The Holy Grail

In September, I was in a situation in which I assessed the bold initiatives in residency applications and simultaneously read about the frustration of grant applicants and their jokes about the matter on social media. I felt like commenting but did not dare for fear of being found out. I did continue to think about it, however.

Some twenty years ago, when I entered the field of art, there were grants, and then there were grants for young people. I was taught that grants were the ladder to gaining merit as a professional artist, to be used to start the climb towards the Holy Grail of that time: multi-annual grants.

I was already too old to be a young person when I went to art school and too indifferent to the barriers between forms of art, so instead of raising a ladder, I ended up in a maze. Several other stubborn artists who had worked for many years in their own style had also found their way there.

I believe that ladder-like structures are a necessary element in upholding and preserving the field. All activities without a history to which you can anchor yourself and your work lack a foundation. However, the arrival of Kone Foundation in the field of grants has enabled the emergence of a whole new way of thinking. Supporting bold initiatives has introduced a new era by removing the barriers both within sectors and between different fields. At the same time, this support has paradoxically transitioned into the new Holy Grail.

I urge frustrated applicants to read the application instructions free from the perspective of your own work. Easy to say, but challenging to put into practice. If a piece of work lacks the boldness to reform its own field, that does not make it bad; there are many other funding opportunities for it. The evaluators receive the same instructions for the assessment as the applicants. The only trick to spotting a bold initiative is to not be an applicant yourself.

It takes real boldness to offer support at the threshold of a maze and to provide opportunity without any promises.