Advice for Artists on Preparing a proposal
There are practical issues to consider when preparing a proposal such as setting aside time, doing research, and compiling written and support material - visual, audio, text. The preparation also involves budgeting, sourcing price quotes and estimating costs. There may be technical elements to the proposal and more complex aspects that require specialist input. It is also important to be aware of personal insurances required, and various health and safety issues that will come into play if you are successful. It's about carefully considering the objectives for the commission and deciding how you can creatively approach these in-line with your artistic practice.
Developing a proposal
To develop a strong proposal you might give time to think through ideas and to write and assemble material. What interests you about the commission and how can your practice intersect with the brief? How might you input or creatively explore around the brief, or commissioners ambitions. Can you commit to this commission - even if it is impossible to know all the challenges that lie ahead or the way that things might actually pan out.
What are the challenging aspects of your ideas? Is it in relation to the materials or medium you will be using, or is it to do with the organisation and interaction with a community or group of people, or is it in relation to any ethical issues? To help prepare it may be worth visit the place or site, or spending time in the place, 'tuning in' before developing and confirming proposals? Think through what interests you about this commission and what creative triggers you might use to develop ideas? Consider the commissioners, what is their ethos? Do they have artistic support for managing the commission?
Questions about how to manage the budget and whether the budget is sufficient for your ambitions are also worth keeping in mind. Often budgets are fixed and non-negotiable. It is useful to find out what on-the-ground supports are available and the track record of the commissioners.
Research and development
Sometimes an idea strikes quickly, other times ideas come through a process of consideration and reflection. Increasingly it is possible to build a period of research and development into the commission before confirming an approach. Is it possible to give an indication of intent, a sketch of ideas and to develop a final proposal out of these initial responses?
Consider what projects or works by other artists inspire your approach and practice - how might you draw on these? Are certain aspects of the commission of interest while other elements seem daunting and off-putting? Might there be scope for negotiation or for collaboration? Can you bring in another artist, a specific group of people, or employ a mentor or mediator who could bring in other expertise?
Support material includes all documentation that will enable the assessment team to understand the artistic vision. It includes examples of current work put in context by choosing selected examples of previous work relevant to your current practice or trajectory and, which also articulates the ideas in your proposal and is fundamental to understanding your vision and your practice.
Greystones Educate Together National School appointed a voluntary committee with relevant expertise to oversee the per cent for art commissioning process. An external curator, Máire Davey, was appointed specifically for her expertise in working in a highly collaborative way as meaningful involvement from the students and school was viewed as central to the process. The procurement route chosen was limited invited competition.