As an artist, it’s hard to know how to talk about your work, especially when you are applying for grants. It’s challenging to distill your vision into a limited number of words or pages. How do you summarize work that’s creative, challenging, and close to your heart? And how do you do it in such a way that will be compelling to a funder?
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As an artist, you need money to make your work. You might need money to pay someone to build your website, run lights for your play, or purchase the raw materials to make costumes.
Artists are fantastic multitaskers. Often, in the course of a single day, you might function as everything from a creator, to a curator, editor, manager, assistant, and gopher. Never mind going to the grocery store! So when it comes time to find people who will support your projects, it’s hard to find time to start. Thankfully, finding prospective donors to support your work isn’t as mystical as it seems. A little bit of research can go a long way!
When you fundraise, you’re asking for money from outside sources to realize your creative vision. As an artist, you’ll have to figure out how much it matters to you who those sources are. Who will you seek funding from and who isn’t a good fit? If the philanthropic arm of a corporation whose work you disagree with would be willing to fund your work, would you apply for a grant from them or accept money if it was offered? Would you take money from a company that you think harms your community? You don’t want to take money from somewhere that makes you so uncomfortable that you wouldn’t even want to use it, but also, you need money in order to make your work. There isn’t an easy answer, and there’s no such thing as purely ethical money under capitalism.
If you’re like me (and roughly 90% of US taxpayers), you claim the standard deduction when you file your income taxes each year. For those of us who don't have enough qualifying expenses (mortgage interest, property taxes, etc.) to itemize when we file, the standard deduction probably makes the most sense. Because of this, I am not able to deduct my charitable contributions, despite the fact that I donate to 501(c)(3) organizations.
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably one of the millions of artists who are trying to put together the pieces of not just your craft, but your life. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced us all to rethink our daily living routines and cope with the reality of deferred goals for the year. The arts community has been faced with the double challenge of re-focusing their efforts in how they share their work with their audience, in addition to likely losing other sources of income (especially for artists working in the service industry). For many, this means losing your venue, canceled rehearsals, interrupted travel arrangements, or little-to-no audience turnout.
These days, you can fund your creative work in a variety of ways—crowdfunding, sustaining donors, grants, and more. But it can be overwhelming to know where to start and which options are the best for your unique needs and goals. One tool that artists can use to maximize the benefit of grants and individual fundraising is matching grants. Our teams work with artists to help you learn more about grants, find grants to apply to, and then apply with greater confidence. Matching grants combine traditional grants and individual fundraising into one funding opportunity that is greater than the sum of its parts. They help organizations who are giving grants make their money go further, and give recipients access to more money than with just a grant or individual fundraising alone. But, they require additional fundraising efforts from the grantee to secure that funding. Let's take a look at how matching grant opportunities work for artists, and how you can determine if they might be right for you.
Singer and songwriter Morgan James recently released Memphis Magnetic, a new soul album and Fractured Atlas fiscally-sponsored project. Although Morgan is based in New York City, Memphis Magnetic was produced exclusively with musicians and studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Morgan has been a member of Fractured Atlas for about a year and shares how she successfully fundraised for and produced her new project.
When you’re raising money as an artist, it’s easy to spend all your energy on soliciting new donations. Whether you’re busy leveraging connections, creating crowdfunding campaigns, writing solicitation letters, crafting elegant social media communications, or all of the above, it can feel like a full-time job. Once the donation finally comes in, however, things are just getting started.