Get it? My Grant Experience! Like, "My Grand Experience!" I know, stupid joke...anyway...let's talk about my grant shall we? United Arts of Central Florida was founded in 1989 and they envision "a diverse, well-attended, fiscally sound arts and cultural community that serves residents and visitors to the Central Florida region." Since inception they have invested over $117 million in cultural organizations and cultural education. To tell you the truth, I had heard about UA before but never really knew what they did. One way in which they invest in the community is through their grant program. I heard about this program through a friend and, knowing I needed a new camera and also needed to kick my butt into gear and start a new documentary project, I decided to apply for one. The goal of the grant I was applying for was "to advance artistic excellence and management expertise." Thus, I could not just buy a new camera with the grant money. I had to do a project with the camera I was buying (which I was happy to do).
A friend of mine (named Tony) has been very involved in the Paramore/Holden Heights neighborhood for a while. Paramore/Holden is a very impoverished neighborhood in Orlando, FL. Think "other side of the tracks" kind of neighborhood (both literally and metaphorically). Having told me about it and its history I decided I wanted to do a long term project on this neighborhood. I really enjoy going to unknown places and making environmental portraits so I knew this is what I wanted to focus on. When I applied for and was rewarded the grant I didn't really have a concrete idea on how I was going to do to this (though I knew it would be possible, albeit difficult).
Thankfully, another friend of mine (named Phil) has an organization named POLIS that seeks to "improve the well-being of the city" by engaging the talents of the poor. Coincidentally enough, he is working in the Paramore/Holden area. Once we were able to collaborate we came up with a more solid idea on how I could accomplish my grant within the parameters that I had originally specified (remember, when I applied for the grant I had an idea of how I could accomplish it and who I would work with, but no means by which to do it yet. Ideally I would have had everything ironed out beforehand. With documentary projects details can be hard to nail down sometimes).
Here is our idea. Within the Paramore/Holden neighborhood is a trailer park called The Palms. Phil has set up the "headquarters" of POLIS in a trailer within the park. Because of the organization’s location and involvement in the neighborhood they have made many inroads with the people. Having connections with someone who is trusted in the community is vital with this sort of project. Our idea was to solely focus on The Palms neighborhood, making environmental portraits of the residents within it.
In my next post I'll be talking about the grant writing process, seen here.