By Sophia Park on November 12th, 2019
The Best Arts Service Organizations in the US: An Informal List
Making art is not an easy process. You need all the help and support you can get to make your vision come true.
Your support system can include your friends who send you encouraging texts in the midst of an exhibition install, patrons who monetarily fund your project, visitors who attend your artist talks, and institutions that provide additional programs and services. This moving, breathing ecosystem includes the arts service organization.
Arts service organizations are nonprofit entities that support artists, creators, and the general cultural community. These organizations operate at both national and local levels. Each organization provides programs and services that enhance the cultural sector through a variety of ways.
Some organizations focus on awarding grants to artists and arts organizations. There are others that provide diverse programming focused on the intersections of the arts and social justice.
Others use the strength of their network of artist and art administrator members, representing interdisciplinary fields or in one creative discipline, to distribute opportunities to the cultural sector.
Fractured Atlas is also a part of this living cultural ecosystem as an arts service organization that provides programs and services to help artists and creatives. We offer low-cost ticketing services, fiscal sponsorship, professional development assistance, and more. We know that we alone cannot do all of the work to help the cultural sector, so with this post we want to highlight the excellent work of our partners in helping artists and creatives thrive.
Below are arts service organizations that are leading the way to ensure artists and creators are supported as part of the large, evolving cultural ecosystem.
Please note, this is not an exhaustive list nor is it ranked. These are just good organizations doing valuable work that we think you should know about.
Arts Service Organizations Providing Funding or Funding Resources
Artists and creatives can make money in a variety of ways. One of the ways to earn money is through arts service organizations that give out awards to artists and projects. The following arts service organizations give funding either through awards or grants or both!
United States Artists
Based in Chicago, United States Artists was founded in 2006. Since its founding, they have awarded more than 550 individuals with over $25 million of direct support. One award they distribute is the USA Fellowship, an unrestricted $50,000 award that recognizes artists and their essential role in the United States. From Simone Leigh to Camille A. Brown to Helado Negro, the fellowship awards artists to create more and expand their practices while making new connections. Earlier this year, United States Artists introduced the Berresford Prize, an unrestricted $25,000 award given annually to a significant cultural practitioner. The first awardee was Kristy Edmunds, an artistic director and curator.
A Blade of Grass
A Blade of Grass is a Brooklyn, NY based organization that focuses on arts and social practice. They fund socially engaged artists through a fellowship program. The fellowship gives artists $20,000 in minimally restricted support. One of the cool parts of the fellowship is that it opens up opportunities for fellows to use their work to become part of the focus of A Blade of Grass content and programming that is public-facing.
Creative Capital is a New York-based organization that also provides financial support to artists through the Creative Capital Award. Creative Capital provides each project selected with up to $50,000 in direct funding and career development services valued at $50,000 for a total commitment of up to $100,000 per project. By adding professional development resources to funding, Creative Capital is able to give to artists more than just direct support for a specific art project. Instead, the organization acknowledges the whole career of an artist.
The Arts Community Alliance (TACA)
The Arts Community Alliance (TACA) is based in Dallas, Texas and provides programs to artists in the Northern Texas area. They award several types of grants, workshops, and a resource library. Their grants range of general operating awards to artist residency funds for nonprofit organizations. The Artist Residency Fund Grants were launched in 2015, and they have supported 17 different residencies with $370,000 in support.
Arts Service Organizations Providing Fiscal Sponsorship
One of the way you can fund your work is through fiscal sponsorship, and if you need a reminder our Associate Director of Marketing, Courtney Harge, gave us a great explanation of what fiscal sponsorship is in another post. If you already know what fiscal sponsorship is and how it can benefit you, the following is a shortlist of organizations that provide fiscal sponsorship. Keep in mind, that these organizations also do more than just fiscal sponsorship.
New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA)
Established in 1971, New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) provides a range of programs and services including fiscal sponsorship and a robust job opportunity board. The fiscal sponsorship program accepts applications on a quarterly basis, and for accepted artists NYFA charges an 8% administrative fee, a $100 contract fee, a $100 annual renewal fee, and a $45 quarterly maintenance fee. In addition to fiscal sponsorship, NYFA offers a wide variety of professional development workshops for artists that range in cost.
Allied Media Projects
With a focus on social justice, Allied Media Projects (AMP) is rooted in Detroit and provides a fiscal sponsorship program and an annual conference for artists. AMP takes a minimum 7% fee from all funds they manage with adjustment depending on the type of support the project’s needs. In addition to fiscal sponsorship, AMP gives financial management to their sponsored projects, which includes support in project planning, communication strategy, booking services, and more.
Through programs covering professional development, fiscal sponsorship, fieldwork (through The Field network), and thought leadership, The Field aims to provide artists and culture workers access to much-needed opportunities, resources, funding, advice, and information. More than 1,200 performing and media artists utilize The Field’s resources to build their art practices.
Intersection for the Arts
While Intersection for the Arts provides a large range of programs and services, they also offer fiscal sponsorship. Currently, their membership network includes over 160 artists and arts organizations in 7 counties across the Bay Area in California working across many disciplines. The membership includes fiscal sponsorship, discounts on workshops, arts coaching, access to co-working space, and staff support. Membership cost is a $50 non-refundable application fee, $100 intake fee due at contract signing (if the project is accepted), a 10% fee on the fiscally sponsored projects’ income, and a $100 annual renewal fee.
Advocacy Driven Arts Service Organizations
Art is not apolitical, especially if you are an artist or an arts administrator coming from a traditionally underrepresented background. These arts service organizations make sure that their programming intersects arts and advocacy.
Alternate Roots is an arts service organization based in the Southern region of the United States. Alternate Roots works at the intersection of arts, community, and activism with social and economic justice at the forefront of their programming. Partners in Action is one of their programs that uses the strength of a network to support efforts of cultural equity and social justice. Another program is Artistic Assistance, which offers professional development tools to individual artists and cultural workers in the South to further build their creative practices. Alternate Roots operates on a membership-based system and offers three different types of membership for an annual fee of $40.
While not an official 501(c)(3), we wanted to highlight CultureStrike. CultureStrike offers a variety of programs focused on the power of social movements and the arts. The organization is driven by a network of migrant workers of all backgrounds whether women, people of color, queer, trans, working-class, and/or undocumented people. CultureStrikes aims to change the narrative of who is making art, and who drives cultural impact by bringing traditionally underrepresented voices to the forefront. One highlighted project includes their frequent publications such as CultureStrike Magazine and UndocuWriting.
Springboard for the Arts
Springboard for the Arts is based in Minnesota and is an economic and community development organization for artists by artists. The belief that artists are critical to building stronger communities, neighborhoods, and economies is what drives Springboard for the Arts. A highlight of their services include the Job Board, which advertises cultural sector jobs in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.
Membership, Network, and Commons-based Arts Service Organizations
Artists and creators are powerful, and even more so when we come together. These arts service organizations offer programs and services on a membership-based infrastructure. This opens up opportunities for networking and leveraging people power for services.
Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP)
The Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) is a Washington, D.C.-based organization for the performing arts presenting sector and holds a member-only annual conference in New York City every year. APAP serves thousands of member organizations and individuals to strengthen the performing field and advance careers through professional development, grant support, advocacy, networking, and more. APAP offers a number of different membership levels ranging from a student level at $60 per year to presenter level at $300 and up per year.
Dance/USA is based in Washington D.C. and serves the dance field through core programs in areas of engagement, advocacy, research, and preservation. Leadership and learning opportunities include face-to-face opportunities through annual conferences. Dance/USA offers additional programs and services to enrich members of the dance ecosystem. The organization serves over 500 organizational and individual members nation-wide. Members include agents, managers, producers, presenters, professional dancers, students, and more.
National Performance Network (NPN)
The National Performance Network (NPN) is based out of New Orleans, LA and seeks to provide performing and visual artists with resources needed to develop and tour new work and ensure arts leaders have the skills and opportunities to be successful. They have a network of more than 100 arts organizations throughout the U.S., Latin America, and Asia. They work to showcase artists that are not only pushing the boundaries of their artistic fields but also influencing the world at large. Membership type differs depending on the organization, and includes National Partners, New Orleans Local Network, National Relationships, and Colleagues.
Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
Theatre Communications Group(TCG) serves professional theatre artists in the U.S. and globally. Members include theatres, affiliate organizations, and individual members. There are currently over 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations, and nearly 10,000 individual members. Programming revolves around grant making, publishing, leadership.
Common Field connects, supports, and advocates for artists by putting them at the front and center. It is a national network of over 700 independent arts organizations and organizers across 43 states. Members are diverse and include alternative art spaces, publications, digital exhibition venues, residencies, and more. With a particular focus on grassroots arts movements, they also host convenings annually that connect artists and provide tools and resources.
CultureWorks is a management commons for arts, heritage, and creative communities. The organization provides platforms for artists to flourish in their work. There are more than 200 members, including over 100 fiscally sponsored projects, in the CultureWorks network. There are various types of members including individual and organizational members. You can select the services you need and contact them. Programs include workspace, technology, consulting, community building, fiscal sponsorship, finance & HR needs, legal, insurance, fundraising, marketing, data management, and operating funds.
Based in the greater Boston area in MA, Arts Boston supports its 175 member organizations by providing vital research and audience building programs to support the arts and cultural sector. Depending on the member organization’s annual operating expenses and whether they are a nonprofit or commercial-based organization, there is a sliding scale for membership fees from $215 to $2,225 per year. Membership benefits include visibility and exposure, capacity building opportunities, and networking.
Arts Service Organizations Providing Resources and Tools
Help can come in all different forms including knowledge bases and reading material. Most arts service organizations provide a knowledge base with topics such as professional development. Make sure to check out these resources.
Howlround Theatre Commons is a free and open platform for theatre makers worldwide that amplifies progressive, disruptive ideas. Programs include a Journal (publishing platform), Howlround TV (a video archive), and more. Howlround also hosts convenings for face-to-face conversations for theatre makers. All programs are geared towards open source learning, so participants can contribute their own knowledge to push the field forward.
The Arts Service Organization for You
As you can see, there are many options to choose from when it comes to arts service organizations. It's helpful to know what you want help with to figure out which organization provides the service you need. Do you need to fund your next project? Maybe you should consider an organization that provides fiscal sponsorship and fundraising assistance.
Is there a particular arts service organization that has greatly impacted your artistic career so far? What service did you find particularly helpful? Please let us know! Tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and share your insights with the hashtag #LongLiveTheArtist.
Fractured Atlas offers programs and services to help artists and cultural workers thrive such as fiscal sponsorship, artist visa letters, a low-cost ticketing and customer relations management system, a knowledge base, and more. Sign up to be a member today for access to these services and more.
About Sophia Park
Sophia Park is a writer, curator, and arts administrator based in Brooklyn, NY and originally from Gumi, South Korea. She received her B.A. in Neuroscience from Oberlin College and currently is a candidate for an M.A. in Curatorial Practice at the School of Visual Arts. She currently works as the Director of External Relations at Fractured Atlas. Prior to joining the Fractured Atlas's External Relations team, she worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is a co-founder of Jip Gallery, a curatorial project based in Brooklyn and online. You can find her writing in Womanly Mag, Strata Mag, Monument Lab’s Bulletin, Asymptote Journal, Inciter Art, and others. She’s currently thinking about communal practices of care, diasporic memory, and artist support. But that may shift readily tomorrow. You can also find her running some silly distance, trying to get back into tennis, or dancing somewhere.