Online presentation review | Tips for talent development applications

At the beginning of this month, the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Fontys Academy of Architecture and Urbanism organised an online meeting about talent development and professionalisation for final year students and other interested parties. This meeting featured two presentations by the head of the Talent Development Grant Programme, Marieke Ladru, and architect Donna van Milligen Bielke, grant recipient of the Creative Industries Fund NL.

25 June 2020


Architect Donna van Milligen Bielke, a graduate of the Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam, talked about the early days of her practice. Donna took part in various competitions, winning the Prix de Rome in 2014 and receiving the Jonge Maaskantprijs in 2019. She talked about the time she applied for a Talent Development Grant in 2017 and gave some tips: 'The application in itself was an instructive and reflective exercise for me as you have to put everything into words: your vision and your goals. I analysed all my different interests and why a grant would be appropriate for my development at that time. Give your application a personal touch. The committee wants to see openness and wants to be able to understand you, so that they can be sure that the support is going to be of value to both parties.' In 2019 Donna received support for her publication through an Architecture grant. Donna: 'Grants are extremely helpful for architects who are just starting out. Since starting your own practice is a leap in the dark, the financial support provided me with the freedom to initiate projects and propose assignments that contributed to my personal development and professionalisation.'

Publicatie In Between. The urban architecture of Donna van Milligen Bielke

talent development

Marieke Ladru gave a presentation on the various grants offered by the Creative Industries Fund NL. The fund can be very helpful for architects or urban planners at the start of their career by giving financial support as part of the Talent Development Grant Programme. This work grant provides one year of support during which to determine your artistic direction, invest in knowledge development, build networks and work on the further professionalisation of your practice.

Marieke offered the following tips for people who are thinking of applying for a Talent Development Grant:
1. Start in time
You can find lots of information about the various grant programmes on the fund's website, including the Talent Development Grant Programme. Make sure you read this information before you start working on your application. The Grant Programme for Talent Development has one application round every year. The 2021 closing date will be announced at the end of 2020.
2. Ask others for feedback
To refine your application, it can be very helpful to ask other people and/or your colleagues for feedback. Tell them about your motivation, your plans and ask them for feedback. Make clear what aspects of your practice you would like to develop.
3. Be specific
If you can clearly communicate your plans and your ambitions, you are already halfway there. Make sure that your application is clear and well written and that the ambitions you set out in your cover letter correspond to your portfolio. You can ask someone else to check this for you.
4. Describe your (artistic) motivation
Describe your motives and artistic principles and how these are reflected in the activities that contribute to your personal artistic development. Describe the objective and outline of the activity and the relevant expertise.
5. Explain the relevance of your (research) questions and choices
Explain how your practice is different from other practices. And describe how your motives relate to the current (social) environment in which you live and work.
6. Be self-critical and challenge yourself
Self-reflection is important, particularly when writing a development plan. Think carefully about what you want to do with the work grant and offer a strong motivation. Describe what you will contribute to your profession by positioning yourself, and give clear descriptions of your work.
7. Position yourself
The way in which you position yourself within your field is important to the committee: How do you relate to your colleagues? Are you critical of your own practice? And is the involvement in current (social) themes also reflected in your own working method, for example with regard to cooperation partners or the public you are targeting?
8. Use your portfolio
Use your portfolio to show your personal contributions to collaborations and give an insight into your personal working methods. You can add a short video or drawings if you like.

starting grants

The presentations were followed by a Q&A session where Dominique Geelen, staff member for Architecture, told people more about the starting grant that is available as part of the Architecture Grant Scheme. The Creative Industries Fund can offer support prior to the research or project implementation phase through a starting grant as part of one of the grant programmes. When applying for a starting grant you describe the activities that will contribute to refining the content and organisational aspects of the project. For example, you can work on the problem definition or research questions, and can use this starting phase to approach experts and partners to create substantive and financial support for the project. The starting grant is intended to lead to an application for a follow-up project.