unsuccessful Student Microgrant samples

We do not want to ever discourage anyone from applying for an ArtsEngine Student MicroGrant, but we would like to give you some examples of applications that would likely be unsuccessful in meeting the grant program’s criteria. Projects typically do not receive funding for one of four reasons (though there maybe be other reasons for rejection, at the committee’s discretion, when viewing the application as a whole):

  • art or design is not a central tenet of the project;
  • the project or the team is not sufficiently or unusually interdisciplinary;
  • there is insufficient collaboration to spark new ways of thinking or problem-solving; and/or
  • there is not sufficient interdisciplinary expertise or variation with the applicant or their proposed team to successfully meet the needs of the project or our criteria. ArtsEngine defines “interdisciplinary” as interacting with different schools and colleges at the University of Michigan.

After reviewing these “unsuccessful” project examples, we also encourage you to contact us if you would like to schedule a project consultation, ask questions, or receive advice and information prior to completing your ArtsEngine Student MicroGrant application. If an application does not initially receive grant funding, the applicant and their team may be invited to a project consultation toward a reapplication if the review committee believes additional planning or project adjustments might make grant funding possible.

I am planning an exhibition of my paintings that are inspired by the technology and automation of the Detroit assembly plants of the 50’s and 60’s, as part of my Independent Project in Art & Design. I have no plans for collaborators, but find such beauty and horror in machinery that I am compelled to create these images on a major scale, drawing on my own interest in engineering methods. My paintings are on glass, which supports my work as being both interdisciplinary and non-traditional in approach and materials.

This is a great project, and does have art or design as a central tenet. However, an interest in engineering may not be sufficient to meet the interdisciplinary expertise (if the student was a double major, A&D and ENGR, that might add sufficient interdisciplinary expertise), and the unusual materials do not elevate the project outside of what might be a typical artist’s exploration. Having a collaborator in another school or college would help this application, but inspiration from another discipline is not unusual for an art exhibition – one is bound to be inspired or influenced by something!

I am doing a production of Our Town as a directing project and plan to have original music composed for the show, as well as have student dancers from SMTD perform during the cemetery scene. By using the play’s text and adding original music and dance, I am stretching the boundaries across the disciplines, and expanding what the show may be able to say to an audience through alternative performance approaches.

This is a great project, and it does have art as a central tenet, but the arts discipline – theatre – may be described as inherently interdisciplinary in its typical use of text, music, dance, architecture, history, culture, linguistics, and design. So there needs to be something “extra” or “unusually” interdisciplinary in the theatrical approach, or the team putting on the production. It could be a technical aspect, it could be a research based approach, it could be thematic – but a straight play, even one that is adding other performative efforts, is not typically going to receive this funding (though funding from other places, such as Arts at Michigan, would be likely). And as SMTD is all one school, the team would not be considered as sufficiently interdisciplinary from an ArtsEngine standpoint.

I am proposing a new way to turn lead into gold, using a unique chemical process and equipment. I need ArtsEngine funding to build the table-top “Goldinator” prototype and will be working with student colleagues in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. By creating this new technology, we will be making the world a better – and more aesthetically pleasing – place, as everything is more artistic if infused with gold!  

While gold is indeed shiny and attractive, and used in jewelry, an arts field, the mere presence of gold does not “art” make (of course!). So, art is not a central tenet. The team is also all in the College of Engineering, so is not interdisciplinary by our definition. But if they are successful, we may wish to get in on the bottom floor as shareholders!

We would like to build a portable community stage and exhibition pavilion, as a low-cost solution for creating community “arts space” on vacant urban property. We will be looking for community partners and hope to have an interdisciplinary team of student artists, musicians, and engineers to help us develop the first installation of this project.

This is a great project, and also a bit tricky from a review standpoint – it has performing arts as a purpose for the project, and is a project emerging from a design field and standpoint (Architecture, Creative Placemaking), so meets that criteria. They are also planning an interdisciplinary team – but do not have one yet. And this group may benefit from some additional training and support in working with the community and finding a community partner. So, we would likely either defer funding toward a project consultation and connections to collaborators and community engagement, or we may fund the project on the condition of identifying a community partner and at least one other student for the interdisciplinary team.

I am interested in creating a killer app to help college students with food insecurity find free food on campus, piggybacking on the many catering events that occur on campus and helping to cut down on food waste as part of the sustainability initiative at U-M. As an SI student in UX, I have the user experience expertise to create an interesting and compelling interface, and I will be working with my friend who is in EECS, to ensure coding expertise.

This is a great project (and one that has been done on other campuses and should certainly be undertaken here at U-M!) and it has a definitional interdisciplinary team – College of Engineering and School of Information. And one could argue that design is inherent in creating an app, but one could argue design comes into anything one might make – so does not elevate sufficiently to meet the art and design criteria. If they were to add an A&D student, or indicated graphic design expertise (often a feature of UX), the application might be regarded more favorably, though that may still not be compelling to the review committee. So, someone should do this app immediately, but it would not be likely to be funded here.