Guide to Writing a Performance Grant

April 2, 2012, for Professor Giovanni Zanovello’s class, The Masses of Josquin des Prez

I have organized some basic principles for writing both the proposal narrative and budget portions of your grant assignment. The prezi file (a PowerPoint alternative, free for educators) outlining these guidelines is below. You can progress through the slides in order, but you can also zoom in and out and click to any location in the material. When we meet, I will elaborate on some of these guidelines with specific examples, including some of your own, ideally. I will also bring with me some grant evaluation forms that will be helpful as you read your own and each other’s proposals. I have tried to balance the information between details that are specific to your current assignment and general guidelines that will help you prepare grant proposals in the future–please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions!

Cassie Chambliss, GGC Consultant

Update: April 6, 2012

See Dr. Jeffrey Hass’s advice–Applying for Artistic Grants and Fellowships: Some practical suggestions learned from personal experiences, both good and bad–on our proposal writing resource page.

Structuring your grant proposal: There is no single strategy that works in all situations, but these guidelines can help you organize your narrative:

  1. Make sure reviwers know the gist of your project in the first half page. One strategy is to start with a “power intro,” a one- to three-sentence nutshell right at the top, then move into the main sections of your narrative.
  2. Make sure the narrative explicitly and obviously addresses each element of the application/instructions. Many people use them as section headings.
  3. Make sure the organization serves the primary functions of the narrative: persuade reviewers of the significance of your project, of the originality of your project or approach, and of your ability to carry out the project successfully. Details about scheduling and budget items should be put into the service of those purposes–don’t bury the point under a bunch of details.
  4. Find examples of proposals for the same or similar grants, and shamelessly steal organizational strategies.

Sample Grant Proposals:

  1. I’ve added links to some examples here, though you’ll have to translate what you find into useful principles for your field. The NEH and NEA examples on the UT Knoxville page are, unfortunately, password protected, but there is a simple performing arts proposal at the bottom of the page.
  2. Ask granting agencies and grant adminstrators if they make past applications available for review. For example, many of the past applications for Fulbright grants from IU students are available in the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs. Contact their office to make an appointment.
  3. Contact successful applicants and ask to see their proposals. Don’t be shy.


Tools for constructing a budget can be found on our Budget Resources page.

Let us know how we’re doing:

Follow this link to complete an anonymous survey that will help us serve IU graduate students more effectively: Thanks!

If the prezi window below doesn’t work, try using this link instead: