Aaron Landsman

Aaron Landsman

This is a repost from Creative Capital’s Blog, The Lab, featuring tips straight from their Professional Development Program’s Artist’s Tools Handbook, a 200+ page resource, written by PDP Core Leaders Jackie Battenfield and Aaron Landsman. The book covers everything from writing to budgeting, websites to fundraising, elevator pitches to work samples.  Creative Capital supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, counseling, and career development services.

Getting Started: Almost all of your fundraising will be done through partnerships: with venues and presenters, advisory boards, and directly with funders and donors. Creative Capital advocates thorough and clear communications about money between funders, venues and artists. The better you articulate what you want, what you do and how much it costs, the better off the entire field will be. Thinking of your funders and donors as partners will help you find more opportunities and will make you easier to work with. You will be ready when a venue says, “We found a commission to apply for your project. We need 250 words and a few images. TODAY!” Conversely, if you find a funding source your partners haven’t reached out to yet, you’ll know how to help them through the necessary steps to bring more funding to your project. Partners will want to work with you again and again because you help them help you.

Sources of Support: Your methods for supporting your work will change as your career evolves, as your rate of production changes, and as your needs and priorities change. It may be that each project has several income streams, including sales, teaching, grants, and donations of goods and services. As with investments in the stock market, diversity is good: it helps build a strong portfolio. Take a look at the ten descriptions below; see if there are any new sources that you might consider using now, or as new projects arise. Read the rest of this entry »

But I Hate Asking for Money… (An EALS Post)

Posted by Steven Dawson On March - 1 - 2013
Steven Dawson

Steven Dawson

Regardless of the organizations mission, values, programs, etc., what is the ONE common factor that is needed to execute an organization’s purpose?

Money!

As much as we dislike connecting our important work to the dollar, the simple fact is that without it, we cannot pay our staffs, purchase materials, and pay the electric bills…and thus provide our services.

So there we have it, we must have funds to fulfill our missions. However, unless you are the lucky few, earned income doesn’t even come close to covering your budget. So to take the statement even further; we must have CONTRIBUTED funds to fulfill our missions.

Now with the sequestration set to go into effect, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) budget will be cut by 5%, or $7.3 million, and grants will decrease. (But let’s be honest, NEA funds have really just become a stamp of approval…and important stamp, that is…rather than actual difference-making funds).

Foundations are changing the focus of how and what they fund. And corporate philanthropy, while rebounding, will not cover the balance. So, lets take that earlier statement even deeper. We must have INDIVIDUAL contributed funds to fulfill our missions.

This can be a problem, though, because this all important aspect of nonprofit management is most likely the most uncomfortable aspect of nonprofit management. It is just human nature to avoid asking for money, even from people you know.  Read the rest of this entry »

Technology Driving Arts Attendance, Engagement, & Fundraising

Posted by John Eger On January - 8 - 2013

John Eger

In the last decade alone, any business without a web presence—without an online, interactive website—was simply, not in business. Or wouldn’t be for long. The government and nonprofit sector soon learned their way around the internet too.

Now the Pew Charitable Trusts, specifically the Pew Internet and American Life Project, in a major survey covering 2007–2011 and involving 1,256 arts organizations, reported that: “The internet and social media are integral to the arts in America.”

The survey found:

  • 81 percent of the organizations in this survey say the internet and digital technologies are “very important” for promoting the arts.
  • 78 percent say these technologies are “very important” for increasing audience engagement.
  • 65 percent say digital technologies are “very important” for fundraising.

There seemed no question that web presence was “important” or “very important” although not everyone is persuaded—yet—that an internet strategy is a priority. Those reporting also felt that such technologies “disrupted much of the traditional art world” by changing “audience expectations, put[ting] more pressure on the arts groups to participate actively in social media and in some circumstances, undercut[ting] organizations’ mission and revenue streams.” In fact, 40 percent believe that “attention spans for live performances” are being negatively impacted. Read the rest of this entry »

Has Endowment Become a Dirty Word?

Posted by Leah Hamilton On December - 13 - 2012

Leah Hamilton

Endowment. Much like the word “elite” or “patronize,” the term “endowment” seems to have acquired a negative connotation.

The traditional endowment model was sold as a core strategy of sustainability for an organization; the interest provided reliable budgetary support, and the principle was the legacy of dedicated arts patrons. But organizations began to use the fund’s annual draw in place of fundraising.

Then, when times got tough, the principle became a financial lifeline. When this happened, a new trend emerged; funders began to redirect their initiatives towards innovation and creative placemaking instead of endowment.

But, as with most trends, there are exceptions to the rule.

Springfield, MO is nationally recognized as a collaborative community, as highlighted recently by Mayor Robert Stephens on the Huffington Post. With consistent job growth in the city as well as lower than average unemployment rates, Springfield’s collaborative nature has helped the community weather the recession.

In the arts community, more than 30 local groups share The Creamery Arts Center. The 35,000-square-foot building, once home to the Springfield Creamery Co. and later the first distribution center for O’Reilly Automotive, includes administrative offices, as well as an exhibition hall, board room, arts library, arts classroom, film editing bay, a shared costume shop, and set design/fabrication studio. Read the rest of this entry »

Emily Peck

Emily Peck

The latest CECP (Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy) Giving in Numbers study, conducted in association with The Conference Board, shows that giving to the arts continues to receive 5% of the allocations from corporations. This number held steady from the 2010 study. Overall corporate giving has started to rebound as 60% of the companies surveyed gave more in 2011 than in 2009.

Companies gave larger grants to fewer organizations and often focused on a single issue area like education. Health, education, and community and economic development were top priorities for companies. Companies also focused more on employee engagement and matching gifts. 83% of companies offered a matching gift program and 85% had a volunteer program. According to Charles Moore the Executive Director of CECP, “Our analysis this year shows that companies are becoming more focused about their giving: from larger grants to a smaller number of organizations; to giving where they have community connections; to using the skills and expertise of the business to build their community engagement.”

It is great to see support for the arts holding steady but as businesses continue to look at decreasing their areas of focus and 47% of respondents expect their company’s giving to remain unchanged we need to continue making the case for the value of the arts to business. During this past year, we have compiled a number of lists to provide arts organizations and businesses with reasons on how and why to partner.

What’s better than a list? A list of lists! Here are the top 4 lists of lists (AKA the top 33 reasons/ideas/ways) to create meaningful relationships between arts and business. These sources should help you start, build and strengthen your partnerships with business.

1.    8 Reasons to pARTner with the Arts: On our pARTnership Movement website we provide 8 reasons why partnering with the arts makes business sense.
2.    10 Ideas to Create a Moment with Business: Margot Knight offers 10 suggestions for arts organizations to connect with the business community.
3.    10 Reasons to Support the Arts: In his popular blog post, Randy Cohen provides 10 reasons for businesses to support the arts.
4.    5 Ways the Arts Can Combat Flat Corporate Giving: Marisa Muller updates the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of tips for fundraisers to focus on the arts.

Which reasons resonate in your community? What are we missing?

(This post is one in a weekly series highlighting The pARTnership Movement, Americans for the Arts’ campaign to reach business leaders with the message that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. Visit our website to find out how both businesses and local arts agencies can get involved!)

 

Telling Your Story. No, Really.

Posted by Deborah Vaughn On October - 23 - 2012

Deb Vaughn

We get asked to “tell our story” all the time in the arts. Who are you? Why do you value this work? What is it that you hope to accomplish? How will you get there?

Funders demand it from grant applicants. Legislators require it of state agencies, lobbyists, and constituents. Individual artists have to do it to justify their work.

Even as a working professional, being able to concisely “tell the story” of what I do all day is an important skill, especially at family reunions, when Crazy Uncle Dave asks: “Now, what is it you do again?”

But rarely do any of us do it well. We get so wrapped up in the desired outcome of telling our story that we forget: the best way to achieve that outcome is to tell a compelling story. It’s as simple as that.

At a professional development training earlier this month, hosted by SpeakeasyDC, I was reminded of what it actually takes to TELL A STORY.

The facilitators asked us to think of a time when the arts impacted our lives.

We started by telling the story out loud to someone else (writing or typing your story will activate the “mean writing teacher” that sits on your shoulder, bogging you down in grammar and punctuation and sentence structure. Keep it verbal and keep going). This helps you and your listener determine which points are memorable and which are expendable.

Then our partner told the story back to us. See how it is no longer MY story, but THE story? That’s what we’re going for: finding a universal truth that the listener can connect to their own life. That’s the whole point to a good story. And when pitching a project to a funder, isn’t that your goal? Read the rest of this entry »

Local Arts Classroom: Stepping Outside of Your Bubble

Posted by Jenna Hartzell On October - 9 - 2012

Jenna Hartzell

When the call for applicants went out for the first ever Local Arts Classroom (LAC) program with Americans for the Arts I didn’t hesitate to apply.

I had attended the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in 2011 and returned to work thinking, “I need more.”

I felt the need to stay connected to what’s happening on a national level, but had a desire to learn more about what I should be doing as a Program Director of a local arts agency. I read blogs, followed @Americans4Arts on Twitter, and was connected on a surface level, but missed the sense of camaraderie the convention facilitated.

Enter the LAC and a chance to learn about cultural planning, making space for art, advocacy, board and staff development, fundraising, and making the case for the arts; a chance to learn with arts administrators from all over the country; a chance to absorb different perspectives and experiences of those who know what it’s like to be an arts administrator.

I say “absorb” because that was how I approached the class: to be a sponge, and absorb every concept, idea, and piece of advice I could possibly take in.

One concept that I’ve applied frequently since I graduated from LAC is one about fundraising, planning, and community:

When planning for an event or fundraiser, organizations typically take this approach:

  • Name the activity/goal/event
  • Plan
  • Execute
  • Evaluate
  • Ask: What is a success for the organization?
  • Ask: Was it a success for the community? Read the rest of this entry »

Documenting the Return On Our Investments

Posted by Robert Bush On July - 11 - 2012

Robert Bush

We love data at the Arts & Science Council (ASC).

We are fortunate to have access to resources, but we also have to make choices about how we direct them to support the sector, and research pays off every time. It allows us to connect with donors, elected officials, the chamber of commerce, and others about the impact of programs and services, as well as economic development efforts.

We are also fortunate to have the resources to commission research. For 10 years we have done a public opinion telephone survey through the Urban Institute at UNC-Charlotte. Since 2006, we have worked with WESTAF on the Creative Vitality™ Index; but, our biggest research partner has been and continues to be Americans for the Arts. Whether it is annual local arts agency surveys, past salary surveys, or United Arts Fund surveys, we fill them out.

While we love all of our partners, the most important (and requested) research we share with stakeholders is the results of our Arts & Economic Prosperity economic impact study conducted every five years.

Yes, it requires staff time to remind and nudge, coordinate audience intercept surveys, and make certain that every local cultural group had the opportunity to participate. Thanks to the vision of the North Carolina Arts Council, beginning with Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, we have statewide data and information on each of the regional economic development areas of the state.

You may think, those people in Charlotte have more money than sense to be investing in all this data, but this data gets us noticed—by donors, corporations, elected officials, chambers of commerce, and the list goes on.

I believe in art for art’s sake but I also know that numbers matter—balanced budgets, profits, and attendance figures to name a few. They help us tell our story in terms that people can understand. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Adlers

It is no surprise to anyone working in the arts and culture sector that arts organizations all around the world are consistently challenged with the task of securing new and diverse sources of funding in order to keep their lights on while fulfilling their artistic mandates. Businesses receive hundreds of requests every week from the arts sector.

Although many decision-makers in the corporate world recognize the value of the arts in the community, they are inundated with cookie-cutter, standard template proposals which are primarily focused on the needs of the arts organization, and not on how they can partner in a creative way with the businesses they are approaching.

My own conversations with executives from the corporate sector across Canada reveal that businesses which are considering supporting the arts expect to receive innovative sponsorship proposals. They are looking for creative synergies which stand apart from the pile of requests they receive every day. They expect a well-researched, professional business approach demonstrating a solid return on investment for their company, whether this means engaging their clients and employees at an event, reaching new audiences, or raising the profile of their company by being aligned with an innovative arts organization or project.

Logo recognition and tickets to events are a given, but in terms of sponsorship benefits, they are standard practice and old news. Businesses are looking for the imaginative, clever new idea which will bring them recognition as a supporter of the arts.

In Canada, our answer to these challenges is artsVest™, a unique program of Business for the Arts which combines in-depth training in sponsorship development with a matching incentive grant and a toolkit for securing and sustaining successful new partnerships, and brings local arts and businesses together at special events. Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping It Simple in a Jargon-Filled World

Posted by Chavon D. Carroll On April - 3 - 2012

Chavon D. Carroll

Have you ever tried to explain why the mirror fogs up in the bathroom when the shower is on to an inquisitive five-year-old? If so, you’ll quickly realize it’s not as easy as you’d think.

It’s one of those processes where you understand exactly how it happens and why, but explaining it in simple enough words to a child who has absolutely no idea or reference point is much harder than you would first think.

I’m often faced with this conundrum in two completely separate roles in my life—as a mother of a five-year-old daughter and as a donor marketing officer for the Arts & Science Council (ASC) in Charlotte, NC.

As odd as it may sound, those two jobs often require some of the same skill sets.

I won’t go into too much detail about my motherhood responsibilities (another day, another blog), but in my position at ASC, I’m often tasked with taking our jargon-filled massive amounts of facts and supporting statements and translating it to donors and potential donors.

It’s not exactly what it says in my job description but in a nutshell, it’s what I do. Read the rest of this entry »

Joanne Riley

The new pARTnership Movement has really resonated with the Cultural Alliance of York County (PA). Though we solicit individuals now, we started, and mostly still are, a corporate campaign for the arts.

Annually we raise $1.2 million dollars. More than 300 companies make that happen by contributing to a campaign for arts, history, and culture. That’s an incredible number considering we are a town of 44,000 and a county of about 400,000.

The founders of the Cultural Alliance were the heads of large corporations here. They supported the concept of a United Arts Fund and invested in it. We had success our first year (2000) and have continued to meet or exceed goal.

The message that we clearly stated, from the beginning, is that the arts are good for business. Though our message was not so clearly articulated as the pARTnership Movement has been, the fact is we use those eight reasons to establish the arts’ genuine ability to change our community.  Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Financial Approaches Support the Creative Economy

Posted by Max Donner On March - 6 - 2012

Max Donner

Government budget deficits and budget limits of charitable foundations have made alternatives for financing arts projects more important.

Five programs in Los Angeles this February showed that many other approaches to funding the arts can work well—and help arts organizations boost participation at the same time. Each program has taken a different approach to raising funds from private sources, demonstrating that there are many different choices that match the needs of different communities.

The Princess Grace Foundation USA celebrated its 30th anniversary with a reception for past grant winners in Beverly Hills and a gala for patrons in Orange County.  Generous contributions from patrons of the arts and several corporate sponsors have raised much of the $8.5 million in grants that the organization has awarded to promising artists and arts administrators.

But a significant source of funding for these grants comes from licensing projects and exclusive commemorative “Princess Grace” limited editions. The licensing program is highly selective and this has furthered traditional fundraising by prestigious associations with licensors, including Estée Lauder Cosmetics and Mikimoto Pearls.

Seven private companies and two nonprofit film festival organizations joined the Italian Trade Commission and public cinematic arts academy to present a weeklong festival of Italian art, fashion and cinema called “Los Angeles Italia.” Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

TalkingPointsMemo.com’s IdeaLab recently posted an article that included an interview with Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler.

In the piece, Strickler is quoted as stating,”It is probable Kickstarter will distribute more money this year than the [National Endowment for the Arts]. We view that number and our relationship to it in both a good and bad way.” (Editor’s Note: Strickler has published this post in reaction to the published interview.)

He went on to explain that it is good because it could, in theory, double the amount of art in the country, but also bad in that there is room for more federal support for the arts.

While Kickstarter, and other sites like it, have the ability to take all types of art—from comics to operas—to the next level at a time when it is hard for an artist to get funding for a small project, it’s $150 million contribution to the arts is only one quarter of one percent of what is needed annually to fund the nonprofit arts sector’s $60 billion in expenditures according to Randy Cohen, vice president of research and policy here at Americans for the Arts.

But, as Randy added, “This is a great illustration of how individuals are looking for a more personal connection and relationship when deciding where to donate, participate, and volunteer.”

The same principle applies with me as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Stop the Patchwork (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On January - 25 - 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

Our patchwork approach to providing arts education has gotta stop!

I recently read an article about a school that won a $25,000 contest by HGTV to redesign their arts room, and it actually left me upset. Why, you ask?

The short answer? I’m tired of the band-aid approach. The stop gap measures.

It’s the same reason I had to stop watching Oprah’s Favorite Things and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. For every deserving person that is honored on these shows, I know someone who is just as needy and just as deserving.

As I watched the following video about makeovers, I couldn’t help but wonder if that money could be put to better use:

What would I do with $25,000? Read the rest of this entry »

Are You Worried About Your Arts Education Program’s Future?

Posted by Mary-Helen Rossi On December - 15 - 2011

Mary-Helen Rossi

Anyone with their eyes open today can’t help but wonder if those “gloom and doomers” might at least be partly right — should we be worried for our organizations’ survival?

And if so, with many arts organizations closing their doors, what we do to keep ours open?

CREATIVE PRAGMATISM

For decades now, arts programs have gotten funded based on their case studies (we all have terrific stories, don’t we?) and assertions as to the benefits of the arts. And why not? Those benefits are real, and incredibly valuable. But case studies and avowals aren’t exactly tangible and they just aren’t cutting it any more.

TIME FOR A CHANGE?

Let’s face it — human beings do not like to change, but I’m not willing to bet I’ll be okay if I don’t, are you?

Well then, how can we change — what’s the direction to head in? Read the rest of this entry »