Are You a Latina Creative Looking for Capital? You’ll Need Our Go-To Guide for Getting Funding to Support Your Important Work

Grants Fundraise BELatina

This is the last article of three in our series on financial support programs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic, Latina/o/x/Hispanic creatives often did their work within a blended context: a place where identity, craft, creativity, and access or lack thereof to capital, pitch rooms, and organization of cultural capital all combined to inform an artist’s storytelling.

Now we’re all sharing the last three elements of that context — no access to capital, no access to the means of production (development is another matter) and no access to the cultural capital of a given studio or cultural organization — (the culture of zoom meetings is a topic for another day).

But if there’s one thing Latino creatives have in abundance, it’s knowledge and experience in how to get our story out. We’ve had to self-produce, publish and distribute — because if we didn’t tell our story, no one would.

Now comes the pandemic, and suddenly everyone is in our boat — without access to sets, budgets, jobs, without access even to la gente verde — the “green-light” decision makers who call the shots on TV shows and films, museum exhibitions, cultural projects, freelance pitches. Now we’re all in zoomlandia, that weird Jetson-esque portal where even if you know someone you don’t know them. It’s impossible to read body language when the body is stuck in a thumbnail. 

In spite of what the latest listicle on all things pandemic suggests, there are no silver linings to this crisis. We’re in a tough spot. It’s not going to be over soon. What does this mean for Latino creatives? Paradoxically it means for once, in the area of understanding how to find money for a project where none exists, we might have an edge. Write a grant proposal for that new play/script/album/video? No hay problema. Nada de nuevo.

The pandemic has catalyzed new emergency grant resources for artists and freelancers. We’ve scoured the various foundations, government resources, and corporate giving programs to create this comprehensive list of lists. But before you dive in, here are a few tips for first-time grant applicants:

Familiarize yourself with the funder. I repeat: Familiarize yourself with the funder. Review their website. Look at what and how they support programs. Read the grant guidelines. Read the grant guidelines. Read the grant guidelines. If your project is not a good fit, move on. Don’t waste your time, and theirs, submitting a proposal that’s a long shot. Your job is to find the grant on the path of least resistance.

Once you find a grant program that seems to be aligned with your project (which means if they give you a grant your project is fulfilling their predetermined purpose/strategy for saving the world, and not necessarily your brilliant creative idea for the same) dig a little deeper and review their staff and board roster. Maybe you’ll find someone you know. Maybe not. If you do, reach out to that person and politely ask if you might schedule a 15 minute phone call to determine if your project truly fits their grant program.

Gather your information ahead of time. Grants typically require the following: a description of your project, a list of who is involved, a project budget, the social purpose to be served or alleviated by your project, the underserved communities served by your project, your financials if you are leading a non-profit.

Read on to review our list of grant resources. Good luck and may the wind be at your back!