It all begins with characters. And a journey. And something at risk. And music that conveys the emotions, the struggle, the journey.
Getting a grant, is all of that. It can be different, dependent upon the context and the cast of characters, but frequently in the NGO sector for all of us, the effort is fraught with drama. We believe in our work. And we need the funding — we got bills to pay. We want to capture that experience, the dialogue, those dynamics in this piece.
And there are many character dynamics to explore. Below is a starter list of potential characters to prompt your submissions. You may write a song for one of these characters, and submit. From that, and from the collection of other submissions, we will attempt to build a storyline.
We are open to the evolution of the character profiles and are attempting to prompt, not be overly prescriptive relative to this collective effort.
So, curtains up, let the prompts begin.
JAMES, Client: He is thin, middle aged, and has been on and off the street for many years. He is stable, but vulnerable and interacts with the Staff as an advocate and is occasionally invited to Board meetings when there is a large organizational planning session. It is a bit of a mystery as to how he lost his self-reliance.
JEREMY, NGO Leader: In his 30’s, a bit out of shape, he is disheveled. And he works hard. He is passionate about the work, his Staff. He can be compelling, assertive and knows how to fundraise. It is work for him, though, as he is not a natural extrovert. His soul is fed by the connections with clients, but he is smart enough to know that funding, having a solid infrastructure – matters. He has probably not found the healthiest ways to manage his stress.
MELISSA, Donor: Fit, trim – she oozes confidence, wealth, intelligence. But perhaps not emotional intelligence. Given that she was successful in one arena, well, sharing her skills with the not-for-profit sector seems like an obvious, and assuredly to be welcome next step. Right? Not clear how to determine how welcome she is in the sector, given the quiet hush when she enters the room. She listens as she is self-aware enough to know she must appear to do that. But she is always prepping for her next profound, word of business insight offering.
BOB, Funder/Program Officer: In a suit, circumspect, reserved and somewhat self-conscious, perhaps he has walked a golden path to his current position? All the right schools, internships, fellowships. He knows this world, but has never had sole responsibility for the realities of an organization. He is an elusive character.
AMY, Elected Official: Effervescent, social, outgoing. She is interested in people, but also very ambitious and struggles to maintain boundaries, not work scattershot. She has some family members with an array of personal issues, so is sympathetic to the challenges individuals in the community may face, but is busy moving her own personal fortunes forward.
ANGELA, Journalist: Focused, determined, fearless. She has a chip on her shoulder, something to prove, with a sharp, biting wit. She has stories to write, and personal relationships might just be collateral damage.
POSSIBLE STORYLINE, NARRATIVE ARC
So what could this story be about? It could be any one of the following scenarios:
- Organization is in financial trouble and it comes out in the media. In the midst of all this, the organization is seeking a grant to stabilize. It does great work in the community, just not well funded.
- Organization seeking a renewal of a grant and the foundation, along with the donor from the advised fund, comes to visit. There is internal tension between Staff and the Executive Director, but obtaining this grant is very, very important. Everyone knows that.
- A new initiative, spurred by the donor, sparks a visit to the organization. She is a small government advocate, and believes with her money, and an NGO, she can save the world. It is hard to know how her vision will blend with the vision of the organization.
POTENTIAL SPECIFIC SCENES TO WRITE
- Grantwriting, making things up for a proposal. Conversations regarding data.
- Client interactions, outcomes. My own children, how are they doing?
- Donor conversations with others, politicizing the services.
- Elected officials taking credit for everything.
- Journalists, only as observers. Not offering solutions.
- Health issues for Donor, Client – who has health care? Death and money.
- Substance abuse issues for a NFP Employee, one paycheck away from being a client.
CURRENT PREFERRED MUSICAL GENRES
So, we are looking for submissions informed by these musical genres – Rock, Blues, or hip hop/rap.
For Rock, think:
- Machina/The Machines of God and Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music by The Smashing Pumpkins
- We Will Rock You featuring the music of Queen, book by Ben Elton and Amanda Green
- Repo! The Genetic Opera by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich
- American Idiot by Green Day
- Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark by Bono and The Edge
- Rockville 2069: A Rock Musical by Johnny Ray and Bruno Paiola
- School of Rock by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Glenn Slater and Julian Fellowes
For R&B, Blues, think:
- Motown The Musical: Playwright: Berry Gordy. Adapted from, To Be Loved
- After Midnight: Playwright: Jack Viertel Lyricists: Jimmy McHugh, Harry Carney, Ben Pollack, Henry Nemo, More Composers: Jimmy McHugh, Harry Carney, Ben Pollack, others.
For Hip Hop/Rap, think:
- Hamilton! Hamilton! Hamilton! You submit something in that spirit and we are golden. Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
So, your submissions to fall into these two broad categories so we can build a continuous musical theme.
Prompted? Without feeling prescribed? We want you to create and contribute. And we want to build this into a complete project so a roadmap seemed required. We are in the midst of conjuring up specific scenes with the thinking that such a prompt might also be helpful.
We welcome feedback, questions!