Funds: Denied

So, I’ve had this idea to try going on a UK mini-tour with The Society Of Poor Academics. Playing a handful of small venues. It’s hard finding places in Norway to perform, as there’s not much of a singer-songwriter anti-folk lo-fi indie Casio-pop scene over here, and the UK seems like it might be more receptive to my music with more fitting venues.

Unfortunately, I’m not exactly financially well off at the moment, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. So to make the tour happen I’d need some sort of financial support. Fortunately Norway is a socialist paradise where they supposedly throw money at anyone who utters the word “culture”, and there are several funds and grants which can potentially aid you in your creative endeavours.

That is, if you’re good at filling out paper work, and you know how to press the right buttons of whoever’s administrating the grant you’re applying for.

I’d applied for funding to help cover the costs of touring from two different organizations: FFUK and Fond For Lyd Og Bilde. I’d applied for 3,200 kroner to cover my travelling costs; plane tickets back and forth, then some bus and train tickets. My British musician friend Tom had helped getting me the ticket costs so I could scribble together a rough-but-accurate budget. Tom had also helped “pre-emptively” booked me for four different venues in the UK. (It’s a bit tricky, since you’ll need to have the venues confirmed before applying for the funding, but you don’t know yet whether or not you can actually show up and play at those venues until you get a response to your application for funding. So the deals with the venues need to be fairly loose.)

Last week, I got response letters from both of the organizations. First was a letter from Fond For Lyd Og Bilde. Before opening it I was saying to myself, “Better not get your hopes up, it’s probably a rejection.” But then, feeling at the letter, it was thicker than just a single piece of paper – and rejection notes are usually just a single piece of paper. I thus deduced it was probably some sort of contract I had to read and sign to get the money, and with my excitement renewed, I opened it!

Only to find that it was indeed a rejection letter, but that they had included a printed list of those who had received funding, and how much they had received. The lowest application they had granted was for 10,000 kroner (about three times as much as I was asking), and the highest was 60,000 kroner. Among the granted applications was 50,000 kroner for Kaizers Orchestra, one of Norway’s most successful bands.

Then later the same week, I got the letter from FFUK. This one was thinner, so I didn’t get my hopes up, and I wasn’t as disappointed when I found – of course – another rejection letter. This time without any list of who the lucky receivers were – but the list is available online! So I figured I’d give it a look.

Their list seems to be a bit less detailed than the one from Fond For Lyd Og Bilde, and it isn’t just focused on financial aid related to touring. But the list includes 75,000 kroner to Morten Abel – one of Norway’s most successful native solo artists – as well as 80,000 kroner to Moddi – an artist who’s gotten some media exposure lately, and who’s about 2 to 3 years younger than me.

This probably comes off as snarky (which I guess it is), but it just seems a tiny bit unfair. Rather than giving me what is apparently to them a fairly small sum, and helping a fairly obscure but enthusiastic would-be artist to get some more experience and exposure, they dump huge sums on already established acts. The majority of which probably aren’t all that good, either. Not to say that I’m good or any better than they are – they can probably hit the right chords most of the time, whereas I’m more like 80/20 – but at least I’m considerably cheaper!

I know I’m not in any way entitled to funding, to getting grants, and I should just be thankful that there some folks out there who are getting some of this money and who’re able to grow artistically because of it and realize their creative visions. But it’s just frustrating when it seems you already have to be professional and established to receive those grants. In a way, you need to already be successful to get help becoming successful.

I’ve attached the letters to this entry, for those who’re curious what they look like. They are, however, in Norwegian, so they’ll be unreadable for most of my (very few) readers here. Of course, the letters don’t really say much, and neither of the letters specify exactly why the application was rejected. Here’s the relevant part from each letter, with a rough translation:

From FFUK:

Vi beklager å måtte meddele at styret av budsjettmessige årsaker dessverre ikke har funnet å kunne imøtekomme søknaden, som således er avslått.

Translation: We regret to inform you that the board for budgetary reasons unfortunately did not find it to meet your application, which is thus rejected.

From Fond For Lyd Og Bilde:

Styret har ikke funnet å kunne prioritere søknaden innenfor utvalgets aktuelle budsjettramme og den er derfor ikke imøtekommet.

Translation: The board has not been found to be able to prioritize the application within the committee’s current budget and is therefore not met.

This doesn’t really tell you anything constructive. It doesn’t say anything about why your application was rejected while others were approved. They basically say: “Look, our budget is limited, money doesn’t grow on trees, and we have decided to not give you any.” Gee, thank you. That’s not very helpful. It doesn’t tell me what I need to change for the next time I apply for either of the grants, how I can help increase my chances of receiving funding from them, nor anything else. Somewhat ironically, both letters specify how to proceed if I wish to complain about their decision – but how can I legitimately complain when I don’t know the basis for the rejection, and the general standard by which they judge an application good and worthy of being accepted? It might be my application was quite awful and needed a good overhaul, but I’m left with no idea as to how it could have been improved.

So, I guess that’s it. The tour will have to be put on hold for now. I might know of one more fund I can apply for, and I’ll see how that goes. I guess I can also try re-sending my application to both FFUK and Fond For Lyd Og Bilde when the time comes, and just update the dates for my suggested mini-tour. But without making any other changes, and without knowing what changes would need to be made, I fear it might be a useless and ultimately soul crushing endeavour.

Rejection letter from Fond For Lyd Og Bilde.

Rejection letter from FFUK.

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