My Experience with a Colorado Creative Industries Grant
As some of you know, last year I was directed to a career advancement grant offered by Colorado Creative Industries and National Endowment for the Arts. I have an advisor at my local small business development center who is an artist as well and she thought I might be a good candidate for the grant a while back. I finally felt ready to give it a try last fall, so I compiled a bunch of statistics and projected numbers for how I could grow my business from the grant…and to my surprise, I was notified at the end of the year that I was to be awarded one of their grants! Colorado Creative Industries lists their mission as, “To promote, support and expand the creative industries to drive Colorado’s economy, grow jobs and enhance our quality of life.” I hoped that this career advancement grant might help me improve my quality of life by allowing me to make higher sales on those days when I would show my work to the community. Quality of life is so important when managing chronic illness, so it has always been my goal to find better ways to run my business so I can manage to feel healthy, have a stable business income, and energy left over for my personal life.
Anyone trying to start and maintain their own business knows it can be difficult at times. And to my fellow creatives out there dealing with disabilities, you know it may be even more difficult to try and manage a major illness on top of building a business. I wanted to give myself the chance to succeed at fine art festivals and artisan markets, but the expenses can be so much to get started — especially if you need to feel 100% confident that your set-up is weather proof. Given that I have so much framed work to display, I wanted to feel like I wouldn’t need to panic if some wind set in one afternoon while I was showing my work. It is for this reason that I applied for most of my grant to go toward a TrimLine canopy from Flourish Displays. This is well-known to be the most durable art exhibition canopy on the market.
I still have quite a bit of work to do before I “complete” my project for this grant (though it’s never truly completed as I will continue doing events each year, I still have four more events to complete for the year), I would love to boost the signal a bit so other creatives may hear about this grant. The career advancement grant that I was awarded is a matching grant, which means that I applied with a specific budget and once approved and paid for, I will be reimbursed for half of the expenses. This is a wonderful opportunity for people who have been in business a while and are hoping to take their business to the next level, but could use a bit of help! CCI offers other types of grants that have different purposes too, so I recommend looking through what they offer to see if anything might apply to you.
So far, this year has been a whirlwind of new experiences and one of my favorite parts has been connecting with people in my local community when they visit my booth. I spend so much of my time working from a home studio that it can sometimes feel a bit disconnected from those around me. Visiting with locals, getting to know other artists in the community, and being able to share my work while doing all of that has been an invaluable experience. I am very fortunate to have been given this opportunity and I look forward to sharing more with you as the year goes on!
To check on grant opportunities from Colorado Creative Industries, click here! And a big thank you to Creative Industries and National Endowment for the Arts in helping me to grow my business a bit more this year.