MINA is a London-based producer, DJ, and label boss, and has truly leveled up her career through funding, something we feel more creators should know about and take advantage of.  She’s started sharing her knowledge to help others navigate grant applications, project planning, and what it takes to secure funding – whether it’s to pay for new equipment, studio time or mastering your new record. The Earth Kicks founder launched a resource platform “Funding with MINA” where she shares tips and tricks in an effort to make the application process more accessible and affordable, and since launching she’s helped creatives raise over £100,000.

Having submitted applications for Arts Council, British Council, Help Musicians, PRS Foundation, and more, Mina has a wealth of experience applying to UK organizations. 

Here’s her guide to getting started with your funding applications as a creator:  

Top three UK-based foundations: 

PRS foundation

PRS offers entry-level funding for musicians who are just starting out. They also provide funding for organizations, composers, producers, and artists to further their careers. 

Arts Council

Arts Council has two main funding strands, project grants and developing your creative practice. Project grants are for community-based projects. DYCP (develop your creative practice) is for individuals looking to redefine their careers and take it in a new direction.

Help Musicians UK 

Help Musicians UK has several rolling funds that creatives can take advantage of. They have a “Do it Differently”  fund, A MOBO fund, and a Fusion fund. The good thing about these funds is there are no deadlines so you can apply when you are ready. 

There are also plenty of other funding opportunities available online. Mina recommends subscribing to the e-digest “Arts Admin” newsletter and following social media platforms like @ILikeNetworking on Instagram for all the latest opportunities.

Pitching a Project Idea

There are three key steps of pitching a project idea when applying for funding:

  1. Pitch
  2. Timeline 
  3. Budget 

Pitch 

It’s important to check your project’s eligibility before starting your pitch. All funds have criteria that could include:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender 
  • Artform

Make sure you’ve checked this carefully before proceeding. There are usually certain funds that you can’t apply for. Depending on what field of music you’re in, there are specific projects you might want funding for. 

  • If you are a musician you can apply for funding to collaborate with new artists, finish a release, shoot a music video or acquire more marketing or promotional support. 
  • If you are a DJ you might want funding to buy new equipment or software or you can apply for funds to pay for mentoring.
  • If you run events you might want funding to run workshops, skillshare sessions or pay for a promoter. 

Also, most funding organizations will have a word count for your pitch plus specific prompts to clearly define your project. So make sure your values and brand are consistent in both the project description and in your submitted answers. Bullet points are a great way to make sure you answer their queries specifically and clearly.

Once you’ve written out your answers, ask a trusted friend to read them over. Never (ever!) send anything that hasn’t been proofread or edited by another set of eyes. To make sure you get the best feedback, ask:

  • Does it make sense to you? 
  • Are you lost at any point in the description?
  • Did you get bored reading anything? 
  • Which part seems the strongest/weakest to you? 

Make sure you’ve checked this carefully before proceeding. There are usually certain funds that you can’t apply for. 

Project Timeline

The next stage is to work out your timeline. For example, if you know you want to host an event in June, work backward from that point. Generally, funding bodies like to fund longer periods of development so pitch a project that lasts at least six months. Give yourself plenty of time not to ruse and ensure your goals are achievable within that time frame. 

Working out a Budget 

The budget is the most important part of your project. You are expected to carefully research costs so that everything is accounted for. The goal is to pay each participant in the project, including yourself! Generally, there are no set guidelines for day rates but make them around £50-£150 per day. 

Other expenses to factor into your pitch: 

  • Travel
  • Studio rentals
  • Equipment Hire. 

You can also include a 10% contingency budget for unforeseen expenses. But, it’s extremely important to show the funder how you’ve calculated your costs, and that’s written out clearly and accurately. Always proofread and triple-check your budget!

Overcoming Rejection 

Funds are super competitive, even MINA’s been rejected many times! It’s part of the process, and we encourage you to try and get feedback from the funding body that didn’t take you on. See it as a positive opportunity to tweak and improve your application. Remember, it’s okay to apply to multiple funds at once. Don’t give up, and you will get there! 

Check out MINA's channel on Mixcloud