95 artists apply for COVID-19 Arts Fund in ‘overwhelming’ response

  • 11 awarded projects involve a wide-reaching collaboration between artists, practitioners, service providers and audiences
  • Particularly ‘meticulous’ evaluation process led by sector experts
  • Unsuccessful applicants being directed to other funding opportunities

A total of €75,000 has been awarded to 11 applicants as part of a special COVID-19 Arts Council Malta funding scheme that was launched specifically to address the financial impact the pandemic is having on creative and cultural practitioners, groups and organisations.

Mary Ann Cauchi, Director Funding and Strategy at Arts Council Malta

“The special call attracted an overwhelming response unlike anything that the ACM has experienced before, with many artists and practitioners leaping at the opportunity to see the creation and materialisation of their ideas through this funding. We received a total of 95 submissions, five of which withdrew and 15 found to be ineligible,” Mary Ann Cauchi, Director Funding and Strategy at Arts Council Malta said.

“ACM is extremely encouraged to see the creative and cultural sectors reacting in such a positive manner to the circumstances we are all facing. The response has shown that we are fortunate to have a very proactive sector. Of course, the high number of proposed projects also meant that there are applicants who will be disappointed. However, ACM is making it a point to address this issue by further guiding applicants whose projects have not been awarded to apply for other sources of funding,” Cauchi explained.

All applicants have been offered detailed feedback with their result notification letter. Those whose projects were not awarded have also being given guidance so as to help them improve the original pitch and possibly resubmit the proposal under one of the other funding calls available.

“The ACM is committed to assisting these applicants, providing them with guidance regarding which funding programme best fits their project. In order to further support artists and practitioners, we have set up a COVID-19 section on our website, where they may find more announcements, tools, resources, training, blogs, links and relevant information. We also advise them to follow our social media platforms which are being constantly updated,” Cauchi said.

The evaluation process for this special call, she added, was extremely thorough and pain-staking.

“Evaluations are always carried out meticulously but, on this occasion, it is worth pointing out that the process was extraordinarily laborious, not only due to the quantity and tight timeframes but also due to the competitive quality of the projects.

Unlike the process with regular funding, evaluators were all internal members of staff within the ACM Funding and Strategy Team, each of which having wide expertise in the sector, long-standing evaluation experience and a high level of responsibility and sensitivity towards the individual applicants.

“This was a competitive call, with only a certain number of projects successfully getting funded. Considering the number of valid projects submitted and the limitation of funds, this knowledge placed a heavy burden on evaluators, a burden about which they were mindful throughout the entire process.”

Cauchi added that the evaluation process included thorough research, which lead to scrupulous analysis and a comprehensive discussion between the evaluators vis-a-vis each of the proposed projects. The published guidelines and regulations informed every stage of the “healthy debate”, with the awarded projects scoring highest on each of the criteria laid down.

“Standard considerations included project management, timeframes, track records, audience reach, audience development and budgeting.  The latter can make or break the successful implementation of a project. For this Special Call, a number of extra considerations were published, including the applicants’ response to the measures and restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 situation,” Cauchi said.

The 11 successful projects involve several artists, collaborators, participants, audiences and service providers, which means that the investment will be achieving an even wider reach of people. Awarded projects encompass one or more areas from artistic development and production, community-based; support to the cultural and creative sector; training and education development; international exchange and collaborations and artistic research. A full list of awarded projects is available on the ACM website.

Awarded projects have all been notified. In a departure from the normal funding process, the disbursement process will take place with more immediacy, with beneficiaries receiving their funding in next few days.

“This could only happen thanks to a hard-working and dedicated team within the various units at ACM, namely, funding and strategy, finance and the administration. Beneficiaries will receive 70 percent of their funding in a matter of days, which will enable projects to take off here and now,” Cauchi concludes.

Meantime, those who didn’t make it are highly encouraged to follow the advice being forwarded in their notification letter and to re-apply under the standard funding strands, while keeping an eye out for ACMlab web events that can help guide and inform their pitching process, such as last Tuesday’s ‘Pitch Perfect’.

For guidance, you may send an e-mail to fundinfo@artscouncilmalta.org.

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