6 cover letters
In the arts sector there can be many different types of applications. Sometimes you are simply provided with an online form that you have to fill out – and that’s it. You don’t have to think twice. In other cases, traditional application documents are expected, as is the case in other professional areas. However, once some form of cover letter is required, there are a few things to keep in mind. It does not matter whether this cover letter is sent by email or post, whether the text content is short or detailed. It also doesn’t matter whether you are already applying for a detailed advertisement or whether you are sending an unsolicited application or maybe just want to get some preliminary information. In all cases,
Make it clear that a cover letter is the first thing others will notice of you.
It thus serves as a door opener and gives the very first impression. When, as a curator, I send two-line emails like “I hereby apply to participate in the Brücker Art Days. I have exhibited several times. With best regards… “(not an isolated case!), I don’t feel very motivated to take a closer look at the artist. I also have to research everything myself and answer the questions I have if I should shortlist someone. The possibly good vita collapses as quickly as a house of cards. You should therefore anticipate the answers to possible questions and make your cover letter as meaningful and professional as possible. Restrict yourself to pure information and leave out “sentimentalism”.
A good cover letter starts with a reasonable salutationto: Try to find out who exactly you are sending the cover letter to and name this person by name. If you already know the person personally, you can make the salutation a little looser and start with “Dear …” or “Hello …”. A “Dear….” Is not out of date even today if you are unsure whether the person would like to go directly to this level with you. You can usually tell from the answer to your letter how the person you are writing to would like to communicate, and you can then do that directly. If you’ve already got to know the person personally, but don’t know whether he or she remembers it, it is best to point out where you met in the first sentence.
Then state your intention to apply and say who you are and what you do. Also explain the reasons for your application. It is important that you provide clear information with all of this information . State explicitly what exactly you are applying for (title of the exhibition, period of the exhibition, etc.). If there are attachments (photos, documents), point them out explicitly: Say what exactly you can find in the appendix, or list the individual components, if there are more than three. If it is not yet an application, but simply a matter of contacting you and perhaps a few questions on your part, you should be just as clear about this.
Note the tender text
A basic rule of every application letter is: Answer everything that is mentioned in the advertisement .If for some reason you can’t do that or you didn’t understand a part, you have to say so! The rule also implies: Do not write anything – or at least no longer explanations – about things that were not asked for in the advertisement. If you do, mention why you think this information is interesting or important. It is important to realize that the people who drafted the tender have a clear idea of what they are looking for and that they have worded the tender accordingly. If there is not (yet) a detailed advertisement, ask in your first letter whether there will still be one or what other requirements there are. Otherwise your unsolicited application might end up in the trash.
Choose a professional qualification such as: “I look forward to your answer!” And don’t forget to provide all of your personal data and contact options: name, address, telephone number, email address, website, miscellaneous. In an email, you should have this information in a footer. You should also include your website as a link in the text of the email.
Even if it all sounds like a lot: A cover letter should be kept as short as possible . Just limit yourself to the information necessary for THIS exhibition.
Finally, it can’t hurt to choose a generally professional layout . This also applies to emails! Texts without paragraphs or with abbreviations such as “LG” or “VG” are not professional. The second contact – depending on the answer – may be very different from the first, but play it safe with the first!