Earlier this month, IdeasTap towers played host to the first round of Sky Arts Ignition: Future Fund judging. Our fantastic panel of arts professionals was hugely impressed with the standard of work. But what about those of you who didn’t make it to the shortlist? If you’re thinking of applying for the second round, here are the judges’ top application tips…
“Don’t go cross-art form just for the sake of it,” said theatre director and Artistic Director of Headlong Theatre Company, Rupert Goold. “Don’t be afraid of being single and specific, if that is your vision. Also, think hard about narrative. You have to be clear about what the story is.”
“Make the most out of your portfolios,” emphasised Senior Arts Executive for Sky, Freya Murray. “What you have in your portfolio can make all the difference to whether you make it to the shortlist.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Arts Commissioning Editor for The Times, Nancy Durrant: “Make sure you include examples of your work in your portfolio,” she suggested. “If you’re singing, I want to be able to hear it. If you’re an animator, I want to see it.”
“Be very simple and clear about the reason you want to do that project,” advised judge and IdeasTap member Sabrina Mahfouz. “Include that reasoning very early on.”
Rupert Goold also suggests that applicants think about where they are positioning their project in the wider world: “Think about how your piece of work and project will sit in the current cultural scene,” said Rupert. “Think about your marketplace.”
“You need to ask yourself why you’re doing that project,” said Nancy Durrant, on the boardroom pitch itself. “Get someone to look at your application and ask you questions about it. We’re only going to ask you the sort of questions they would ask.”
Judge and BBC broadcaster Jo Whiley also emphasised the importance of your presentation: “Be clear, concise and engage everybody in the room.”
Before you get to the presentation stage of the Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund brief, there is a whole team of sifters who have the titanic task of reading through every single application.
Here are their tips for getting on that shortlist:
“You needed to state how the project would take your career to the next level,” says IdeasTap Strategic Partnerships Director Amanda White. “Make sure you have good supporting work in your portfolio to show evidence of your talent and ability. You also need to show you could deliver the project with a confident budget and realistic timescales.
“The projects need to be breaking new ground,” she adds. “There is no point being new for the sake of it, but we are looking for innovation, as long as you have a genuine rationale and reason behind that innovation.”
“A number of submissions had no supporting portfolio and this immediately eliminated them from the running, no matter how strong their ideas were,” said the producer of Shoreditch Trust and visiting lecturer at City University London, Justin O’Shaughnessy.
“The statement was the most important element,” continues Justin. “It is worth taking much more time on the statement to hone it down to offer both a glimpse of how this would allow development and what the new project will look like – difficult, I know, in 100 words!”
“Don't just rely on your personal website,” advises arts consultant Rachael Stevens. “The first place we'll look is the IdeasTap portfolio to get a sense of your qualities as an artist. The more work we can check out, the better.”
“When you've written your 100 word condensed pitch, re-read it and write it again. Then ask a friend to read it, and edit it again. With thousands of entries, the 100-word pitch has to leap off the page. It will only do that if it's clear, punchy and demonstrates your idea with panache.”