Jessica’s Journal: My First Grant

Jessica Broutt

by Jessica Broutt

As the development intern at the Fountain Theatre, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I was asked to write a grant.  Sure, I had done research. Written a few letters of intent. But last week marked the first time I was really on my own.

With everyone else in the office getting ready for previews of our newest play, the US Premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Blue Iris, I was spending my week looking at old grants,  a new project proposal, and a very tricky computer program I like to call Adobe.

Now, the first thing you have to understand about filling out a grant is that the most challenging part is figuring out how to use the required computer software.  After downloading the latest version of Adobe, I spent quite a few hours filling in tiny little boxes.  While this was annoying and terrifying, seeing as how I never trusted my hard work to be saved upon every return visit, it was nothing compared to writing the narratives.

In the narrative part of the grant, it gives the organization an opportunity to talk about its artistic mission, the history of its organization, what new project they propose to embark on if they do receive the grant.  This was the difficult part. As much as I love this theatre and feel at home here, I haven’t been around long enough to know a lot about its history.  However, my ten weeks here  has been enough time for me to see the type of patrons who come here, the kind of theatre we produce, and our artistic mission in practice.  I spent days not only trying to articulate how I saw our theatre, but reading up on how we had described our organization in previous grants.  And while there was a lot of regurgitating of previous data, there was also a lot of room for me to explain why I felt we deserved this grant and why this proposal was right for the organization to which we were applying.

I know the idea of sitting down and writing a grant may seem tedious and awful.  I assume that most creative types would rather do just about anything else than sit at a desk for hours on end, proving that your non-profit arts organization is worthy of funding.  But just like I love hearing the mundane details of other people’s lives or re-reading books, I can now add grant-writing to my list of strange fascinations.

It’s kind of wonderful to be a part of the creation of a grant at The Fountain. Think about it. I was able to have this amazing experience as an intern at the Fountain because someone else wrote a grant for it. Now I can pay it forward by writing a grant of my own and ensure that the Fountain gets more funding. Seems too good to be true.

I have spent 10 weeks learning about every part of this theatre. There is no better final exam than writing my own grant, showing what I have learned.

I felt so emotionally attached to this grant. In fact, when it was finally finished, I felt it necessary to hand deliver it despite the assurance from Stephen that it “just had to be postmarked by the 17th”. The idea of putting our possible grant money in the hands of the US Postal Service made me cringe. I have never been more happy to drive to Downtown L.A. in my life.

As I rode the elevator at the Department of Cultural Affairs and approached the desk to hand in my grant, I felt a little sad. But mostly wonderful.  I came out with a weight literally lifted out of my arms, and a new passion for grant-writing.  Filling in those little boxes may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but the prospect of doing something as wonderful for The Fountain as it has done for me made it well worth it.

Jessica Broutt is our summer intern from UC San Diego. Our thanks for the support of the Arts Internship Program at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission

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