What About Grants?
14. března 2024·Lucie Závadová

What About Grants?

Meeting Point | ENG

The whole world revolves around money, whether we like it or not. So how does our festival raise money? This topic may seem uninteresting to some, but it is worth paying attention to because a lot of work and effort goes into it. Without financial support, we would not be able to hold a festival on such a scale. Therefore, in an interview with Gabriela Balská and Honza Horský, we will take a look at this issue through their eyes. Gabča is a third-year theatre production student and for this year she is the Treasurer of the festival. Honza is a project manager at the Theatre Faculty of JAMU.

How does the festival receive financial support? And why might our readers be interested?

Because we operate in the cultural sphere, we are dependent on so-called multi-source funding. In the Czech Republic, there is simply no single patron with sufficient funds for such a large festival. Therefore, we regularly apply for funding (and we have a relatively high success rate) within the framework of grant or subsidy schemes or programmes of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, the State Culture Fund, the International Visegrad Fund (IVF), but also from local sources such as the South Moravian Region, the Statutory City of Brno (SMB), and the Municipal District of Brno-Centre (MČBS).

And you should be interested in this because if you are reading this, you probably have at least one foot in the cultural sphere. You cannot ignore multi-source funding, and it is therefore advisable to get acquainted with its specifics sooner rather than later. (Jan Horský)

How does such multi-source funding work?

Think of it simply as a few buckets from which you can take funding. Well, the real fun starts with the fact that each of those buckets has its own very specific rules governing what you can use its funds for. For example, most buckets don't allow you to pay for representation expenses. So, one has to think about saving money for the banquet, for example, from ticket sales. In addition to these "sharp" rules that are set by contract, then there are the unwritten ones that are sort of dictated by common sense. By this I mean, for example, that you simply use funds from Brno (SMB) and Brno-Centre (MČBS) to pay for the bands' fees and the rental of clubs, all of which are located within those districts, because such concerts are then accessible to their residents. And the Hungarian juror, on the other hand, should rather be paid from the basket of the International Visegrad Fund, which is developing and supporting cooperation in our region. You are simply trying to be a good steward who distributes these resources in such a way that they benefit the area that the institution is developing as much as possible - whether it is culture, education, international cooperation or, on the contrary, regional development. When it all fits together like that, it makes you happy to write it in the final reports... (Jan Horský)

What is interesting about the International Visegrad Fund (IVF)?

We like it a lot. One of the main goals of the festival is to give students an international experience. It's just that it's not in our power as a school to let every student go on an international trip, even if they're all interested. That's why it's important for us that, once a year, we simply bring that international experience to the students in Brno. And in this international dimension of our festival, we are helped a lot by the IVF, which supports projects leading to greater interdependence and cooperation between the countries of the Visegrad Four. (Jan Horský)

What are the differences between the applications?

Each subsidy or grant scheme has its own specific characteristics. So actually, the application never looks the same for two different institutions. It's just a matter of what their mission is. (Jan Horský)

At the same time, every application submitted to the same institution over the years is also particular. Since the core organizational team is always made up of 3rd year production and stage technology students, the basis is the same, but each year contributes something new and different. So, for grant applications you can never use exactly the same text but you rather adapt it to the year and the external environment of the festival. (Gabriela Balská)

For example, to the MKČR you highlight different benefits of the festival than in the application to the IVF. This means that for the MKČR you will highlight how you contribute to the preservation and development of cultural heritage, support the local cultural sphere, etc. Whereas for the IVF you will rather highlight festival activities that develop international cooperation (e.g. the Hungarian juror, debate on the socio-political situation in the V4 countries and its impact on performing arts universities). Don't get me wrong, we do all these things within the festival, and they are important to all of us. It's more about what characteristic you will accentuate for which patron - which side of the festival you show each patron. (Jan Horský)

Or, for example, for Brno-Centre, the Statutory City of Brno, and the South Moravian Region, it is also important that SETKÁNÍ/ENCOUNTER is the only festival of its kind that would be organised by a performing arts college. And some parts of the programme are open to the general public free of charge, for which we get plus points in the application assessment, because we are trying to open the festival to the public as well. (Gabriela Balská)

Do we, as a festival, apply for the same grants every year or is it possible to apply for new ones?

I initially did some research on what grants we can apply for and came to the conclusion that we cannot apply for any other grants (other than the ones we already apply for). I also looked to see if I could come across any brand-new grants that we could apply for, and although I really did my research, I didn't come across any within the Czech Republic or Europe. (Gabriela Balská)

How do students get involved in this area?

I would say that I am the one, as treasurer, who takes care of most of this. Also, the festival coordinator, who can check my work. Or I can inform her how we are doing with the applications and the settlement of grants.  Primarily, I work with Honza on this. (Gabriela Balská)

What is offered to grant providers? Is there any specific compensation?

It could be, for example, low-threshold access to cultural events for people affected by social disadvantage, which is a value that, for example, the Ministry of Culture is very much promoting, and also an area where we score a lot. Because, for example, our ticket prices are more accessible to economically disadvantaged groups of people compared to other festivals or brick-and-mortar theatres. And, of course, we must not forget the off-programme, a large part of which is free.

But then we also have more common requirements, such as those for publishing logos. We have to work with a logo manual that we receive from each individual institution. This regulates, for example, the size of the logo, how far it can be placed from other logos, etc. (Jan Horský)

I would also add that we need to keep an eye on this, because after the festival we send a bill to the grantors. In it, we have to prove that the project has really taken place and that the things we promised in the application have really been fulfilled. Alternatively, we have to justify why the festival was held with changes. (Gabriela Balská)

Many people may find the role of an economist uninteresting or might not even imagine what the job entails. How do you perceive this position?

I don't find the position of an economist uninteresting. Rather, I think some students might be scared of holding the position. Just from the point of view that it's a job where you actually work more or less alone. Now I don't mean in relation to teaching supervision, but as a student. Furthermore, it takes up quite a lot of time, and you have to deal with everything. Finances are tied to all the sections and outputs, and as an economist you have to know the festival in detail. At the same time, you also have to listen to others, know what is going on in each section – in short, have a good overview. You also have to approach the work of an economist quite responsibly, because, for example, if we don't get a grant application approved, it's "your" fault, even if it's not really, because you won't know why the application wasn’t accepted. And it is possible that even if the application is well written, the institutions simply do not want to support your project, for whatever reason.

I also think that the job may not be that attractive because people don't really have a good idea of what it is. Even if I give a presentation on this topic for other students and describe my work, it's still hard to imagine. It's only when the person actually does it that they understand exactly what the job entails. And even the economist himself or herself learns some things along the way throughout the year. That's why I really feel it's important to pass on all the information and experience gained by the year before you.

At the same time, the economist is one of the most knowledgeable people at the festival. Since I hold regular meetings with the coordinator and the supervisor, I am actually right at the source of the information, and that is what I enjoy about it and motivates me to continue working at the festival. Also, the more information I have, the easier the job is for me. (Gabriela Balská)

To sum it up for myself, I personally see the role of an economist as one of the most prestigious positions within the festival and one of the best ways to gain professional experience while studying at JAMU. This also means that it's a totally awesome resume item - after all, grant writing and economic management of a large event like our festival are skills that are very easily transferable to other fields and contexts. And for me personally, as a project manager, this position within the festival is absolutely the most important. I will admit without torture that I could hardly do my job without Gabči. 😊 (Jan Horský)

Gabriela Balská (Photo: Daniel Burda)
Gabriela Balská (Photo: Daniel Burda)
Jan Horský (Photo: Daniel Burda)
Jan Horský (Photo: Daniel Burda)
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