‘Keep Kirill Igorevich in mind when you write an application’

The head of the Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives gives valuable instructions to the grantwriters

On February 1, the second grant course of the Presidential Foundation for Cultural Initiatives started. Applications are accepted until March 20, non-governmental NGOs, commercial and municipal organisations, as well as individual entrepreneurs can participate in it. The total fund is 4 billion rubles. On January 30, in the government agencies of the Kazan Kremlin, the director general of the Presidential Foundation for Cultural Initiatives (PFCI), Roman Karmanov, told about how the selection is carried out and what should be taken into account when drawing up an application.

“Here are people — they can formulate it!”

Karmanov was appointed as the first deputy director general of the Komsomolskaya Pravda Publishing House. He mentioned several times in his speech (and he clearly likes to talk about the fund, because there is something to say) that the PCFI is still a young fund created in 2021. The first competition was held by four people, now there are about 100 employees in the staff, there is a separate representative office in Krasnoyarsk working for Siberia. There are also about 900 experts who do not have to declare their work, because thousands of applications pass through them and the fate of grants is decided. Karmanov, however, named one — this is Kirill Krok, the director of the Evgeny Vakhtangov Theatre, who reads three applications after work, at 11 pm:

“In the first competition, he took about 150 projects. I must say that the evaluation of the project is conscientious for two or three hours, sometimes more," Karmanov said. “Because when you come in, your first task is to understand what is the matter at all, because it often does not follow from the title at all. Usually the title is smart, creative. You go inside, read about the social significance, where people have to tell about the essence of the project, what they are going to do. You wade through the text. As a rule, this is an ornate, sometimes “grant” text, in which the applicant thinks that if he writes more difficult, then the expert, after reading this, will be indescribably delighted, will say: “Here people can formulate!”

After that, according to Karmanov, the expert opens the presentation — where he sees the same text, only in PDF format.

“How does the expert perceive it? He takes it as an insult," the CEO noted. “That is, imagine, a person works like a dog all day, flies somewhere else, business trips, problems. At eleven o'clock in the evening he comes and opens your application. What does he see there? That is, his task, of this expert, is to understand as quickly as possible what is the meaning of your application. And you start wrapping your idea in these grant texts.

Performing two feats of Hercules

It is necessary to “perform two feats of Hercules," says Karmanov: to explain transparently what you are going to do, to justify it so that it is clear that someone else besides you needs it. He also pointed out the importance of the uniqueness of the project, recalling that such situation has developed with immersive theatres and excursions:.

“Therefore, keep Kirill Igorevich in mind when you write an application," Karmanov summed up. He also advised to treat the curators easier, because each of them leads 200-250 projects, and must respond to your request within three days:

“This is not your individual curator who will work with you in real time. I check from time to time whether we meet these standards — we do. As soon as complaints about me start coming in social networks, they start writing in private messages, I understand that we stop coping, respectively, we increase the staff and the problem subsides for a while. This is due to the growth of the fund.

Laughter in the audience was caused by an explanation of the essence of partner letters, which are made up of people or organisations that are ready to help you: this is usually expressed in the phrase “organisational, consulting and information assistance”. How can they help? Will they give a room in the library for three hours for free? So you write.

Karmanov also advised not to despair of those who lost with one project — it can be submitted again by improving the application. He also discussed the teams that have won several times:

“It is dangerous to submit the same project in the same configuration. One can fail by the criterion of uniqueness. After all, experts also see your previous projects and may think that there is nothing new in your project anymore. We have projects that we would like to support from time to time. But the amount of money we have is limited. 10 billion for 2023.

Tatarstan wins by 7,8%

Besides, Karmanov strongly recommended the introduction of a PR specialist into the team:

“For example, the project is dedicated to an event, festival, artistic, theatrical, musical production. And you look at the application and find that there is nothing there that will bring people to this event. There is no PR person, there is no money for promotion. You want to bring 1,500 people to the event, but how will they know about it? Secret. Naturally, the expert's opinion is that the money will be wasted.

It should be noted that at the last board meeting of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan it was indicated that Tatarstan is the second in terms of the number of applications in the competitions of the Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives. But only 7,8% wins. Although the overall statistics for the country is 10%. Municipal employees are particularly affected, who cannot make an application clearly enough. But, perhaps, there will be even more participants — according to Karmanov, the self-employed will also join the number of potential applicants, but it is unclear when this time will come, although it is obvious that it is not far off.

Radif Kashapov, Kamilla Gordeeva. Photos of the press service of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan