Tue 14 Jan 2020

Art Grant Decision Making

Nic Howe Public Seen by 91

Dear Nestlings,

We (myself, @Corinne Hitching and @Emma DB) have been getting ready to open Art Grant applications for Nest 2020. As part of the process we have reflected back on last year and previous years to learn what has worked and where improvements can be made. One area which we all felt strongly about was the desire for more transparency around the process, particularly with regards to decision making. 

Below I have listed our criteria for decision making - built around the criteria of previous years of Nest, other Burns and our own discussions. (Much gratitude is owed to the volunteers who compiled the original list and gave their time and energy to the Art Grant process last year and previous years). There is a certain amount of subjectivity in most of the criteria and we are not proposing that an application needs to cover all of them to be successful. We still want to encourage creativity and freedom of thought and expression from the artists applying. To cover subjectivity as much we can we always create a panel of various folk to discuss each application hopefully spreading the subjective effect.

The applications will be scored against these criteria by the members of the art grant committee. If you would like to be involved in that process, please contact us. (An alternative thread is open to discuss "Future alternative grants process options" in the Art & creativity at nest subgroup).

We have also discussed the best way to make the final decisions transparent without creating an unreasonable workload for both the applicants and the committee. Our proposal is to publicise (with the applicants consent) the Title of the Art, the amount offered by the committee and a brief reasoning based on the criteria. We welcome feedback from the community on this, especially from those considering applying.

We would be grateful to hear your collective opinions on the criteria below - is there something you feel we are missing? Something that needs adjustment or something you think should not be in the list at all?

Thanks in advance for your contributions to this discussion.

Decision making criteria:

General Plan: 

  • Has the development of the project been thought out thoroughly and described clearly? 

  • Is there a realistic build plan/timeline or has it been built already? 

  • Is it clear what the project is about and what it offers to Nestlings? 

  • How does the proposed Art fit with the ethos of Nest and is it in tune with all the principles? Detail any principals that the project reflects

  • Does the project require guidance or advice to be actualised?

LNT Plan: 

  • Is there a clear plan for assuring the project and any space it uses will be left with no trace or a better trace? 

  • Has there been consideration for avoiding materials that will likely produce MOOP or become easily unattached in bad weather? 

  • Has there been consideration for using materials that won’t pollute the land or contain toxic elements? 

  • Has consideration been made to source materials second hand or recycled?

Health and Safety: 

  • Is the plan well thought through to avoid safety hazards? 

  • Will all structures be built so that they are safe for participants to interact with, and can withstand any possible weather? Are the materials used non-toxic to the land/participants? Will any outdoor structures be well-lit at night? 


  • Is the proposed budget detailed and realistic? 

  • Are they asking for anything irrelevant or listed in the “things we don’t fund”? 

  • How much of the project uses second hand/reusable items? 

  • Could it still come to Nest in some form even if little/no funding is offered, or is it totally dependent on funding?


  • Does the proposal have a central theme or defining concept? 

  • Is it related to the event theme or any specific Nest principles (extra points for integrating more of the principals) 

  • Does the project create a space to interact with fellow nestlings or is it a piece designed for individualism or personal reflection?


Mands Connolly Tue 14 Jan 2020

Hi Nic, I think this is clear and transparent. I love that we are putting it out to the community for feedback. My only comment on it would be that I think we need to have the reuse/recycle of materials as a higher priority. I would like to see us encouraging reusing of materials, which I'm not sure we do that much. Also I think we have agreed that artists need to fun the transport of their stuff to site, so could we add that in somewhere too please (have they budgetted for it etc). Thanks for your work on this, I think we've had similar processes in the past (although maybe not as detailed) but it wasn't publicised, so think this should clarify things for folks looking to apply.Thanks Mands


Emma DB Tue 14 Jan 2020

Not a surprise that I agree with this!
I just wanted to say that we'll use Loomio for feedback after the event, and look to make further improvements next year, so if you feel strongly about how this should work but we can't do it that way this year, we can talk about possible future implementation. This isn't a set in stone process.


Corinne Hitching Wed 15 Jan 2020

We could potentially use a point system for how much the project uses recycled/upcycled material.

Min my opinion I think transport should be particularly funded. It’s fairly costly and tricky to transport art and I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from doing a project because of transport. What do other people think about this?


Mands Connolly Wed 15 Jan 2020

I don't think most other Burns offer artists transport for their work (there may be exceptions) and I would hope artists would liaise with each other to help share costs etc, Radical self reliance and all that. I'm not sure we have budgetted for art transport but I'm sure we might be able to factor something in for artists on a very low income, to help make it more inclusive. It would be interesting to hear others thoughts on this too. I do like the idea of a points system though Corinne, makes things even more transparent.


Kay Holford Wed 19 Feb 2020

Following on from a FB post by Ben Brebner, is there movement on any approval decisions for the first stage of art grant applications yet?