At Fractured Atlas, it’s an understatement to say that we deal with grants a lot.
Huge numbers of artists and creatives are out of work as a result of COVID-19. And while we recognize that grants, fundraisers, and government aid are crucial right now, we know that they aren’t sufficient for us to rebuild our sector. We need systemic change to the ways that we work together, and in the ways that we work with clients and employers. One possible structure to build systemic change is cooperatives, or co-ops. Cooperatives are formed when groups of people pool resources and share in decision-making to share in risk and reward. In co-ops, workers are the owners.
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The life of an artist can be a financially precarious one. You might be spending a big chunk of your own personal money buying supplies, traveling for research and then to show your work, or hiring outside help with funds out of your pocket to realize your vision. You might never see that money come back in the form of sales, royalties, or freelance jobs. And in case of emergency, artists are hard-hit. As we’ve seen in the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, when an emergency happens and planned contracts or shows fall through, there aren’t real safety nets for artists. There are very few formal mechanisms to support creatives and freelancers in an economic crisis, even though art has been more crucial than ever in the age of social distancing. We’ve seen tremendous and inspiring work to support artists in emergency. We’ve seen emergency grants, mutual aid funds, and spontaneous organizations of artists sharing resources and supporting each other. But we know that that isn’t enough.
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 we say that the Fractured Atlas team understands the pain of our members who have had to cancel shows and performances because of COVID-19, we mean it. When External Relations Associate Sophia Park isn’t managing grant applications for Fractured Atlas or working on other projects to help our operation run more smoothly, she curates independently and as one half of Jip Gallery. Her summer show was cancelled because of COVID-19.
Creative projects require money. You need money to rent space, hire collaborators, purchase supplies, print programs, contract web designers, and more. As an artist, you can fund your work by applying for grants, many of which will require you to be a 501(c)(3) or find a fiscal sponsor like us. You can also raise money by crowdfunding.
Right now, who knows when we will be able to safely gather to experience art together. But it will happen at some point. And we expect that there will be a tricky and confusing period where planning any kind of event feels touch-and-go, tenuous, and tentative. As artists, we’ll have to be able to make quick updates, shifts, or cancellations even more so than we might have before.
In an unpredictable world, artists need to get in the regular habit of inventorying and documenting your work. That way, if an emergency hits, you’re better prepared to get relief.
How are you doing?