Final Reports are a mandatory aspect of most government funding available to artists. These reports, completed by the artist or organization that recieved the grant, typically consist of:
- a final budget (How did you spend the money?)
- a description of how the project was carried out (Who, What, When, Where, Why - did any of these aspects change from your original proposal?)
- a sample of marketing materials (if applicable) to demostrate how funding bodies were acknowledged during the project
- information on how the project was disseminated (How many people experienced it? Did it have the impact you articulated in your proposal?)
When you are awarded a grant for your project, your notification letter will include a date on which this report is due (usually a few weeks after the project end date), and what information they will need included in it. By accepting the grant, you are committing to provide the required reporting at the end of your project. In some cases, funders will hold back a small portion of the grant (10%), to be released once they have recieved your final report.
If your project timeline needs to be adjusted, contact the arts council staff member who handles the type of grant you have recieved. Depending on the situation, they might be open to an extension, in which case your final report deadline will also be extended.
Failure to submit a final report can disqualify you from applying to future grants, so make sure to include this aspect in your project timeline.
The best way to prepare for your final report is to keep the information required in mind as you carry out your project. Getting a grant is exciting! Make sure you read the reporting requirements carefully and consider which departments (marketing, bookkeeping, design, timeline, personnel, documentation) are implicated so you can be proactive in acquiring the neccessary information as you work (rather than scrambling to generate it or track it down long after your project is over). Here's some things to consider to make final reporting a smooth part of your process:
This is one of the most valuable tools when compiling your final report. Think of your original application and your final report as the bookends of your project. The easiest way to report on what you achieved is to refer back to (and compare against) the timeline, goals, and budget you articulated in your proposal. Always keep a copy of your proposal in your files, it will save you a lot of time and keep the way you describe your project consistent.
Funders typically ask for various types of documentation which shows the project happened. Cover your bases by taking lots of photos/videos at every stage of your project. Depending on what type of grant you recieved (creation, development, production), documentation could range from:
- samples of marketing/advertising materials (posters, social media images, invitations) created for your production
- production or exhibition stills (showing the project fully realized)
- a draft of the writing/composition/score you made (for a creation grant)
- a short video archival of your activities (rehearsal video, choreography)
A very important part of recieving a grant is publicly acknowledging the support you have recieved. Funders require their logo, or a small written acknowledgement (stipulated by them) be included in advertising materials that promote your project to the public. In final reports they'd like to see samples of these materials that show their logo featured (posters, postcards) and hear about how else you acknowledged their support. Consider including their logos on your project website, or in a verbal thank you if your project included the public, but did not generate advertising/marketing materials.
Nobody wants to sort through hundreds of emails or a dusty box of reciepts 6 months after the project ends - save yourself that trouble and keep your cash flow, budget, and bookkeeping up to date as you work on your project. Be mindful that funders typically have a specific format or form they want the budget reported in (probably the same as the original application). It may group the expenses and revenues differently, so look at how they want the info reported before you begin your report.
Keep a copy of your final report as a part of your financial archives.
Treat your report like a summary, not a test. It isn't necessary to overthink your final report, as it won't be scrutinized by the granting bodies. It's best to just get them finished, so you can keep applying for future grants. If you don't know exact details, estimations are acceptable.