What happens after you apply
Now that you have submitted your grant proposal, a number of carefully coordinated activities take place. These actions are governed both by the Council’s policies, which are set by the Board of Directors and by procedures that are set by the Executive Director. In conjunction, these policies and procedures work to make the process as fair and transparent as possible.
Before the deadline
During the period before the deadline, the Executive Director removes himself from as many of the pre-application conversations as possible. Of course, the Council has a small staff, and some participation is inevitable; however, by and large, only the Program Officer will know the true composition of any particular grant round. An exception to this situation will occur when a Board Director intends to apply, which is permitted under Council policies as long as a strict set of policies are followed. Failure to follow the policy will be penalized. In this situation, the Director must inform the Executive Director of his intention to apply. From that point on, the Director must refrain from any Board discussion regarding policies that relate to the programs, or the funding for those programs, until the entire grant cycle is complete. For a discussion on why and how Directors may apply, please see the notes at the end of this paper.
After the deadline
The Program Officer enters each application into the Council’s database. If a record of you as a person already exists, your application data will be added to that file. If not, a new entry will be created for you, and your grant details will be added to it. If you have applied in French, which the Council encourages if it is your mother tongue, your application is sent to the provincial translators to ensure that all jurors will be able to read and understand your application.
This database, which contains data dating back to 1995, allows the Program Officer to determine if you are under the maximum grants funds received the cap and to see what other grants you have applied for and received in previous years.
The Jury selection
Once all application details are entered into the database, the Program Officer prepares a report for the Executive Director. This report contains only the discipline and the number of applications in that discipline. The Council considers there to be eight disciplines, and a jury is typically comprised of six members. It is infrequent that there is participation from all eight disciplines in any given round. There is a specific reason for this type of report to the Executive Director. It is a procedure that the Council has put into place to avoid any possible, even subconscious, jury construction that would favour a particular applicant over another.
Based on this report, the Executive Director reviews the pool of jurors. In creating a jury for a particular round, the Executive Director tries to match experience to the number of applications from a discipline, as well as balance the jury in terms of gender and age. The Council runs multi-disciplinary juries drawn from PEI artists. This process is used, largely, to keep costs low, for the total funds available for grants is relatively low. In larger jurisdictions, the cost for multiple, discipline-specific juries is fractional compared to the amounts awarded; however, for The PEICA to run even two juries per round would represent a disproportionate expense, compared to the amounts awarded.
For some additional notes on the jury pool, please see the notes at the end of this paper.
Applications go to the Jurors
At this time, the Program Officer prepares binders for each juror that contain a copy of each application form and supplementary materials received, including letters of support/reference and portfolio items.
Once the Executive Director has determined a suitable mix of people from the pool of jurors, he provides that list to the Program Officer, who will then poll those individuals to find a suitable date when they can all be available for an entire day. This date will be at least one week after all of the jurors can pick up their files.
The jurors come to the Council’s office to collect their binders. At that time, they are also given the conflict of interest and confidentiality guidelines, which must be adhered to at all times. Additionally, they are each provided with “ballots” that match the order of the applications in the binders, in which they may write notes to themselves or assign a score pending discussions on the day.
They are asked to review the materials on their time, and they are paid an honorarium for both their time in preparation and their day of adjudication. During this time, they review each application and support material, and listen to or watch, the media provided. If you have not provided extra copies, the committee members will review it on the day of the jury; however, it is to your advantage to provide the extra copies in advance.
During the review period, jurors can, and do, contact the office with questions about the grants they are reviewing, which are answered in as much detail as possible.
Introductions and information
On the day of the adjudication, the Executive Director and Program Officer arrive about an hour in advance to set a place for each juror, and to ensure that all the tools and materials are in place. To keep the jurors alert and happy, plenty of coffee is prepared and snack items are ready for the morning. The Council also provides a lunch of fresh sandwiches and desserts from local establishments.
At the appointed time, the jurors are welcomed to the Boardroom and asked to take a spot at the table. A representative from the Province, who observes the events of the day, is also welcomed. This observer is an important part of our relationship with the Government, which provides our funding: it assures the Government that the process is transparent and driven by best practices. This observer does not participate in discussions or scoring, with one exception. The exception arises when French applications are being considered. For this period of time, the observer, who is Francophone or bilingual, may assist the jury, ensuring that all relevant details are fully understood by all jury members. This process ensures that important nuances are not lost in the translations provided.
The adjudication begins with an introduction from the Executive Director and introductions by the jurors. The Executive Director then reviews the conflict of interest policies and what to do if a conflict exists: jurors must state that they are in conflict and leave the room for all discussion and scoring. Given the small size of the arts community, there are some conflicts in every round, and each is handled in this manner. The importance of confidentiality and the assurances of confidentiality are reviewed to ensure open dialogue around the table during the adjudication process.
The Executive Director then discuss how scores must reflect the purposes of each grant as stated, clarifying that, above all, artistic merit must always be the primary consideration when assigning a score. Financial need is not a factor.
The jurors are invited to ask questions about process or procedure, conflict policies, and any other items that may concern them. These questions often start important discussions that continue throughout the day and are encouraged. Through the entire day, both the Executive Director and the Program Officer take notes on the process, which are incorporated in an after-adjudication review and could result in changes to procedures or become policy recommendations to the Board.
Review of applications
The applications are reviewed alphabetically by Program and Discipline. For example, the process typically starts with the Creation and Production Program in the Dance discipline. Where there are both emerging artists and senior artists, emerging artists are reviewed first, followed by senior artists. Jurors are reminded that their standards and expectations must be adjusted to match the group under consideration. It is also important to remember that there is no cross-discipline consideration in the Creation and Production Programs; for example, dancers are only considered with other dancers.
Each application is reviewed individually. The Program Officer will introduce the application with the short summary you provided. If there is media to review, it will be reviewed. The discussion will begin. The Executive Director monitors each discussion to ensure it remains relevant. If the jurors begin to drift, they are reminded to return to those topics important to the matters at hand. Discussion about the project and its merits is encouraged; however, the discussion around the budget, unless someone has specific knowledge of an error, exaggeration, or ineligible amount is discouraged. As each juror has reviewed the application in advance, the discussion usually gets straight to the point. At times, this discussion can be passionate, even heated, which is entirely permissible if respectful. As discussion begins to wane, the Executive Director will ask the jurors to assign scores.
Jurors assign scores from 0 to 10 (including .5 points should they desire) and submit them in writing. The scores are collected and entered into the database for use in the final tabulation. The scores are collected in an anonymous fashion to avoid situations where some jurors may try to adjust their score to account for predicted lower or higher scores from other jurors.. Anonymous, silent scoring eliminates any possible score manipulation.
If a juror has stepped out of the room due to a conflict of interest, the score is comprised of the average of the scores submitted.
Generally, the process continues through the entire day, with a working lunch and several short breaks.
At the end of the day, the scores given by the jurors are used to provide a ranked list of applicants. This list is arranged in the same way the applications were adjudicated: by Program and by Discipline. However, the information is arranged with the top scoring applicants at the top, followed by the remainder of the applicants in descending order based on the score.
A copy of this report is provided to each juror to review, to ensure that the final results agree with the conversations that have taken place. The jurors are then asked to assign a “bar” score. This bar is the score over which, were funds unlimited, all applicants would receive funding and, under which, an applicant would not be funded regardless of available funds. After the review and determination of the “bar” score, one report is signed by each juror, which is kept in a permanent file. The jurors are then thanked for their time, and provided with their honoraria for their hard work.
Finally, each juror is asked to take some time to consider the events of the day. If they have any suggestions, criticism, ideas, or thoughts, they are encouraged to submit them. Often these comments lead to important changes in the Council’s procedures and help to make the process more equitable.
Assignment of funds
At this time, the Council is now in possession of a ranked list of artists, by program and discipline, which has been unanimously endorsed by the panel of jurors. The Executive Director and Program Officer then proceed to assign funds to the list.
Funds are calculated in a very specific manner.
The total amount budgeted for that round is divided in half. From one half, each discipline is assigned an equal share. This step ensures that some funds are available for each discipline.
Next, the remaining half is assigned in a proportional manner, based on the demand in each discipline over the past five years. This process allows the Council to account for higher levels of demand in, for example, music and visual arts, and lower levels of demand in other disciplines.
After these calculations, specific amounts are assigned for each discipline. If there is a discipline where there were no applications, or in which no application exceeded the “bar” score, that amount is shared among the remaining disciplines.
The amounts are now assigned to the ranked list, with the highest ranking applications receiving funding first, and so on down the list. Given the funds available, they are quickly exhausted. Once the funds are assigned at 100% of the requested amount, the list is reviewed by the Executive Director. If reducing all the amounts awarded to between 95-99% of the amounts requested will free up enough funds to fund a significant amount of one final grant, an adjustment will be made.
This process results in a list of funded applications that is put into a report and sent to the Board of Directors for ratification. This step is largely a formality to ensure that the Board is apprised of the numbers and amounts of grants awarded. The Board does not make changes to the report. Once ratified, the process of preparing the letters to notify applicants of the final results begins.
Informing the applicants
Over the period of 2005-2010, the general rate of success has been marginally better than 1 in 3. This rate of success is entirely in keeping with our national peers in other jurisdictions, and better in some cases. It does mean, of course, that 2 in 3 applicants will receive news that their application will not be funded. These applicants are encouraged to meet with us, face-to-face, to find out what unattributed comments from the jurors can be shared with them, where their applications had strengths and/or weaknesses in the eyes of the jury, and any staff recommendations for the future.
Applicants who are not successful may submit an identical application for the next round. The Council will not consider the same application more than twice. If you, as an applicant, feel that your application was treated unfairly or that the Council’s policies were breached, the Council provides an avenue for appeal, which can be found on the web site on the “Grants to Artists” page in the “Important Information” section.
Applicants who receive funding are provided, in their letter, with a contract that stipulates their obligations. The Council is distributing public funds, which places certain responsibilities on grant recipients. If the funds are accepted, the responsibilities must be met. Failure to do so can mean forfeiture of all or part of the funds.
It can take up to eight weeks for all of this business to be accomplished, and, in exceptional circumstances, it can take longer. All applicants are informed by mail, and all letters are sent at the same time.
Directors applying for grants
Under Council policy, Directors may apply for grants. It is permitted in order to attract active, committed, working members of the arts community to the Board. Often, the Council becomes aware of ideal future Directors through their participation as artists, as jurors, or as individuals who seek input into our processes. As a Director can potentially be an important member of our Board for up to nine years, the Council cannot ask such a person to forgo the potential of receiving a grant for that period, particularly in a small province with such limited resources for the arts. In short, the value of having such a person on the Board exceeds the potential criticism caused by a Director receiving a grant.
However, to allow for it to occur, the Council has strict policies to govern this situation that must, without fail, be followed to the letter. These policies are in two parts:
IV. Code of Ethics – Board of Directors
IV.1 Conflict of Interest
Managing Conflict of Interest:
IV.1.1. Grant Applications
IV.1.1.a. Under the current program structure, sitting Directors may apply for grants or other program funds (see section XI.2). Additionally, whether as an applicant or not, these Directors come from the field and Directors may have contacts with one or more of the applicants. Where an actual or potential conflict of interest exists, it must be disclosed and the Director must abstain from any and all participation related to the application, and leave any official meeting for the duration of the discussion.
IV.1.1.b. Conflict of interest exists or may exist if Directors are asked to assess, comment upon, or vote upon applications:
IV.1.1.b.i. from a full-time employee, a client or an organization where they are a board member;
IV.1.1.b.ii. where they have a direct financial interest in the success or failure of an application;
IV.1.1.b.iii. where the applicant is their spouse/partner or immediate family member;
IV.1.1.b.iv. where their spouse/partner or immediate family member is a senior staff member, contractor or board member with the applicant organization; or
IV.1.1.b.v. where they judge that they are unable, for any other reason, to assess an application objectively
IV.1.1.c. Directors who are in conflict of interest must state this clearly. Directors are not required to state the nature of this conflict. Additionally, Directors are asked to refrain from making any comment on the application in question whatsoever.
IV.1.2. Other Conflicts
IV.1.2.a. Due to the nature of the arts community on Prince Edward Island, Directors may find themselves representing competing interests through involvement in other organizations. Directors who find themselves in such a position should make this known to the Chair and identify to the Chair from which decisions or discussions they must abstain.
IV.1.2.b. Directors who suspect they are in a conflict of interest or may be in a conflict of interest for any other reason should discuss this with the Chair.
Note: this policy, when distributed contains the line “I have read the Prince Edward Island Council of the Arts Conflict of Interest Policy and agree to abide by this policy.” with a space for signature and date.
And the referred to Section XI.2:
XI.2 BOARD DIRECTORS APPLICATIONS FOR GRANTS POLICY
XI.2.1.a. As per section IV.1.1.a Board Directors are permitted to apply for and receive funding under PEICA programs given that certain conditions are met before, during, and after that grants application process, adjudication and ratification. This policy describes the necessary actions a Director must take in order to maintain those conditions
XI.2.2. Required actions and abstentions for Directors who apply
XI.2.2.a. Prior to the applications submission, the Director must inform the Executive Director that it is their intention to make an application to a Council grant program.
XI.2.2.b. That Director will then abstain from any discussion and or motion or vote regarding program design, adjudicator selection, policies that pertain to programs and their implementation, and ratifications of results until if successful, funds are distributed.
XI.2.3. Consequences of failure to adhere to the policy
XI.2.3.a. In the event that a Director fails to adhere to this policy and a grant is successful, those funds become immediately forfeit and the Executive Director will inform the Chair, or, in the event that the breach of policy involves the Chair, a member of the Executive Committee, of the breach in policy.
The Jury Pool
On a regular basis, the Executive Director calls on the community to nominate jurors. It is important that the pool of jurors contains a breadth and scope of experience and disciplines so that each jury can be constructed with as much equity as possible.
To add someone to the pool, or to be added yourself, is as simple as contacting the Council offices. You will be asked some simple questions and the appropriate information will be recorded.
This pool is presented to the Board for approval, approximately once a year. The Board can review the list, and it helps with their knowledge of the community, often by identifying people listed in the pool who have moved away. The Board approves of the pool, but it has no say in the construction of any specific jury. Juries are assembled by the Executive Director.