As an artist, you may find that art shows, exhibitions and other career-advancing events require you to submit a proposal before your work is accepted. You may also find yourself writing artistic grant proposals to secure funding for large projects. A proposal is similar to a resume in that it must be clear, cohesive and persuasive, and its purpose is to gain acceptance or approval from the reader. While the semantics of your proposal will depend on what organisation you're submitting it to, the basics of proposal writing are similar across the board.
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Identify your audience. You must decide who you're writing for and what they value. If you're submitting an artist proposal for an exhibition, research the exhibit venue and the owner to find out what type of art they're looking for. Once you establish your audience, you'll be able to tailor your proposal to fit its specific needs.
Acquire the guidelines from the organisation that will be reviewing the proposal. This will let you know what and how much information to include, as well as how long the proposal should be. Many companies won't accept proposals that don't meet their guidelines.
Write the introduction. This section may include a brief description of yourself as an artist, including your skills and interests in specific areas. According to Cleveland Public Art, this section is intended to identify yourself and your abilities, artistic process and concept development. The introduction may also include a need or problem statement, which specifies why your proposal is important.
Write the objectives of the project you're proposing. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish and why you need the help of this organisation. If your goal is to submit artwork into a competition, think about what's special about your art and why this organisation should include it in its exhibit.
Include professional images of your work with the proposal. If you're submitting specific works to be considered for a show, make sure their images are clear and well lit. For more general proposals, such as for grants, make sure the images you select accurately represent your work.
Complete the proposal by including all the required elements. You may need a methodology and budget section if you're writing an artistic grant proposal.
Revise your proposal as many times as possible before submitting the final product. It's usually a good idea to have at least one person review it, so you can get feedback on the content and also ensure there aren't any typos or other mistakes in the copy.
Tips and warnings
- The introduction is the first thing your reader will see, so get creative and open with a strong, attention-grabbing statement.
- Write in active voice as much as possible. This means avoiding "to be" variations before a verb. (For example, "the boy threw the ball" is active, while "the ball was thrown by the boy" is passive.)
- Remember that you're trying to make yourself stand out as an artist, so identify what sets you apart from the crowd and try to incorporate that into your proposal. This is not a time to be humble.
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