DYCP Dovetail Sonnet application

Ace Poetry Project – funding

Are you applying for the Arts Council’s funding programme Developing Your Creative Practice? Here are 13 things you might want to think about when you make your application.

I was very lucky to receive DYCP funding in August last year for my Dovetail Sonnets: Time to Write project. These are a few things I learned or came across when I was making my application. I hope they help.

Please remember, I’m not an expert, I’m just sharing what worked for me. I’m sure the processes for this fund are being updated and developed even as we speak, so please make sure you know what’s what and read all the guidelines carefully. Always get in touch with ACE for any clarification, assistance or support.

To find out more about my Dovetail Sonnets project, have a look at my blog posts or read my interview on the Arts Council’s website by clicking HERE.

  • MAKE SURE YOU REGISTER FOR GRANTIUM IN GOOD TIME. It’s a tricky little beast, Grantium, and can be really confusing to use at first. It’s the application portal for ACE. You must register and wait for your registration to be verified before you can even apply for any ACE funding.
  • DON’T RUSH IT. I cannot stress this enough. Make it easy on yourself and give yourself time. I took about four weeks to write and re-work my application. I re-drafted it about 8 times, at first taking out swathes of waffle, then polishing, refining, making sure it made sense. I think I spent a day sorting out the budget.
  • BE CLEAR. This is vital.  Make sure you write your submission in Pages or Word beforehand and then paste into the form. I copied each question from the form as I worked on it and answered it as clearly and specifically as possible. It saved me a massive amount of time.
  • DON’T WAFFLE. Tricky, this, because it’s about finding the balance between having your creative voice which shows how passionate you are about the work and going off track. I went off on one many, many times in the drafting process.
  • DON’T TRY TO SOUND LIKE YOU WORK FOR AN ARTS ORGANISATION (unless you are one, that is). I’ve worked for many arts orgs and found it easy to wander off into art-speak. I had to keep pulling back and remembering I’m applying as a poet making a creative, but professional application.
  •  CHARACTER COUNT for answering questions – this is characters, not words, and includes spaces and returns. This might have been updated now, but I found number allowances didn’t always marry with what the space would allow. So check. Paste in some dummy text and do a character & word count from that. I found, for example, in ‘Your Work’ the box titled ‘Tell us about yourself and your creative practice’ allowed 1800 characters or about 330 words, but the boxes in ‘Your Development’ said they only allowed 1500 character, but actually allowed more. I made a note in each box how many characters it actually allowed and worked to that. This also saves a lot of time (and stress!).
  • BULLET POINTS.  don’t be afraid to use bullet points to list things. This makes reading much clearer for whoever’s assessing it. Be kind to them. They receive about 900 applications each round.
  • BUDGET. Don’t let it terrify you. If you’re unsure about something, ask ACE or look for organisations that can help, for example, The Society of Authors, NAWE, Writer Development Agencies, The Poetry Society. Be sensible and reasonable for what you’re asking for and what you need.
  • TIME SCHEDULE. This didn’t seem to be set in stone, rather it’s a guideline for how you’re going to achieve and manage your time and your project. Obviously some projects will have dates factored into them. Your milestones are your milestones, they don’t have to be massive or groundbreaking, they just have to mark a point in the development that you’re aiming for.
  • LET SOMEONE ELSE READ IT. Give your almost finished draft to a friend or colleague to read. If you can find someone who doesn’t know the project, then all the better because they should be able to tell you where it makes sense and where it might not. They’ll also be able to point out typos and errors.
  • USE YOUR ACE RELATIONSHIP MANAGER OR DYCP TEAM. ACE know their projects and funding streams. Your Relationship Manager won’t be able to read your application, but he/she should be able to give advice on overall direction. If there’s something you’re unsure about, ask them.
  • ASK OTHER PEOPLE FOR HELP. There are lots of arts organisations you can ask for advice when you put together your application. You might want to get in touch with your local writer development agency, such as Writing East Midlands, The National Centre for Writing, Writing West Midlands, Literature Works, Spread the Word, New Writing North, New Writing South.
  • SUBMIT IN GOOD TIME. I submitted it a good few days before the deadline (this meant that if the server went down or there were other gremlins, then I had time to deal with it).

That’s about it. I’ll add more as I think about them. Good luck with your application!


This is part of a mini-series of blogs for the Dovetail Sonnets project, looking at the writing process, woodworking, foresting in the UK & abroad, and climate change.

Dovetail sonnets: Time to Write was supported by Developing Your Creative Practice funding from Arts Council England.

Arts Council England logo in black and white. Reads: Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.