HARDCOPY+tag_CMYK_workingSo excited!  I have just been accepted into the 2015 HARDCOPY program.

30 writers from around Australia have been selected for Round 1, which consists of two long weekends (one in May, one in September) of writing and industry workshops.  Then 10 of those writers are selected for Round 2, which consists of one-on-one consultations between writers and publishers and a publishers panel Q&A.

The program is subsidised by the Australia Council for the Arts, although the selected writers all need to stump up at least $550 plus travel and accommodation costs.  Sigh.

The program officer has kindly offered to provide feedback about my application, so I’ll definitely organise a date and time for that. But it bothers me that similar feedback will be unavailable to unsuccessful applicants – the application information specifically notes this. They won’t even be informed that they were unsuccessful, which strikes me as a bit harsh.

As part of my day job, I write and submit tender applications – usually to government agencies or councils. That’s how we win work. I always ask for, and usually receive, feedback about the unsuccessful submissions. And the government contact officers are usually happy to provide it. It only takes 5-10 minutes on the phone, after all. How many submissions did they receive? Where did our submission rank (high, mid-field, low)?  How did we rate against the published selection criteria?  How did we go with the price?  The nicest contact officers might also volunteer some informal information about why the winning tenderer won, and what my company might need to improve on in order to win next time. This feedback helps to ensure the quality of our tenders rises over time. And they have – our annual win rate increases every year. The way I see it, the provision of such feedback is all part of my tax dollars at work. In the long term the agencies receive better tenders and Australian businesses (especially small businesses like mine) develop skills and capacity.

Last year, blogger and writer Liz McShane very generously shared the feedback she received about her own unsuccessful application for the 2014 HARDCOPY program (which focussed on fiction writers). I found the information extraordinarily useful in crafting my own application. Thank you!  Weirdly, this fairly generic feedback was nowhere to be seen in the official information provided to 2015 applicants.

So if government agencies can provide feedback to unsuccessful tenderers, why can’t government-funded arts organisations provide feedback to unsuccessful program applicants? Or to unsuccessful grant applicants? Why isn’t the provision of feedback a condition of Australia Council funding to arts organisations?

I guess these are issues I might raise directly with the ACT Writers Centre but I don’t want to be seen as carping, or complaining when I’ve been fortunate enough to be selected. Hmmmm.

The first set of HARDCOPY workshops are scheduled for late May. Stay tuned…

The ACT Writers Centre is supported by the ACT Government. HARDCOPY has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Whispering Gums discussed the HARDCOPY program way back in February 2015, at which point I had decided to apply but was too superstitious to say so. Many thanks for the heads up, though.