Resources Abound for Finding Arts Grants

Connexeo - 03/13/2018

Obtaining funding to facilitate growth of a community arts organization doesn’t have to be like finding a needle in a haystack. Groups looking for financial backing to complement their sweat equity need only to know where to look.

Finding agencies that offer arts grants is the easy part, though. Winning the funding is the hard part, since there is a lot of competition for each particular grant.

One strategy could be to start locally, then branch out if needed. Many cities, counties and states have arts commissions that can provide public funds to meet an organization’s specific needs. Some grants will help pay for a specific performance, and others could simply serve as an investment in the initiative.

State arts commissions’ websites can serve as an invaluable reference to communities that offer and have received grants. If the particular community served doesn’t have an arts commission, talk to the mayor, city manager or a city counselor about establishing one. Or, ask if the budget can accommodate a small grant.

These state agencies often serve as a clearinghouse for local grants. The city can apply for grants for specific instances. For example, if your group wants to hang an artist’s exhibition in the public library or bring in a musician to play at the civic center, state grants can help pay the honorarium.

Governmental grants also extend to the federal level, through the National Endowment of the Arts.

The NEA funds specific projects  instead of organizations. One of its grants, “Challenge America,” provides a $10,000 matching grant to projects that extend the arts to underserved communities. “Our Town” matching grants of $25,000-$200,000 for projects that “contribute to the livability of communities and through strategies that leverage arts, culture and/or design toward achieving community goals.”

Leaving the public realm, grant-seeking groups can look to several independent foundations and other charitable endeavors. Two that stand out are the Foundation Center and, for those taking the stage, the National Theater Project and the National Dance Project, both run by the New England Foundation for the Arts, though their scopes are national.

The Foundation Center is a subscription service, so organizations must make sure they have relatively good chances to get funding that will make up the cost of subscribing. For the price, arts groups can receive profiles of more than 100,000 grant-makers and other information to determine the best places to apply.

The National Theater Project’s mission is to “promote the development of artist-led, ensemble and devised theater work while extending the reach and life of these projects through touring.” While community theater companies that perform in one place may not meet the requirements, these grants provide the opportunity to stage a show in multiple places and have the travel paid for.

The National Dance Project, on which the National Theater Project was based, provides grants for dance troupes to create new dance works and take them on tour. The awards can be generous – up to $45,000 to create a new work, about $10,000 in operating support and up to $35,000 to support a U.S. tour.

Money is out there for organizations willing to take the time to find it.




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