Some funding applications for you to read, copy, get wealthy with


This one’s probably a bad idea for reasons I’m not 100% clear on, but you know, fuck it.

Yolande Norris is going up to Crack in a couple of weeks to run a workshop on grant writing, which will be dope. She and I were having a chat over the phone about it, talking about what would be most useful for people to know, how best to communicate grant-writing practice for people who haven’t done it before. And the thing that I kept coming back to was: you need to see examples of other grants people have written.

My first grant application, Sylvie Stern sat down with me and basically helped me write it, paragraph for paragraph. Because she was fucking wonderful and had the time and patience to sit down with a wannabe theatre-kid and talk me through it line by line.

When Gills and I started the Crack Theatre Festival in 2009 I had no idea about festivals or anything to do with them. One thing that stuck out for me was Nic Low (National Young Writers Festival director at the time) showing me his budget spreadsheet for the NYWF – and it blew my mind. I had no idea what they were supposed to look like, and suddenly it all fell into place and I managed to fumble my way forward from there.

A year or two ago Bryony Kimmings kicked off her brilliant You Show Me Yours project where she started sharing her project budgets publicly, to open them up to discussion. It’s fucking scary sharing your budgets, because everyone’s a fucking expert, everyone knows what you’re doing wrong, and there’s no defending yourself against lazy armchair critics. But I thought it was a great initiative, and I wished then that I’d had the courage to share my own admin files.

It’s been said by heaps of people that signing up to be a peer assessor for one of the funding bodies is a great way to learn about grantwriting – you read hundreds of the things, and get an insight into what makes a good application and what makes one crash and burn. Being a festival director was similar, in that we were digesting and responding to heaps of applications and trying to glean the content out of the awkward grant-speak. But not everyone has the time or capacity to be a grant assessor. It shouldn’t be a requirement, should it?

With all that in mind, I decided it was probably time to share some of my old applications here, for anyone who might be interested, and particularly anyone who’s pretty new to the grantwriting game. They’re not necessarily any good (and they definitely didn’t all get funded), but maybe if you’re getting your head around the whole world of funding, these might be worth glancing at?

I really wanted to include a couple of the applications I wrote for Crack and the You Are Here festivals, but because there was a whole bunch of people involved in the writing of those, I don’t really feel I can share them. Weird how personal some of this stuff, feels, hey – especially when you think you mail this shit off to some random strangers you’ve never met to read it over and give you a thumbs up or down. But there you go. So I’ve shared what I feel I can share.

Good luck all you motherfuckers we’re gonna be okay we’re gonna be okay

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 9.37.42 am copythis has nothing to do with anything really but I watched How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days this week and here is a screenshot of Kate Hudson

I applied for Asialink’s 2015 round and was successful – I don’t think you need to apply with a budget, or at least I couldn’t see one in my application, so this was the bulk of it.

David Finnigan – Asialink application 2014

The Australian Network for Art and Technology has (had?) a program called Synapse, where artists undertake residencies in research institutions. I applied for funding to complete a three-month program of research at University College London in 2011 – and I didn’t get it. Not sure why, but I have a sneaking suspicion the hyperbolic last paragraph in the proposal didn’t help.

David Finnigan – ANAT Synapse application 2011
David Finnigan – ANAT Synapse budget 2011

I’m not heaps into the name ‘realise your dream’ for this funding opportunity, which is (was?) the British Council helping Australian artists get over to the UK. But that might be just sour grapes because I didn’t get the funding.

David Finnigan – Realise Yr Dream application 2012

This is Ozco’s initiative to support early career interdisciplinary practitioners with a two-year fellowship to support their practice. I was really fortunate to get this one – I think the program has been impacted now by the $104.7 million funding cut to Ozco.

David Finnigan – Ozco Creative Fellowship application 2014

Boho was invited over to the UK to present the first season of Best Festival Ever in residence at the London Science Museum. To help cover our costs to get us over there, we applied to Ozco’s Experimental Arts fund – and we were successful.

David Finnigan – Ozco Experimental Arts application 2014

I had a hunt around my hard drive for the budget for this application, but because the project was funded by a variety of sources (seven, by my rough count) it’s a bit too messy to share here. Get at me via the email if yr curious.

Aight, I hope this is vaguely of interest to yall – if not, here’s Dean Blunt’s 100, get to it.

Where do your ideas come from, Finnigan?

11403122_878358258904464_9171899985380855876_nconfused finig. pic by toni munoz.

This is one of those weeks where I go around and around in frantic mental circles questioning the choices that got me to where I am. What is driving me to make work? What is the machinery behind my process?

Like I’ve said before, without the structure of a full-time gig, it’s easy for an artist like me to run into all sorts of existential questions. Unless I’m right in the thick of a project, I have time to stop and question myself. And right now I don’t have the momentum to ignore the worry that it might all be a total shambles. And so last night, sitting alone in a parked car, I was thinking over and over about how projects get started.

How does it happen, then? Finig where do your ideas come from?

Usually the seed of an idea comes from my frequent and high-dosage sensations of jealousy, fear, anger and particularly, spite. That’s where it starts, and later, if I’m lucky, comes a slightly more healthy mix of constructive emotions.

The seed of an idea is usually the urge to needle someone. Most of the YAH events that I programmed came from a specific urge to annoy Hadley or Yolande. This is how we came to hosting a Christmas In March event with a reenactment of the Beep Test in the middle of it. Or I air a stupid thought on social media, and as soon as someone criticises it, that’s enough to guarantee that it happens.

11201905_10153798855799505_1379026310089970685_neven my best ideas are bad, and involve me being a reindeer for hadley. pic by adam thomas.

Then, once an idea exists, you can apply your social conscience, intelligence, sense of craft and aesthetic values on top of it. Does it engage the community, is it accessible, is it meaningful, does it resonate with the context? These are crucial filters, but the idea itself doesn’t come from those questions. Nothing so noble or constructive in that first moment.

If enough people say something is a bad idea, I’m gonna double down on it. I could’ve let Kill Climate Deniers go, if not for the fact that some peeps insisted on making a feeble melodrama out of the fact that ArtsACT funded the script development. Now the sheer fact of that challenge has engaged those instincts, and it’s going to happen. Because it matters, because it’s relevant, because it’s saying something purposeful and worthwhile, but also because a bunch of people think it’s a bad idea.

My decision-making flowchart is a fucking shambles, and my internal mental process for What Should I Do Now is more dependent on what’s on my walkman than any kind of logical scheme. In general: If I’m not feeling scared, I’m not happy. If I’m not out of my depth, I’m not happy. If I’m not directly contravening someone’s well meaning advice, I’m not happy.

I don’t have a plan, but I know that I can’t really trust anyone else’s example, because I don’t know anyone who’s done what I want to do. And what is that? I don’t know, but I know it doesn’t look quite like anything I’ve seen before.

My decision-making is based off bad instincts, fortified by collaborators who, I mean we trust each other, even if none of us really knows what it all adds up to, and guided by cobbled-together bits of advice from my mentors. Brenna Hobson. Nicole Canham. Jan Wawrzynczak. Tassos Stevens. Robyn Archer. Good, thoughtful advice, applied haphazardly and without a sense of the big picture.

I think to myself, what are you doing? I think to myself, you have to do something, you have to make something. I think to myself, these are the stories you need to tell, these are the things you need to fix. I think to myself, have you fucked over anyone recently? I mean, specifically? I think to myself, make something, anything, to distract yourself from thinking.

I think about the refrain of this old Gomez tune a lot – the chorus goes, ‘you better convince me man, cause I don’t know what I’m doing – you better convince me man, cause I don’t know who I’m screwing.’

11703515_10155819472915704_4704864505902018753_othis was karnabal, which was also a confusing experience. pic by jordan prosser.

Some days you’re at a crossroads, and all you really know is that none of the roads go anywhere you want to be, but you need to keep moving or else you’ll rot on the pavement where thou rottedst half.

You don’t want to get a gig in any of the structures because you don’t believe in the system, you’re not looking for a full-time job as a whatever in an organisation. But outside those structures you can’t do anything, make anything, change anything. And you’re already implicated up to your neck and there’s no point pretending otherwise.

You want people to see your work, you want your work to be part of the ecosystem, you want to be a part of the conversation and somehow move the conversation towards that point of crisis, you want to build platforms where people can come together and begin to address the real challenges facing us as a species, as a planet. But you don’t know how to connect your work to all those people in the world. How does work find an audience?

Those institutions, the theatres and the TV studios and the radio stations, they’re full of beautiful people working hard, and some days they seem so porous and other days they seem baffingly impenetrable. And you feel like if you could fold yourself into the right shape maybe you could slide through the gaps. But there’s no logical way to do that and maybe it’s bad news to start thinking about folding yourself into anything.

Jess said our job is to keep flashing our lights at the sky:

The problem for us is having enough rocket fuel to beam up our signals for as long as we can, and to trudge along with enough water packed on our backs to stay healthy in all the right ways. Our job is to keep making, keep creating, while recognising that sometimes the sky is very full and even very bright messages can be dulled by the camera-flash cacophony that surrounds us.


And today I just wrote, for no-one really, something that doesn’t really fit anyone’s template of the art they want, a piece about a vigilante group forming to rescue a kidnapped popstar, a thing just for me, probably.

I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing.

I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

IMG_0596rev 01image by javier vela