The Snow Lake Initiative is a new grant program available to Canadians to develop their art, whether it be music, dance, sculpture, writing, or what have you.
The Initiative was founded by entrepreneur, singer, songwriter J’aime Payne who has many years of experience in the grant writing process, both for her own art and from her stint working with the Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association. She knows exactly what challenges creatives are facing when they apply for grants and she is using her experience to create a new program that will hopefully eliminate some of those challenges when applying for other programs.
The Snow Lake Initiative believes in simple application processes. You don’t need to hire a grant writer or have a BA in Poetry or Practical Reasoning to apply for our grants. We believe that Micro-Grants are important and sorely lacking in today’s arts industry so we plan on occupying that space and filling that need for our members. Our initiative is open to Canadian artists of all disciplines and membership is free.J’aime Payne ~ The Snow Lake Initiative
The Snow Lake Initiative currently offers two micro-grant programs, one of which is lottery-based and is opened right now until midnight on December 1st. You can apply for it here. It takes all of 30 seconds to apply. The second is a submission-based grant for pre-planned public performances. Members submit their upcoming shows in advance and could be selected and paired with one of our partners for a small infusion of cash (submissions open on December 1st for January 2019 performances).
In the new year, the Snow Lake Initiative is expecting to launch their mentorship program, which pairs an established artist with one of their members for three months of one-on-one mentorship. Members can apply by sending a one or two page PDF pitch that is addresses directly to the mentor. It is the mentor who selects who they wish to work with.
Lastly, there is the bartering-style grant-writing program, which speaks to the frequent need of having to hire an experienced grant writer to apply for much of the arts grants in Canada. This is a limited-time program, which must be of benefit to both the Initiative and the member.
I have a deeper conversation with J’aime about why she decided to start the Initiative, what she brings to the table, and her long term goals.
SZ :: Can you tell me what you bring to the table of the Snow Lake Initiative? How has your work experience prepared you for this project?
JP :: I offer a unique perspective to The Snow Lake Initiative. As an artist myself, who has spent copious amounts of time, energy and money on creating art, I have an intimate understanding of the landscape for creative independent artists. Although my experience is admittedly mainly in the music industry, I understand that most artists dabble in multiple disciplines, which is why we are open to all artists in Canada.
Also, my past work at The Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association (CIRAA), as Director of Member Services (until the association dissolved in 2016), was some of the most rewarding work I have done in the industry. My time there was spent straddling the line between program development and artist/member communication. My experience in business management paired with my diploma in accounting has gifted me with the tools to proceed with a vision for longevity and sustainability. The Snow Lake Initiative is in it for the long haul. As a start-up, our offerings right now may seem small, but we will grow with our membership and partnerships and become one of Canada’s leading Micro-Grant providers for artists.
SZ :: What challenges have you faced during the grant writing process? How does Snow Lake address these challenges for its applicants?
JP :: Grant writing was once described to me as an “art.” It is extremely time-consuming and requires artists to speak to all kinds of metric measurements, career objectives and team overviews. Often they will require letters of support, refined budgets and detailed work plans to even be considered.
Are these important? Yes, of course. It is important for artists to understand the intricacies of their business. We do fundamentally agree with that and our grant-writing bartering program (help-me-find-funding) speaks to that belief by offering to help find and write a grant for our members, as opportunities arise.
Some grant applications out there are so onerous, that applicants will spend months preparing for it, only to give up at the very end when the portal tells them that their PDF is too big, or the word count is maxed out. It can be a frustrating and discouraging process. The Snow Lake Initiative values artists’ time and wants our members to focus on creating their own art, not the “art” of grant writing.
We remove obstacles in both the application portion of grant writing, as well as the “spending requirement” portion of the application. Recipients can spend the money they receive as they see fit. There are no restrictions on what you could use it for. Do you need gas to get to your gig? Go for it. Do you need to buy your mom some flowers for constantly supporting your art shows and inviting all of her work colleagues? You can do that too, and we think that’s nice.
We do ask what our members would spend the money on, but only because we’re curious and want to design future programs based on the needs of our members.
SZ :: What are your loftiest long term goals for the Snow Lake Initiative? Do you have any dream partnerships or collaborations?
JP :: We want to have the most inclusive Micro-Grant Program in Canada and increase our Micro-Grant offerings drastically over the next five years. The goal is to offer direct tangible support to our members, to as many members as possible on a consistent basis, so we can be that “encouraging friend” to an artist during the development of their career.
We do have a lot of dream partnerships, but currently, our head is not in the clouds. We’re busy on the ground advocating for our members. Right now, we’re seeking like-minded businesses and individuals who see the value in supporting the arts in Canada and see the importance of lighthearted offerings in an industry that is inundated with obstacles and pressures. If that sounds like you or your business, then we would love to hear from you.
SZ :: When does the Snow Lake Initiative award its first grant? What criteria does an applicant have to meet to achieve funding?
JP :: We award our first Micro-Grant on December 2nd, 2018. Applications are open now to all our members, through our website, until the December 1st deadline. If you’re a creative artist in Canada, then you can be a member.
SZ :: What advice can you offer an artist or performer who is looking for funding?
JP :: Keep fighting the good fight! And, if you can’t find that MAJOR funding, use that creativity inside you to find an alternative route to your goals. There is always a path forward.
SZ :: Do you have any final thoughts for someone who is just getting into the arts or performance?
JP :: Be kind to yourself. Creating art is personal, and deciding to share it with the public can feel even more invasive. The world is full of critics – try to first manage the one that is inside your own head. Keep on creating!
So, if you know of a struggling artist in Canada who may be looking for a bit of a financial boost to develop their art, please, share this article and spread the word.
There is still time to apply for the inaugural micro-grant program, so what are you waiting for!!?