Applying for grants as an artist can be challenging. It can be time consuming and hard. It can sometimes feel like you’re sending out applications into a void never to hear back from funders. If you are consistently not receiving funding that you’re applying for, you might not even know why.
Some artists want to make art for art's sake and don’t want or even need other people to see it. Abstract artist and mystic Hilma af Klimt didn’t want people looking at her visionary paintings until 20 years after her death, for instance. But for the rest of us, we want our art to be seen! We want people to come to our performances, to our gallery shows, to listen to our podcasts, to read our poetry.
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Not every artist has the luxury of making art whenever inspiration strikes. Most artists are juggling other jobs – sometimes full-time jobs – plus other responsibilities like taking care of children or elders. It can be hard to find time to make your work, or to justify spending time on your creative endeavors. As a fiscal sponsor and artist membership organization, Fractured Atlas is dedicated to providing artists with tools to help you find more time and energy to do your artwork. We want more artists to make more work. Even when things are bad, we need art and we need artists. Plus, as artists ourselves, we feel the struggle between our creative work, our careers, and the rest of our lives!
It’s not easy for anyone to talk about money.
Artists often need help with money. It’s not because artists are necessarily bad with money, it’s just that money tends to be extra complicated for creatives. You might be balancing multiple freelance jobs, running a small business, hiring freelancers yourself, processing tickets and donations, renting equipment, and juggling multiple recurring payments for tools like fiscal sponsorship, a website, and more.
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?
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.
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.