Responding to Expressions of Interest (EOI) – An Artist’s View By: Zlatko Balazic

Expression of Interest (EOI) OR an Expression of Investment, from whichever way or side you look at it there is an opportunity for an artist to express creativity and leave a lasting impression on the community as a whole. Most importantly it is a source of income for many to continue and progress their career as an artist.

Since the beginning of my working life, I have been fortunate enough to be involved in EOI’s in one form or another. From writing multi-million dollar EOI’s and Tender documents and evaluating the responses to responding specifically to EOI’s. Since being introduced to the Ballarat Arts community in 2016 by my sister-in-law Margie Balazic, I have successfully been part of over 10 EOI’s for artwork and installations in and around the Ballarat region.

I found that responding to EOI’s in the Arts sector is similar to that of the commercial ICT sector. The EOI’s generally have requirements or scope section, details of payment, a delivery schedule, a section to display capability based on previous works including examples of previous services, a section on any outsourcing or subcontracting needed and an opportunity to add value to the EOI through products or other services.

I find that it is of utmost importance to complete all sections of the EOI’s with a clear, concise response in the same order that requirements are presented and to use the response template if one is given. Using the section headings based on the scope is useful if there is no response template provided.
My general approach to responding to EOI ’s consists of five phases.

1. Discovery phase – reading what is required in the response and if I have any questions writing them down and then asking for a written response. Remembering that all questions are valid and that there are no dumb questions. Reading and rereading and being clear on what is being requested is critical here. I love this phase as it kick-starts my imagination, creativity and excitement in the EOI. It also outlines the bottom line profit I will be making or the “Go / No-go” for a response to the EOI.

2. Exploring phase – are there any themes in the EOI of my previous work or modifications to works and are there additional skills needed or products I have created that I feel will value-add to the response. Asking yourself if you have all the necessary skills to respond and produce the final product and do I need to team up or collaborate with other specialists to respond in full to the EOI. Knowing your limits and outsource or collaborate where necessary. I feel that this phase is the most satisfying in the EOI process. Asking myself what am I doing, how am I doing it, what resources will I need to do it, who will I need to support my concepts and design? Can I reuse or modify any of my previous works which would maximise the bottom line profit?. Is there an opportunity to gain skills in this EOI? I always try to allocate 10% of the EOI amount to invest in equipment or experimentation to develop my artistic abilities for future products or services.

3. Drafting phase – most EOI’s require a written response although some may need a presentation in person or video animation or slideshow. Whatever be the case drafting is essential and allocating time to this phase is critical. I find it helpful to do lots of brainstorming and if collaborating, having brainstorming sessions with the other artists early in the piece. A word processor is your friend here for cutting and pasting later. I always do a draft delivery timeline with key dates and milestones for the project to help visualise the project as a whole centring around all the other surrounding project. Having a year planner or sometimes a two-year planner is necessary to ensure the successful delivery of a project. I use a rolling year planner and project gannt chart for all my projects.

4. Finalising the submission phase – it is essential to use the remaining time you have to complete the submission. Having a checklist of items needed in the EOI is a great tool to use which ensures that you include all necessary supporting documentation and background information. I find that this is the most labour intensive phase which takes a lot of discipline and time management to complete. Identifying and culling “fluffy” content, selecting the right images, formatting the pages and presenting the information in a clear and concise way is so so important. More then likely this is the final opportunity to showcase my product or services professionally. I find that if I have any value add concepts, ideas or products to add this to the EOI response in a separate appendix and highlight this to the reader in the covering letter. Having someone else read your document before sending it will help detect any final issues.

5. Submitting the EOI response phase – In my experience, some organisations have an online method of publishing the response. Make sure that you give yourself time for the upload process, which may or may not be able to cater for the last minute surge of online applications or the size of your file. Always carefully read the details in brackets for any file size limitations or the number of images allowed in the upload. Double checking any PDF format files using another computer to ensure any embedded images are clear and the fonts used are being displayed correctly in the document. Checking that the clarity, size and format of the pictures are within stated limits is critical to your submission.

What follows next is the BIG anxious wait. I found that most EOI issuing organisations will acknowledge receipt of your application immediately or within a week and have an approximate notification date for a successful bid. I generally add this date to my electronic calendar and update my year planner accordingly.

It is beneficial that you enjoy writing the response to the EOI as it will show in the presentation and accuracy of the EOI response. I thoroughly enjoy responding to EOI’s as it is another way to express my interest in arts and further develop my professional and artistic skills as well as showcasing my capabilities and previous works. It is also an opportunity to present myself to a “captive audience” who will read the response from start to end and leave a lasting impression on the reader. This point is important for future “Selective” type EOI’s or Tenders that may arise.

Zlatko Balazic