Greg Mason Burns

How to Write an Artist Grant (from the perspective of a grant reviewer)

How to write an artist grant is a difficult question to answer. Artists are good at making art, not doing administrative funding tasks. Yes, I’m an artist. I’ve written a lot of grants and I’ve only succeeded once. That’s probably not a great score, but that’s more to do with competition than anything else. I’m also a grant reviewer who is lucky enough to have gotten a behind-the-scenes look at what a good grant looks like. I wrote an article for the Maine Arts Journal on my experience as a grant reviewer to help artists navigate this tricky realm.

To give some context, I was a grant reviewer for the Artist Project Grants issued by the Maine Arts Commission in 2023. The Maine Arts Journal issue is Summer 2023: In Balance/Imbalance. I’ve provided some stats below from the Maine Arts Commission that show just how difficult getting a grant is.

Bowdoin College Chapel is an abstract photography image.
Bowdoin College Chapel Photography on Archival Paper (2022) 3000 x 4000 px

Basic Point of How to Write an Artist Grant

While you can read the full article here, the best advice I can give is to be clear and precise. You should still read the full article because I go into more detail over there. But the basic point is that grant reviewers are looking at multiple applications and they don’t want to have to search for your goals. Be clear about your goals, how you plan to achieve them, and precisely how you’re going to use the grant resources. Below is the table of contents of the article, so to speak:

  • There’s a lot of Competition
  • It’s a somewhat Unfair Competition
  • There’s an Algorithm
  • Be Linear
  • Don’t Narrate
  • Make a Personal Connection
  • Be Clear about Objectives
  • Inexperience can be a Good Thing
  • Use Consistent Work Examples
  • Be Specific about Exhibit Options if that’s what is Important
  • How to Answer the Audience Question
  • Several Budget Points
  • Get Someone to Proofread


Writing a grant is actually pretty easy. The problem is the competition. This is an inherent issue with arts grants, and there’s no way around it. The “haves” will always have an advantage over the “haves-not”, but you can close the gap by making your application easy to read, clear, and linear or directional. Read the whole article here and let me know your thoughts on this post. I’d love your feedback and any other suggestions that you’ve had success with.

Maine Arts Commission 2023 Grant Stats

ARTIST PROJECT GRANT- Award Amount: $2,500

Total Applicants 82 | Projects Funded 28 | Percent Funded 34.15%


Total Applicants 79 | Projects Funded 16 | Percent Funded 20.24%

SPRINGBOARD GRANT- Award Amount: $1,500

Total Applicants 47| Projects Funded 16| Percent Funded 34.04%

Here is a link to the grant awardees for 2023.