Yip Harburg Foundation Support for the show!

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Tales of generosity, and grant application gore…..

In the “great grant race of 2014-2015” where I scramble to get support, the Yip Harburg Foundation is the first one to support the show. Thank you Yip Harburg and your enduring legacy! I hope you are proud of the show you have supported when you see it at NYMF in July 2015. If I am half the lyricist he was, I will be doing just fine! I hope the story is the perfect blend of humor and social justice that opens hearts.

It’s an honor to receive support from the legacy of the lyricist who wrote “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”, and many other amazing songs. There was always an element of social justice in his songs. You can learn more about Yip Harburg and his work at the foundation website: http://yipharburg.com/.

Here are the gory grant stats so far: I’ve applied to 23 places. I’ve received 3 rejections, 1 yes, 2 letters have been returned to sender, and I have about $85,000 in outstanding requests for funding, for a production with a budget of about $67,000. Remember that not everyone is going to say yes, so I have to ask a lot of grant makers. I have 15 more applications/Letters of Inquiry (LOI in grant-speak) to go. To get my list I had to spend 3 afternoons at the fabulous Foundation Center Library at 79 Fifth Ave (near 16th street). I have about a 2 1/2 hour threshold before I start seeing double, and have to put aside the incredible search engine and catalog of grant givers the library has. So the list took me about 7 1/2 hours to compile. In addition, I have the blessing of NYMF’s Development Director who has helped me craft a proposal to send out, plus she’s helped me prioritize my list by “most-likely-to-love-and-support-Manuel vs. Statue“. That way, if I can’t get to all of them, then I at least get to the most important ones first. NYMF is my 501 (c) 3 fiscal sponsor and they are going above and beyond to help me find money for this wonderful project.

More tales of personal generosity: my coach Andrew Frank has also shared his considerable grant writing experience with me and helped me craft the LOI that I am sending out. I have another friend who is having a birthday party and in lieu of presents she is asking for donations to be made to the show. Two friends have stepped up to have fundraising parties for the show. Another friend is willing to do an “all or nothing match” of $1,500 for the fundraisers – it’s kind of like a real time, in person Kickstarter. Other friends are planning a benefit concert for the show. So things are getting into high gear here after the holidays. I’m glad because they kind of have to get into high gear: I have about $9,000 raised or committed, and I have to get to $67,000. Miles to go….

If you want to be part of the “tales of generosity”, please donate using the link, and remember to use the “Earmark Your Donation” pull down menu and select Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty as the show. Here’s the link: https://www.formstack.com/forms/?1699469-BPiZfVWAxx.

This is what it looks like:


If you have any questions about the “tales of grant application gore”, let me know – happy to pass along what little I know to others.



Looking for grants to support the musical – a strategy

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Interior of the Foundation Center Library, New York City

I am looking for grants like a “crazy woman” – searching high and low for any foundation that will support the musical. So I may look “crazy” but I have a strategy:

– go to the Foundation Center with my own laptop and flashdrive

– look up as many foundations as I can (if you bring your own laptop you can stay as long as you want, if you use one of their terminals you have a time limit of 1.5 hours)

– get the guidance of the brilliant librarians that help with search terms

– go home and contact each foundation in the way they request

– follow foundation instructions in their applications, and ask as many of them as possible for money

So I found over 20 foundations in my last trip to the Foundation Center. I am now plowing through them and making a list of what to do with each one. Then I’ll contact all of them one way or another. Then I’ll put out letters or applications based on my findings. Then I’ll start over, and go to the Foundation Center again, and get more help from brilliant librarians and do more searching, and “lather, rinse, repeat.”

How do you do research for grants?

Three new letters of inquiry (LOIs)

It is so easy to postpone the daunting task of creating more letters of inquiry (LOIs) for potential foundation donations. Even this blog post is sort of stalling. But in my defense I have sent out three new ones this week so far. That brings the total amount of requests up to $10,700 so far. I’m hoping to raise about $7,000 in grants for Manuel versus the Statue of Liberty. So I know that I probably have to have many more requests in, probably about $70,000 or more because of the low odds of getting a grant. Thanks to my playwriting cohorts at DQT, my LOIs are better. My fellow playwrights listened to me read the drafts out loud, and made comments, asked questions, and found that what I answered was much more interesting than my drafts. So I incorporated feedback. It’s very important to have other people preview your LOIs.

Typically, individual donations count for a huge amount of any artistic budget. You can look at statistics from places as large as Lincoln Center, or as small as DQT and my show, and it is pretty consistent. So thank you to all the individuals who have donated! I’m at the beginning of a new chapter, and you are helping me navigate it successfully!


Matching donor tally up to $658! Reflecting on Self Promotion

Splitting yourself isn’t always this easy. Someone is going to get dunked in about 5 seconds.

The race to raise the next $1,000 to be able to claim all of my anonymous donor’s $1,000 matching gift is heating up. A generous friend just catapulted the total ┬áto $658. I’m so excited to get to $1,000 because then I will get double that – thanks to another super generous friend. If anyone is also feeling generous, you can donate at www.thedqt.org/donate/fountain-of-youth.

And I sent out three letters of inquiry to different grant giving organizations, at $2,000 each. That was difficult. I always think that I write about important things -so of course I should get grants. And then when it comes to actually writing up the application or letter of inquiry I chicken out because I get filled with self-doubt. So the new rule is: the self-doubt doesn’t get a vote in the process. I split myself in two: the artist, and the PR person. The PR person writes the grant applications, and the artist writes the musical. The PR person is closer to P.T. Barnum, and shamelessly promotes herself (within reason). The artist is like Woody Allen, and retreats into privacy to create really funny, insightful work. And these two halves may inform each other, but they are not “the boss of each other”.

The things you have to do to be a playwright-producer.


Letters of Intent and other Grant applications

Why is it so hard to send out Letters of Intent (LOI) and grant applications? Why do I check the directions a hundred times, and review the letter 80 times before I send it out? Why does it take 2 hours, when I think it should only take 15 minutes?


That’s the short answer. I am afraid of being ruled out for one little mistake. I’m afraid the recipient will flinch because the musical has some political content. I’m afraid my wording is confusing. Afraid I am too detailed, not detailed enough, boring, too inflamatory…you name it. I’m even afraid of using a comma incorrectly. Oy.

So I printed out the two letters of intent I am working on (one grantor doesn’t even give me instructions which is super-fear producing), and I read parts aloud at the last DQT meeting. My fellow playwrights listened to my spiel about the NYMF Developmental Reading Series, and the description of my show, and why this was an important step for me. Then we dove in and read what I actually wrote – which needless to say was somewhat scattered, and vague. So then they told me how I should write what I said before, because it was better, and clearer. They also helped me figure out what parts to cut out entirely.

The lesson learned – read this sort of stuff to other people who “get” what you are aiming for, but don’t know your project perfectly. Pick people who like you and are generous of heart – not bitter negative people who hate everything. Get their feedback. See what parts of your project generate smiles, eye twinkles, laughter. Put that in the LOIs and grant applications.

Ok – enough procrastinating for me. Time to do another LOI that will hopefully entice the foundation to ask for a full application.

What is your experience in applying for grants like?Main Entrance