Operating grants: the “reflection” function in the arts

Reflecting. That’s literally: to bounce off, radiate back. Figuratively: think about something and then express your own insights. Deep philosophical thoughts, for example. Or actual criticism. Where lies the emphasis in reflection? And (how) can you combine it with other functions?

Realising and stimulating reflection

Think of articles (on an online blog or in an offline magazine) and other publications. Or live interaction with an audience: lectures, debate series, workshops. Videos and podcasts, why not? As long as you reach an audience with your cultural outlook, right? With this function, you can engage in reflection yourself and/or stimulate such reflection in others and make it accessible.

Does it have to be about something?

Yes. Your reflection must substantively refer to a specific art practice. A work, an oeuvre, a piece of research. By an artist, collective or arts organisation. In other words, it refers to (a part of) the arts field. For example, a study into the role of festivals, an analysis of arts policy, or a consideration of contemporary youth theatre. The assessment committee looks at the quality of your reflection and at the extent to which your reflection contributes to the cultural world.

Specific reflection criteria

If you opt for “reflection”, the assessment committee will look at a number of specific sub-criteria:

  • Contents: the quality of your reflection
  • Relevance: does your reflection have meaning for the arts field?
  • Distribution: how is your reflection disseminated and made accessible?

The assessment committee reviews this entire list. It also links the criteria to other elements in your application. So make sure your budget reflects your distribution plans as well as any collaborations. And go international.

Combine “reflection”?

Want to combine reflection with other functions? This is possible, but sufficiently demarcate each function. 

The evaluator assess all functions equally seriously. If you touch on reflection, you must also have a good story to tell. In addition, the function determines the minimum and maximum percentages. If you stick only to reflection, you have to contribute 7.5 percent of your own resources. If you combine reflection with production and/or presentation, this becomes 20 percent.

Practical examples

There are organisations that focus only on reflection. They publish magazines or organise debate series. The bundling of information and knowledge in specific collections or databases is also often part of the DNA of such cultural organisations.