing one of her recent installations—what it looked like, how it smelled, and the serendipity of a possum family turning the artwork into their new home. After setting the scene with a concrete description, she connects the work to the broader themes of her practice, like habitat loss, parenting during climate disaster, and interspecies collaboration. She likes to think she’s pretty seasoned when it comes to describing her work to strangers.

Other parts of the research and application process still leave Goldilocks scratching her head. At a recent bear-artist meet-up in the St. Croix river valley (bear country, baby), a local black bear encouraged her to apply for the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowships by April 15th, 2024. She was a clear fit for most of the criteria—legal-ish resident of Minnesota, public installation artist, work challenges cultural norms—but the “emerging artist” requirement gave Goldilocks pause. Was she still emerging? Or mid-career? As a practicing, working artist, isn’t she already established? With some digging, she found the Foundation’s official stance: “There is no exact and singular definition of an emerging creative artist. The Foundation seeks to support those artists who show significant potential, yet are under-recognized.”

With a few residencies, solo shows, and multi-year grants under her belt, Goldilocks admitted to herself that she would probably be considered “mid-career” by most institutions. This fellowship struck her as a seedling opportunity, better suited for a young, hungry cub. Keep looking, she growled to herself, we’ll find our fit.


Goldilocks and the “Too Far” Fellowship

As any parent-artist can tell you, having cubs changes everything. Goldilocks’ den used to double as an artist studio, and winters were her time to dig in and do some deep work on upcoming projects. Now, keeping her boisterous cubs entertained for 3+ months in 9 square feet of space is the ultimate creative challenge. Springtime is on the horizon so her cubs will soon venture forth on their own, but she’s determined to stay close by for their first season. God knows what teens get up to these days with their vape worms and salmon raves. 

So when Goldilocks’ friend, a wolf-artist specializing in interactive performance art inside abandoned shopping malls, pointed her towards the Wolfsonian Creative Fellowship (due April 30, 2024), she felt torn. The fellowship would require her to spend two weeks in Miami Beach, Florida immersing herself in the Wolfsonian collection and “[drawing] visual, conceptual, or storytelling inspiration from its wide range of historical materials.” On the one hand, Goldilocks was excited by the prospect of building out the research side of her practice in warm, sunny Florida. But after reflecting on her personal, creative seasons, she realized a travel fellowship might not align with her commitment to supporting her cubs’ first spring. Let’s go for it next year, Goldilocks rumbled.


Goldilocks and the “Just Right” Opportunity

People say there are five senses, but Goldilocks likes to say that artists have a sixth sense when it comes to finding people and orgs who share their values. Sniffing out funding opportunities becomes a whole lot easier (and more fun) when we use that sense to guide us in the application process. 

One day, when Goldilocks was paws deep in the soil of her latest project, a small bird settled down on a branch nearby and started working on a sculpture of twigs and fur. They got to chatting, as co-working artists do, and Goldilocks learned that the bird wanted to apply for the Anonymous Was A Woman Environmental Art Grant, due on April 16th, 2024. The grant supports “environmental art projects led by women-identifying artists,” but the bird was stumped on the public engagement part of her proposal. As she listed possible themes from the website—ecofeminism, interspecies relationships, systems-restoration—Goldilocks’ ears perked up. The grant was perfect for her! But competing with the bird didn’t feel right, and an idea slowly blossomed.

“Would you want to go for the grant together,” Goldilocks asked, “and pool our resources?” The bird’s wings glittered with excitement. Within minutes, they were sketching ideas and listing budget items. The grant, their values, and the timing were in perfect alignment.


Finding Your Fit

Navigating the arts funding landscape can be a lonely and disheartening experience. The not-quite-right opportunities seem endless, and the “just right” opportunities are often elusive or ultra-competitive. But Goldilocks’ journey reminds us that knowing who you are, accepting where you’re at, and following your values is how we reclaim this dehumanizing process. Like bird, wolf, and black bear, you might even find some trusted allies who share your vision for a more just and creative world along the way.

For more grants and opportunities with April deadlines, check out
this month’s list, curated by Fractured Atlas staff. May dropping soon 🌸 via email and social.

More posts by Vicky Blume

About Vicky Blume

Vicky Blume is an arts worker based in New Haven, Connecticut. After moving to the city to study art and psychology at Yale, Blume lit up communications for a contemporary art gallery and a community art school. Most recently, she served as Creative-in-Residence at the New Haven Free Public Library's Tinker Lab. In her artistic practice, Blume builds interactive websites, animations, and installations that offer calming and consensual alternatives to the Attention Economy. At home, she is passionate about her houseplants but struggles to care for more sensitive plants. She aspires to create a home environment where every houseplant can thrive.