Artists of all different stripes – musicians, theatre makers, filmmakers, writers, dancers, photographers, visual arts and the like – have traditionally found raising the funds they need to pursue their passion to be difficult. It’s tricky to know how much you’ll need, not to mention finding sources of funding and then building up the confidence to make an approach.
Not so long ago, “where can I get government grants?” was one of the first questions I’d hear from an artist looking for advice on how to kick start their work. These days, they’re generally far more aware of the different paths open to them in creating their work. Thankfully, many are not just looking for the next bucket of money, but looking to how they can generate ongoing revenue, and thus forge a sustainable career in the arts.
Below is a list of the variety of funding options which artists can consider, but anyone interested in this topic should be thinking about Creative Partnerships Australia’s MATCH Lab program.
This is an outstanding opportunity for individual artists and small groups to propose a project and an associated fundraising strategy, gain the skills needed to execute that strategy and have any funds raised matched up to $10,000. Generate is putting together the two day intensive clinic that successful applicants will attend to hone their fundraising skills. Further information is here and applications are open until 17 February 2017.
With that now firmly on your radar, let’s look at a few ways in which you could start to build the support you need for your next creative work. (Maybe it will be inspiration for an application to MATCH Lab!)
Sell your product
If you make a product worth watching, reading, listening to or consuming in any other way, then what about just selling it? If you have a market for your product, and it matches a customer need, then often this can be the fastest way to getting money for your art. Plus it comes with few strings attached – earn the money, spend it how you wish. No reporting, no acquittals.
Online platforms such as Patreon offer a way of selling creative work on a regular basis to your dedicated supporters. It’s particularly useful for creatives whose work can be delivered digitally, such as writers, musicians and filmmakers. It can also work as a crowdfunding platform (see below).
Where your creative project aligns with the interests of a business, you might think about sponsorship. The trick here is there needs to be a mutual benefit. For businesses, this usually means sponsoring projects which generate sales or positive PR, or which align with the personal interests of the business owner. Cash sponsorship is great (although increasingly rare), but don’t discount in-kind support or donations of goods, as long as they’re of use in completing your project.
The use of sites like Pozible and Kickstarter have given millions of people a way to generate funds by mobilising their online communities. So crowdfunding is a good method for people who already have a sizable internet following, and can also be a useful method for pre-selling work in order to raise the funds to make it. It also suits projects which are easily divided into tiers of rewards, which you can use to generate pledges of difference sizes.
Attracting donations works well for projects which have a social outcome as well as a creative one. People are used to opening their wallets for a good cause, so if your arts project aligns with one of those, donations could be the way to go.
The more tangible outcome the better: the purchase of a musical instrument, a scholarship for young artists or a funding a residency could all be examples of specific requests donors can easily understand and get behind. You may also need a connection to a deductible gift recipient (DGR) endorsed organisation in order to offer a tax deduction; the Australian Cultural Fund may be able to help with this.
Philanthropic trusts and foundations are entities set up to distribute funds for charitable purposes. They are widely diverse in purpose, amounts they give out and how they operate. They fund a range of different causes – health, education, sport, research or social issues.
Because of the variety of different types of foundation, it’s important to find one which has aims and values which match well with your chosen project. You may well find yourself having to adjust your project to ensure that it advances the aims of the foundation. And remember that competition for funds is always high.
Federal, state and local government organisations all have programs which support arts projects. Every jurisdiction has different funding priorities, so it’s important to research each funding bodies’ grant rounds and who they are open to.
Competition for government funding is high and so only the very best applications tend to be successful; this means that the artistic quality of your project is always closely scrutinised. In addition, application and acquittal processes can be highly detailed. Organisational funding from arts funding bodies is difficult for new entrants to achieve, but project funding can be a way in, for both new organisations and individual artists.
Microfinance products – where loans for small amounts provided at low or no interest rates – have emerged in a number of different sectors in recent years, including the arts. For many, these are an attractive option for funding a range of projects, but are particularly useful for purchasing capital items, from which further revenue can be generated.
Online platforms for microfinance such as Kiva.org allow for a range of community projects to seek support from a range of borrowers. The important point here is that no matter how small the loan or the repayments, you are still responsible for the repayment of the debt.
Interested to find out more? Click here for more info on MATCH Lab, and a load of other great resources from Creative Partnerships Australia on raising funds for your arts project.