Review, Revise, Click: Creating the Arts World You Want
by Ines Familiar-Miller
I sat before the computer screen, my hand hovering above the keyboard. I was nervous before hitting that irreversible submit button. I paused, reviewed, and took a big breath. Click.
The moment I wrote and submitted my first grant proposal for Tomorrow’s Filmmakers, Today (TFT) was filled with a mix of accomplishment, relief, and utter uncertainty. I had done my best and the decision was now in someone else’s hands. This was how I experienced my first grant proposal submission.
Funding the future
TFT is a professional development program for emerging Latino filmmakers in Los Angeles. Over the past two years, I have been the grant writer for the program. Securing funding for any artistic program always feels like a longshot. But it turns out that we are not the only ones passionate about supporting these emerging artists. First, we received the Eastside Arts Initiative grant. A year later, we received a FilmCraft Grant Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Writing and being awarded these grants has allowed us to spark change I had only dreamed of.
Making it personal
This has been a professional and personal journey that is both fulfilling and challenging because I get to work for a project I deeply believe in and play an active role in how the program is coming to life from its first inception to fruition. The subject also hits a personal note: I am a bilingual and multicultural immigrant who rarely sees herself reflected on the screen. Most characters tend to portray stereotypical versions of immigrants and Latino people. I now have the opportunity to make a difference on how film and television tell our stories.
After successfully securing funding for the first and second years of TFT, I was invited to participate as Program Coordinator. I was excited to play a hands-on role in the logistics and implementation of the Latino film initiative. I got to meet and work with talented creators who are passionate about telling their own stories; their commitment is contagious.
Making an impact
I was boggled listening to the many challenges facing Latinos in the film industry. Creatives talked about being considered a person filling a “quota”, being pigeonholed, being asked to make their characters more mainstream, and being told what kinds of stories they could tell. We all felt empowered to make a difference by knowing more about the industry, ourselves, and how to overcome some of these barriers.
"We can break down obstacles with our commitment and passion."
It would be naive to think that one small program can change a whole industry. However, if we can help underrepresented groups navigate the industry, build the right opportunities to network, expose and spark the needed connections, then we are on the right path to effecting much-needed change. We can break down obstacles with our commitment and passion.
Looking beyond the money
Being a part of TFT allowed me to link my professional and academic lives through a hands-on learning process. During my time as a graduate student in Arts Management at Sotheby's Institute of Art-LA at Claremont Graduate University, I learned how to tell the story of an organization; and I learned that fundraising is about more than just dollars. Philanthropy is ultimately about connecting people through narratives and ideas.
Securing funding for TFT would not have been possible without the knowledge and feedback I got from my thoughtful professors. I now have a deeper interest in philanthropy and funding projects that have an impact on equal access and representation in the arts and media. I feel encouraged to continue creating inclusive projects that transcend borders and build bridges among different communities. After all, what are we but the stories we share and create together?
Ines Familiar Miller is an alumna of the Arts Management Program, and is a Program Associate at the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles. Ines is committed to social justice and to increasing participation in arts and culture. She aims to lead positive change by affirming inclusion and promoting equity in the arts, culture, and education.
Note: This is reposted with permission of Sotheby's Institute of Art. It is a part of a blog series on student and alumni insights edited by Amy Shimshon-Santo.