PRSF App Hints from Vanessa Reed

On 29th January, in the Fountain Room of the Barbican Centre, Sound and Music hosted “Counting In” a morning of discussions and presentations, aimed at early-career composers and performers.  The event ran from 11am – 2pm, with the first half being a sort of ‘round-table’ discussion between panel members and the second half being presentations by Vanessa Reed (PRS), Stephen Newbould (BCMG), and Gabriel Prokofiev (Nonclassical).

In particular, composers might be interested in the notes/advice given by Vanessa Reed about the upcoming PRSF Funding Applications (there are four deadlines throughout the year, and each composer/organisation can apply once per calendar year.)  The first deadline for 2012 is 6th February.  The individual applications are new this year, and will place a special emphasis on the quality of music and the clips submitted.  As background, the average grant last year was £3,200 and the PRSF are expecting to support approximately 50 of 800 (estimated) applications.

Vanessa began by pointing out that it’s important to remember the mission of the PRS for Music when applying for their funding.  In summary, the PRSF exists “to stimulate and support the creation and performance of new music throughout the UK and to ensure that this music is enjoyed by a wide audience.”  That means they don’t fund things like purchasing equipment, funding recordings or providing travel costs to performances.  (They do, however, offer support up to £500 through the Bliss Trust Composer Bursaries – upcoming deadlines March 26th and August 28th).

One really important kernel of information that Vanessa shared was that, in general, the PRS are becoming more reticent to fund commissions that will result in only a single performance.  Notice, again, that bit about ‘ensuring that new music finds a wide audience.’  You are more likely to be funded if you team up with another organisation in a ‘co-commission’, or if you can show that the piece you’re applying to fund will have a performance life beyond the premiere.

Finally, Vanessa shared “Five Tips for Enlightened Fundraising’.  I won’t flesh them out here, but I’ll list the headings and leave them to you for your thoughts:

1. Funding can mean more than money
2. Know what happens behind the scenes
3. Break out of your niche
4. Get informed
5. Be resilient & know when to say ‘no’ or ‘why’

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