SPECIAL FEATURE Applying for DYCP grant


Wondering whether to apply for the Arts Council Develop Your Creative Practice grant? Fran Benson, who successfully applied in the most recent round, talks about her experience.

I first heard about the DYCP grant when a writer friend was awarded one last year. I didn’t think I’d have any chance of success but during those dreary lockdown weeks after Christmas, I decided to give it a go and, to my surprise, my application was successful.

The next deadline for applications is midday on 27th May 2021. The grant is up to £10,000 for English artists/creative practitioners for a project that is developing your practice (skills, knowledge, research) in some way rather than funding you to do something that you’ve done before. For example if you’re a picture book writer you might want to learn about novel writing or vice versa.

My idea, quite simply, was that I wanted to plot the next two books in my trilogy and to get the overarching story planned out, and then to edit the first book with the ideas of the series seeded into it. For me, this was about developing my skills so that I could learn about creating a series of books as opposed to a stand-alone.

If you’re considering applying here’s what I learned:

The application process isn’t exactly difficult but there is a lot of information to take in and quite a lot to prepare.

First go to the website https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/DYCP.  The two priorities are to read the guidance (I read everything I could find on the website) and, importantly, set up a user account on the Arts Council Grantium platform. (This is important because it takes up to ten working days to validate your account and you can’t apply until that’s done.)

The main sections you need to complete for the application are: 

1. Your work – I treated this like a personal statement and included information on how long I’d been writing, details of courses I’d taken, publications success (short stories), long-listing achievements and that I had had positive agent feedback. (Don’t worry if you don’t have all of these things, they’re just what I could write about.)


2. The opportunity – you need to be able to define the opportunity you’re looking for funding for. For me, this was the idea I mentioned above. The second part of this section was about why this opportunity is important and how it will help you. I talked about wanting to be able to plan the trilogy more effectively so that I don’t end up rewriting those books several times over just to get the story right and how this would develop my skills and build on existing ones.


3. Attachments – you will need to provide an example of your work – five pages and a reference. A writer friend of mine provided the reference.


4. Finance – work out all your costings and get quotes where applicable. I allowed for working with an editor, my time, some contingency if things overran and for some 1-2-1s at events later in the year.


5. Activity plan – create a timeline of the action points in your project.



With points 4 and 5 I found it much easier to plan these on paper and Excel first. The Grantium platform is a bit cumbersome so it was better to have this ready so I could just input the data.

There were times it felt a bit daunting putting the application together but I just broke it down into chunks and ticked them off as I went along. There is a lot of competition. The last round (9) had around 6,000 applications. However, they supported 1,300 individuals so it’s well worth applying for. Good luck.

Any questions? Tweet me.

(Note, I applied under the literature category. There was a visual art category and this may be relevant for illustrators but you would need to check that out.)




Fran Benson lives in rural West Sussex with her husband, three children, a slightly deranged dog, a dragon (in the attic) and cupboards full of mice. She is a freelance journalist and also works for a health charity. She writes fantasy middle grade and has been long-listed for the Bath Children’s Novel Award. She is starting an MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa in the autumn.

Twitter: @franbenson_

1 comment:

  1. Mohammed Rizwan21 July 2022 at 21:30

    I was thinking of applying for this, so this has been super helpful!

    Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experiences :-)


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