Tuesday, March 29, 2011

smARTscope Program - Phase 2

Good afternoon all,

As per my recent post, today is deployment day for the surveys for our 2nd phase organizations. Here's hoping that all runs as smoothly as the 1st phase, and we can continue to be successful.

I'll keep you all posted on the success of the end of phase 1, and how phase 2 is moving along in the upcoming weeks. And organizations that have not heard about their survey dates - don't worry. We will be in touch in the next month or two to get you fully prepared for the survey stage of the program.

Thanks everyone!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

smARTscope Program - Phase 1

I thought it was about time that I posted an update as to how the smARTscope process is going. As of today, A&BC have successfully deployed the surveys to the first 8 organizations, and our consultants are busily analyzing the data in preparation for the cohesion meetings, which in the main are all scheduled within the deadlines set.

We achieved a completion rate of nearly 100% on the surveys, so I want to extend a big thank you to all of the survey takers, and the lead contacts for each organization, for their efforts to ensure that this part of the process was completed accurately and efficiently.

A&BC are also very close to being ready for the survey rollout to the next 8 organizations, and everything will be in place well before our deployment date of 29th March. I really hope that the next phase is as smooth as the 1st, and although we have a high standard set, I'm sure the 2nd phase organizations will not let us down!

Finally, any organization that has not been contacted yet regarding the survey - Don't worry, we have not forgotten about you! All organizations have been assigned in our rollout process, which means we have 15 organizations left split between the 3rd and 4th phase of rollout. I will be emailing the lead contacts of these organizations for survey takers well before their actual deployment date, so keep your eyes peeled for an email in your inbox.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Malawi healthcare film to air on Link TV – DIRECTV/DISH Network & online

My short film, 2 Things Involved, will air nationally on Link TV – DIRECTV 375/DISH Network 9410 – on Wednesday, March 9 at 8:30 pm PT/11:30 pm ET and Thursday, March 10 at 6 pm PT/9pm ET as part of a half-hour program featuring the best entries to Link TV's ViewChange Online Film Contest. 2 Things Involved will be part of an episode featuring inspiring stories of innovative solutions to rural healthcare. Tune in or watch it online at LinkTV.org/programs/viewchange!

2 Things Involved is now also available to watch at Hulu.com/viewchange and the film will soon be disseminated through other outlets as well, such as Snag Films, WGBH's "World" Channel (which is carried on 150 PBS stations), and other international stations.

This five-minute film is part of a feature documentary about healthcare in Malawi, In the Warm Heart, currently in postproduction. Watch for our website, InTheWarmHeart.com, which will be up and running by the end of March.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

News from our Mayor-elect

From the Tribune article by Chris Jones:

"In a wide-ranging interview about cultural matters with the Tribune last week, Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's mayor-elect, signaled his intent to “raise up” the arts in Chicago, especially in the neighborhoods, and previewed a major generational and cultural shift at a City Hall about to be run by a confident leader who listens to the alternative rock band Wilco, likes the darker plays at Steppenwolf Theatre and American Theater Company and is not about to stop hanging out at rock venues like Schubas or the Riviera Theatre.

Self-evidently, this is not to be your father's mayoralty. For unlike the man he is replacing, Emanuel clearly enjoys expressing his views on rock music, slam poetry and edgy plays — in radio studios and other public forums. Indeed, he has been eager to do so."

Click here to read more.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tips from the Grant Geek

I want to use this blog to share some reminders about applicable sources of funding and my personal perspective on effective grantwriting.

To clarify, all SG orgs are eligible to apply for grants from the Arts Work Fund. Although it is housed at the Trust, it is a collaborative fund comprised of about 10 contributors, so it is not considered a second grant from us. The next DEADLINE IS MAY 15, 2011.

You may also wish to check out
Living Philanthropic to see how a former SG grantee, Changing Worlds, was able to benefit from this new online fundraising opportunity.

Congratulations to Young Chicago Authors, another SG graduate, for being selected as the recipient of the $5,000 donation from the "Fake Rahm" twitter fun!

On a more serious note, here's my tip for today. The 3 most essential elements of a grant request are: 1) being on time, 2) being complete, and 3) being compelling. I hope the first two are self-evident, so I'll focus on my definition of "compelling" for the next couple of posts, and at the risk of sounding negative, I'll feature the most common things that are NOT COMPELLING!

Vague superlatives are not compelling. Every proposal I read, from mega-million dollar institutions to SG applicants, states repeatedly that their work (no matter what it is) is "high quality". The majority also use "world-class", "innovative", unique" and "award-winning" over and over again. Frankly, this is a waste of characters (given the limit) because it is so relative and subjective and vague that it becomes useless as an evaluative measure.

If your org has won an award (recently - within the last 3 years), state what it is. If you've performed internationally and received acclaim abroad, be specific.

In the arts, "quality" is similar to "beauty"; it is often in the eye of the beholder. People tend to assume that if an organization is prestigious and well-endowed that its work is high quality because it has attracted such wide attention and support; however, you will probably agree that small organizations that are lesser known can also produce work that some of these very same judges would regard as high quality, but of course, they don't know about it. There are always debates about who is the judge of "quality" in the arts, and that's probably healthy but it should not be the focus of grantmaking.

Think about the specific descriptors that are unique and measurable about your work. If it is arts ed, perhaps it is "effective" in achieving the stated student outcomes at a certain level that is measured over time. If your work strives to further the public understanding of a particular culture, then one specific factor would be "authenticity" - how authentic is the work you are doing, how well-researched, how deeply connected to its roots, etc. If "unique" or "innovative" is your point of difference, then you need to demonstrate that you've actually researched the other options in the region and can document that your org is the only one doing this work.

I know this is a geeky way to analyze grantwriting, but when you read hundreds of them (as I do), it seems like it would be helpful to share some of these insights.