Submit a Solid Art Proposal

Make sure that your proposal is solid by following these eight steps.
1. If application guidelines exist, read them and follow the instructions.
Read them again and again, highlighting the important parts and making sure your project is a good fit. If you have questions, ask for clarification.
2. Understand your project fully.
Make sure you can do it and that you can articulate your abilities.
Is your budget complete and realistic? Do you need to hire additional help? What kind of a model would help readers visualize your project?

Karen Goetzinger
©2010 Karen Goetzinger, Stopped in Traffic: Time to Reflect. Mixed media textile. 12 x 36 inches.

3. Always keep the end-users (audience, fans, . . . ) in mind.
Are they the public? The workers in a large corporation? Who will benefit from your project and are you addressing their concerns?
4. Aim for clarity.
Emphasize key points in the first paragraph and grab the imagination and attention of the reader.
5. If the organization offers help with proposal writing, take it!
Organizations love it when artists care enough to seek help and do it right. You will get to know the staff and will, as a result of your dialogue, submit a far better proposal than if you had done it alone.
6. Allow yourself plenty of time.
Do not write a proposal the night before it's due. You must have time to change, rearrange, and edit your content.
7. Have at least one other person read your proposal.
This falls into the “duh” camp. Editors exist because everyone needs one. A non-biased set of eyes can see holes in your proposal that you can't. It's also helpful to read the proposal aloud.
8. Go back to the guidelines and make sure you have your supporting materials in order before you send it in.
The length should be within limits and, as a general rule, you shouldn't submit anything that isn't requested.

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8 thoughts on “Submit a Solid Art Proposal”

  1. Terrific advice as always. Seeing this in steps makes it seem very simple. At any rate writing art proposals has got to be easier than proposal writing for telescope time. At least for the Hubble the group has to not only write a paper with references but also specify exactly which objects will be observed, instruments to be used, which orbits, with filters, how long for each given observation, etc, etc, etc. (I still have a copy of the proposal I was involved in. It’s 23 pages long.)

  2. Thanks for the step by step guidelines. I have work in many public spaces, but have never had to write a proposal. Growth comes from experience. I am polishing off my first proposal. Appreciate the solid advice.

    1. Alyson, that question leads me to think you are a proposal writer? If so, what do you charge and what is your process. We are a art glass studio that work mostly on private jobs but have been attempting to get more public commissions.

  3. deborah archibald

    Have spent hours trying to find someone or an organization that can prepare
    a proposal for a choreographer of modern dance.
    Any suggestions, would be most helpful (at this stage of the game, I would jump
    over the moon!)
    Many thanks.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Deborah: We mostly talk visual art, so I’m afraid I don’t know of anyone who can help with your choreographer. Maybe check in with your state arts council.

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