Any makers interested in working in the lab on their own design project can apply for funding to help cover the development costs. The Stimuleringsfonds is one of the most important subsidy providers for designers. We asked design coordinator Annique Deneer for tips on writing a good subsidy application.
MINDING YOUR BUSINESS | Independent designers and artists are also entrepreneurs. The administration this entails is usually less popular but no less important. This series of articles covers practical tips and tricks for managing your business and career planning – so you can get on with creating beautiful things.
“Makers are makers, not writers,” says Tabitha van den Ende, a fundraiser for the TextielMuseum and TextielLab. “I sometimes see projects that have much more potential in practice than on paper. That’s a real shame because a well-written subsidy application can give your creative output a huge boost.” Van den Ende wrote the application that resulted in the TextielLab being included in the Basic Infrastructure (BIS), the Netherlands’ national subsidy system for cultural institutions. Thanks to this financial support, the lab can offer makers even more in the way of research & development and talent development. As a BIS institution, the lab itself can no longer apply for subsidies from public funds. But Van den Ende encourages designers and artists who want to use the lab for an autonomous project to apply. She points to the Stimuleringsfonds (Creative Industries Fund NL) as one of the most important funding organisations, especially for innovative design projects.
Creative Industries Fund NL
So, applying for a subsidy is key, but not before you have developed a solid project plan. The Creative Industries Fund NL can only finance 30-40 per cent of the applications it receives, says Annique Deneer. She is a design coordinator at the fund, which offers various schemes for designers. For example, there are four rounds each year for the Design Scheme (the deadline for round two is 6 April). The Experiment Scheme was added last year for small-scale, experiment-driven projects. You can apply for this scheme any time between 15 February and 30 May. And if you graduated from a design course less than four years ago, then you may be eligible for a grant from the Talent Development Scheme. You can apply for this once a year, so keep a close eye on the deadline.
Choose the right scheme
The Creative Industries Fund NL also has other schemes for which textile projects can qualify, such as Open Calls and temporary programmes. Enter the search term ‘TextielLab’ on stimuleringsfonds.nl/toekenningen for a list of all the projects supported by the fund. For example, 75B received a subsidy from the Temporary International Cooperation Programme last year to make its heraldic tapestries, Suzanne Oude Hengel was supported by the Talent Development Scheme, Envisions’ ‘Archive of the Future’ project was subsidised following an Open Call and Stina Randstad was awarded a grant from the Design Scheme for her work with recycled post-consumer yarns. These are just a few of a long list of makers who received funding for a project they developed with the TextielLab. In any event, it is a good idea to ring the funding organisation to find out which scheme best suits your project. “We’re more than happy to point you in the right direction,” says Deneer. “It’s also important to us that you end up in the right category. And if you subscribe to our newsletter, you’ll automatically be kept informed about all calls and deadlines.”
The Creative Industries Fund NL will let you know within ten weeks of submission whether your application has been successful. Even if it is not, you will often be told why, which is information you can use to write stronger applications in the future. Of course, there are other funds that finance their own projects in the lab. The Mondriaan Fund is an important one for art projects. Van den Ende suggests the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, which has a scheme to help women visual artists produce and promote their work. The Stokroos Foundation also supports artists, designers and cultural initiatives through a donation programme and a talent development programme. In addition, various municipalities and provinces provide project subsidies for cultural activities.
Intake at the lab
The Cultural Financing Guide, which is available (in Dutch) on the knowledge platform Cultuur+Ondernemen, is an invaluable resource for creative makers. You can also ask the TextielLab team for help. “We’re always happy to share our knowledge and network,” says Van den Ende, who occasionally reviews applications written by designers and artists. She also recommends arranging a comprehensive intake at the TextielLab well in advance, so that you know what is realistic in terms of approach, lead time and cost. The lab advises doing this three months before submitting your subsidy application. The last tip from this experienced fundraiser is to take the time to understand what a funding organisation is asking for. “Think of your project as a diamond and show off different facets for different schemes.”
Tips from the Creative Industries Fund NL