26. 09. 2018
Selecting the Squad
It was an incredible process to see applications for Art Squad roll in. And it was a tough decision to select the final nine. All of the applications were inspiring and interesting and an introduction to a new cohort of creative makers, leaders and doers.
The selection process had two distinct layers. The first layer saw three invited guests – experienced creative practitioners aged 26 and under who already have a relationship with Carclew and Country Arts SA – read through all of the applications and give them a rough ranking of which applications they felt best met the selection criteria. These guest panellists were also asked to provide any additional comments to their ranking to inform the next stage of the process. The second stage of the process was for me as the Creative Producer to cast a number of filters over the applications – checking for eligibility (ie. right age range, regional etc) and considering things like the geographical and artform spread and diversity of backgrounds across the applications. During this stage of the process I also called referees if an application was a bit light on or we needed some further context about an applicant. Taking into account the rough rankings, panel comments and filters I then made the final selection with reference to selection criteria, how the cohort as a whole would function and which applicants my role and skills could bring most value to at this stage of their creative journeys.
Then I got to write two emails, one for the successful applicants and one for the unsuccessful applicants. It’s always demoralising receiving a no and I’ve been on the other end of lots of noes so I just want to remind everyone reading that a no (for anything you apply for) doesn’t mean you weren’t good. A no means this time, from the available pool of applications others were a stronger fit. And that can be for all kinds of reasons. If you get specific feedback about your no, take it on and keep trying, as there may be specific things you can do to strengthen your next application. If you’re not able to get specific feedback, keep trying, there are other opportunities and we all get better with whatever we practice. Some general tips to strengthen any application:
· Carefully read any published selection criteria and make sure your application demonstrates how you are a good fit for the selection criteria. This seems super obvious but you would be surprised how many people talk about lots of awesome things without actually addressing the selection criteria.
· Make 100% sure you are actually eligible for the opportunity. In the case of Art Squad, we had one application from someone based in the Adelaide suburbs, which made their application ineligible. If in doubt call or email the contact person listed for the thing you are applying for.
· Provide good quality support material. This will differ depending on the opportunity and your artform, but it’s things like high resolution photographs, well edited video and well formatted and clear written material. Choose your very best and make sure you follow any instructions on the application form. For example if they say to send 5 photos, send 5, not 10!
· Get someone who knows you/your work well to read over your application. They will almost definitely notice things you haven’t included or suggest better ways to communicate your awesomeness.
· If the application asks for support letters or a referee – include one! For the Art Squad application process we asked people to include contact details for a referee and not everyone did. Where an application seems promising but is a bit light on detail, your referee can make all the difference.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some top tips that can make a big difference. If you are planning on applying for Carclew Project and Development Funding next year I also just want to let you all know that you can book a one-on-one consult with our fabulous Funding Officer Rebecca Meston. This is a great way to learn some tips and tricks and strengthen your application. It’s worth noting too that for funding in particular it’s not unusual for first time applications to be unsuccessful and need to apply more than once before they get that coveted yes. Writing applications is a skill and it does get better with practice. Don’t give up!
Now that we’ve selected our Art Squad and let unsuccessful applicants know, we are in the process of collecting a few things from the Squad (photos, links, biographies) and preparing a media release to officially announce them to the world. Stay tuned on the Carclew and Country Art SA social media and websites for the official announcement.