Brimming with ideas for creative projects, but unsure of where to find the money to make them happen? 

As part of our 21cMusician programme in June 2021, Adam Szabo (Chief Executive) and Linda Begbie (Development Director) from Manchester Collective presented a session on funding for musicians.

Here are our ten top takeaways:

  • Be proactive

Your research should be an ongoing process, so start off by looking at who is funding projects like yours. Every time you go to a concert, or look at a programme or website, gather the names of people who are funding those people or projects. 

  • Investigate the main funding bodies which support individuals 

Here are some good starting points:

  • Help Musicians
  • Arts Council Project Grants
  • PRS Foundation 
  • Jerwood Arts
  • RVW Trust (for new commissions or programming rarely performed composers)
  • Ambache Charitable Trust (raising the profile of music by female composers)

  • Consider the funders’ perspective

Remember that funders have their own motivations, drives, historical reasons and strategic goals and values. When you approach a funder with your idea, always ask yourself what the funder is trying to achieve and try to match what you want to do with their priorities.

  • Do your research 

Get to know the history, people and motivation behind the organisation that you are applying to. Who else have they given money out to previously (this information should be available on the organisation's website or through the Charity Commission) and what kind of figures do they tend to give out? This will help you to tailor your own ask!

  • Read and reread the eligibility criteria

Yes it seems obvious, but this is such a common pitfall! Don’t waste your time by applying for something you’re not eligible for.

  • Read through the entire application before you start

Spend time thinking through each of the questions before you begin, and take a look at the reporting requirements too. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the process before you start, and what will be required of you if you receive funding. 

  • … and don’t forget the more subtle things too

What language and tone do the funders use? Craft your funding application accordingly.

  • Gather testimony to support your application

The words of other people who engage with your work are extremely powerful. Let their testimony speak for the quality of your work.

  • Don’t fudge your budget! 

Funders want to see that you have thought through your income and expenditure, and where else you are getting money from. Ensure that your budget is realistic and adds up, and don’t overcomplicate it! [Check out YCAT’s budgeting blog for some more advice]

  • Clarity is key 

Avoid jargon and acronyms, and don’t assume that the person reading your application has a deep knowledge of your area. Have someone from your peer group read over what you’ve written to make sure that it comes across clearly. Let your passion and personality come through whilst ensuring that you are really answering the funders’ questions. 

How do you get funders to connect with your project? Watch our highlight clip from this Manchester Collective Funding Focus.

About Manchester Collective

Known for their experimental programming and daring collaborations, the work of Manchester Collective has expanded at breakneck speed since their formation in 2016. They now play in concert halls, warehouses and factory spaces in 18 cities across Europe and the UK, performing a combination of cutting edge contemporary music, classical masterpieces, and staged theatrical work to a hungry, new audience.

Manchester Collective record exclusively for the Icelandic label Bedroom Community, with their debut album ‘The Centre is Everywhere’ released in March 2021. Through the COVID-19 lockdown, they produced a season of ten Isolation Broadcasts, watched by tens of thousands of fans all over the world.

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