Funding Opportunities for Artists

With limited methods for the accurate tracking of individuals with arts as their primary income source, estimated figures of total US working artists (from literary to performing, cultural and visual) are around 1.4 million.

It’s often very difficult for working artists to conveniently finance the creation, exhibition, and marketing of their arts thanks to their relatively low earnings. This makes them almost always in need of financial support for art materials, fabrication costs, travel, studio space, exhibition, marketing, and other expenses.

Although most foundations generally provide grants to nonprofit organizations only, artists are the exception to this rule as fellowships and grants are a very popular source of their funding amongst others cited below;

Fellowships and Grants

Often provided by private foundations and a few art agencies (publicly funded), the funds can take care of fees and other expenditures giving the artist freedom to worry only about creativity. Grants are generally competitive and provide assistance of different terms such as the awarded amount, procedures for application, stipulations etc. Some are much more restricted than others with eligibility and openness varying from nomination and application, to need or being awarded as a for a particular competition.

Artist Residencies

This funding opportunity for artists usually requires displacement from normal obligations and environment to benefit from studio space, housing, living stipends, and travel often provided in Residencies.

Fiscal Sponsorship

Contracting with a non-profit for fiscal sponsorship when having projects related to their mission can provide a valuable funding opportunity for artists. This fiscal sponsorship relationship implies the artist makes use of the tax exempt status of the sponsor to solicit for charitable contributions which are tax-deductible.

Free or Discounted Services

Certain organizations and agencies are dedicated to making health care, tax and legal services particularly available to cash-strapped artists facing hard times. Some of these services are provided at discounts with others being totally free.

Even with the existence of numerous funding opportunities for artists such as cash grants, internships, employment and residencies, understanding eligibility issues and qualification requirements is very important and should be given enough attention. Poor proposals account for many artists being overlooked for funding. So, amongst the important activities like research for valuable information, hiring the services of a qualified grant writer will definitely have great enhancement effects on the chances of an artist to be selected for funding because his/her proposals are prepared with professional experience.

Although eligibility is by nomination only, the MacArthur Fellowship and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant are amongst the most valuable and prestigious awards to support artists. With a wide range of different requirements for eligibility, examples of leading artist grant opportunities available for open application include;

The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences

For: Awesome projects

Time: Awarded monthly. Applications are rolling

Value: $1,000

This Foundation is a group of small philanthropists awarding monthly micro-grants of $1,000 to individuals who have awesome ideas. The grant for every chapter is donated by 10 trustees, $100 each for scientific, artistic and/or social projects. Previous “awesome” beneficiaries include a phone book farm in Ottawa, a pipe organ (portable), and a Boston giant hammock. There are no eligibility restrictions for this awesome grant.

Brooklyn Arts Council Grants

For: Enthusiasts in G train

Time: Late summer, annually

Value: Average between $1,700 and $2,100

This grant is open to artists based in Brooklyn. It rewards projects with public component funding. It covers dance and theater productions, gallery exhibitions, musical concerts, films, workshops, installation of public arts, screenings and curatorial projects. With about 30 – 40 % of applicants usually benefiting from at least some funding, chances of getting assistance upon application are very high. Eligibility requires artists with proof of residence in Brooklyn.

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation

For: Painters, drawers, printmakers, and sculptors

Time: No deadlines

Value: Depending on the circumstances particular to the artist ($5,000 – $20,000)

This foundation, started by Jackson Pollock’s widow, Lee Krasner, who is also an Abstract Expressionist painter awards grants at all times within the year to artists. Applicants are required to be of financial need while possessing and demonstrating peculiar artistic talent with their recent works in galleries, museums and/or exhibition spaces. Examples of Individuals of note who have received this grant include Zoe Leonard, Jane Benson, Valerie Hegarty, Thornton Willis, Alyson Shotz.

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship

For: New York based writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians

Time: annually

Value: $7,000

With ever changing categories and mediums every year, this grant is the Holy Grail for New York based artists. Artists from a wide range of disciplines receive cash awards through the NYFA fellowship without restrictions on how they will be used. Five categories are open for applications each year. Examples of notable grantees include; Zhou Long, Jennifer Egan, Doug Aitken, Barbara Kruger, Todd Haynes, Junot Diaz; Spike Lee, Marilyn Minter, Christian Marclay.

There exist many other accessible national and international grants, fellowships and other funding opportunities for artists which are general or speak to particular groups like disciplines, location, race, sex, religious belief, ethnicity, political background etc. Finding the ideal one only requires proper research and application or follow up.

Hosting an Event

Many people go to all of the events that are held here at the University of West Florida but they don’t understand the hard work that goes into planning and hosting an event on campus. This requires a great deal of work and you have make sure that your vision is understood, so that your plan can be executed perfectly by your team and the organization that is assisting you. There are many steps that you must follow in order for your event to be successful and this rubric will help you insure this.

Create a team: Make a team of individuals with the same mindset and goal as you, and who are willing to be creative and innovative.

Set a Date: You and your team that you have constructed must come up with a date that is convenient for majority of those involved and the students. This is very important because the students have exams to study for and there are many students that are involved in other organizations and sororities, so you have to insure the date is one that will fit majority of the student’s schedule.

Appointment: First impressions are everything for many people and the idea that you have for an event on a University Campus may be great but you must get the approval of management. In order to reserve a spot on the campus of the University of West Florida you have to present your idea to the building managers of the University commons. The managers will decide whether they will approve your event or not, so you have to prove that your event follows the standards of the University and won’t cause any disturbance.

Location: The location is something that very few people may think about but in many cases this could be the single most important thing because if the location of the event is attractable for those that were invited as well as those that weren’t that’s a bonus. When trying to choose a location, you must consider the amount of people that will be able to view the event and attend.

Promotion: Marketing the event is very imperative you and the team that you have created must decide how you will promote the event. With the emergence of social media makes promotion much easier but the traditional method of passing out flyers is very useful because it gives individuals something physical that may cause them to attend the event because it’s convenient for them at that time. Nobody wants to host an event that doesn’t have anyone show up, so out of all the steps this may take the most work but it will pay off for you in the end.

Music: The music is something that isn’t a necessity but it is another way to attract students and will keep the spirits of the participants up. You must ensure that the music is generic and is suitable for all audiences.

Activities: You and your team have to think of activities that will keep the participants occupied and interested while the event is going on. There are many contest that can occupy the participants but choosing an activity that everyone is familiar with would be the best option which should make the participants enjoy themselves while at the event.

Food: Make sure you have food that most are familiar with. The university is filled with diversity which you must always remember.

Time: Choose a time that is convenient for most students.

The Old Diviner

The Old diviner

My father had a geologist friend who knew of my interest in crystals and attractive pieces of coloured ore. He was going on a day’s journey into the bush with an old water diviner to site a new mine. My father asked if I could go with. I didn’t like the geologist, I felt that he considered me to be a burden, but I wanted to go deep into the bush. I wanted to see wild animals and find wonderful crystals. Most of all I wanted to see a hyena. The start of the journey was exciting, it was my type of bush – thick forests and open vleis (seeps) – but the dense forest soon petered out. Village charcoal burners had thinned the forests to make charcoal to sell across the border in the Congo. On the way there I was sitting straight, looking out for wildlife – but I saw nothing. The area had been hunted out long before. There were no crystals to be found either, and the geologist sarcastically said, ‘elephants and crystals don’t grow on trees sonny – anyway this bush is dead.’

Only a prig like you would say something like that, I thought. I had learnt the word prig from a Somerset Maugham story about an arrogant rubber plantation manager in Malaya. I liked both the sound and meaning of it. I could name a few prigs in Luanshya. The geologist was added to my prig list. The day was tedious and uneventful. On the way back I was tired. We had been out nine hours. I flopped back in my seat on the point of dragging my musings into a funk hole – I was told I was very good at that. The old water diviner, an Afrikaner who had been raised in the Karoo desert, the driest part of South Africa, must have sensed my gloom for he started telling me stories.

He told me he was able to find water with two copper rods, but that he could also divine with two green sticks. The geologist, who was actually doing the groundwork for a modern hydrological survey, respected the water diviner and his methods. They often yield interesting results, and had brought him along ‘out of interest’, so he said.

The diviner went on to tell me that contrary to what you see and think you know, Africa does not always deliver what you would expect. Even if you had prior knowledge as to what should happen – it might not happen. He said he used this way of thinking when he was divining for water. Underground water was never a given – Africa had many dry rivers both above and below the ground. He then fell into a preoccupied silence as he groped for his tobacco in a canvas bag under his seat. What was this wizened old man with tobacco stains on his teeth and fingers telling me? I guessed it was going to be interesting. Then he looked at me, and cleared his tarred throat; it was as if he was about to give a wedding speech. His pupils were glistening black diamonds in the wrinkled recesses of his eye sockets as my curiosity took a strong hold.

Out of earshot of the prig steering his rattling Land Rover, the diviner told me that in Africa, physical things could suddenly appear and then just as quickly disappear. ‘But they did nothing of the sort’ he said with a confident snort. ‘It was the way we were looking at them that made these strange things happen. Everything had an energy of its own which could never be lost – it merely altered its shape in time and space.’ Nodding in mused self-agreement, he then kept quiet for a good while. ‘Energies are like hyenas,’ he finally uttered. Wow! Now I really was all ears. I really wished I had a grandfather like him. With slow forceful words he continued, ‘An area could have no hyenas – then suddenly out of nowhere, one would appear.’ If someone in a remote village had been cursed; that night, without a single pug mark on the sandy floor of the village clearing, a hyena would appear at his door – even though hyenas had not been seen or heard of in the area for a very long time. ‘This was because the hyena had always been there,’ he said with a smug air of all-weather assurance.

True to form, the prig appeared oblivious to our important conversation, his mind doggedly fixed on the bumpy road that was pulling his vehicle to pieces. Once again I was sitting upright looking for hyenas in what remained of once thick Miombo woodlands while the old diviner spoke. My ears were pricked, my eyes peeled and my skin bristled – my bony little bum hardly made an indent on the green canvas of the backseat. Out there in the failing forest light I was hyper-sensitized to everything real and imaginary. I knew that hyenas were tribal omens for very important things in Africa, that’s why the Nyau and the Makishi only used effigies of hyenas in their most serious rituals. There was no logical reason for a hyena not to re-appear in the ‘dead’ bush, in the immediate here and now of our homeward journey in the prig’s rattle wagon.

The diviner continued: ‘Hyenas are a mystery to their fellow beasts. They can eject an aardwolf, an aardvark, or even a bad tempered honey badger from its burrow in an anthill, commandeer it, and with the collusion of the termites; do the strangest of things.’ Now I was nape hair erect and alert! My mind ran wild, throwing my thoughts all over the back seat and floor of the vehicle as it trundled down that remote dirt road. The light was receding fast and Mr ‘Cool’ the geologist put his foot on the accelerator of his ‘Landy.’ The diviner fell into another one of his tobacco chewing silences and I started to ruminate over things – I took as long as it took for him to suck on nicotine: spit spent tobacco, and pick his cracked lips free of the soggy shreds. Whatever it was that crept through his well-seasoned mind was worth waiting for.

‘Lion, in particular,’ he said, ‘despise hyenas, and will hunt them down and kill them – sometimes heartlessly killing hyena pups in the den so as to curb the number of hyenas in their territory.’ When being chased by a lion, he explained, a hyena would disappear down a burrow in an anthill and never come out. The lion would give an eerie howl of frustrated annoyance, but no matter how long a lion waited; even if a pride of lions took turns to be on guard for a month, the hyena would never come out – this was because the hyena was no longer there. ‘When a hyena takes over a burrow in an anthill,’ he said, ‘it is his intention that his mind and body be melted down by a sea of termites.’ This was very different to a dead animal being eaten by red ants. It was the morphing of the hyena into an aethereal life force that parasitically attached itself to all members of the termite Queendom. After an uncanny gulp of held breath he explained further; the termite mind is a collective mind, it thinks as a one mind spreading and sharing its synaptic thought processes between Queendoms right across subterranean Africa. Because the hyena had slyly embedded his spirit into this endless termitine mind – their ‘everywhere’ and their consequent awareness of all bush goings-on had unavoidably become his for his own perverse machinations. By the same willed intent, he would then coalesce his virtual spirit-being out of the termite world and back into his physical reality: to resurface wherever he felt his real presence was needed – or not needed, as in the case of the lion.

And with that, the old diviner returned to his tobacco pouch, leaving me to digest his awesome words.

What could have been a tedious journey home, flew by. The long edges of evening shadows melted into a deep velvet of forest dark; there to be sown up for the night with thin threads of wood smoke from village charcoal burners along the roadside. Soon we would be back in Luanshya with its cheery electric light windows and warm tarmacadam roads. Once home I asked my father to offer the old diviner a beer and a lift home – which he graciously accepted; luckily the prig was in a hurry to get back and write his report. For me it was an unwilling quick bath with Dettol, a willing fish finger and tomato sauce sandwich, and bed. I did not really object.