The Deal With the Arts: Finding Alternatives to Federal Arts Funding
Are you looking to plot out future funding possibilities for your art program or organization? As part of our ongoing series on government funding under the current administration, today we'll be looking at sources of funding for the arts.
While the fates of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are still up in the air, this past week brought some relatively good news: the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies has proposed cuts of only $5 million to each agency for fiscal year 2018. (Funding for each agency would be cut from $150 million to $145 million.)
This goes against the previously released White House budget, which proposed only $29 million for the NEA in 2018, which would be meant to fund a shutdown.
There are legislators on both sides of the aisle fighting for the NEA and NEH. But as mentioned in our previous installment, we need to be prepared in case the worst does come to pass.
If there are cuts at the federal level, your first instinct might be to go to the state and regional arts entities. But keep in mind that about 40% of the NEA's funding is directed toward those agencies, so they could take a hit as well. But while there might be more competition due to a decrease in funds, they are still a viable option. (The NEA has a list of all of these agencies.)
Other excellent sources of potential funding include local community foundations (which accept donations from community members), and often have funds targeted specifically toward the arts. (The Council on Foundations offers a community foundation locator on their website.)
An often overlooked potential source of support is corporations. Many larger businesses offer corporate grant programs. And even if a company won't support your program directly, they may offer sponsorships for fundraising events. Many smaller businesses that operate at a local level may also be willing to sponsor fundraisers.
And there are always private funders, such as foundations and charitable trusts. While there are thousands of these organizations throughout the U.S., it is occasionally difficult to find those that target your specific needs and location. That's why a service such as GrantStation is so useful, since it allows you to search by specific areas of interest, such as the arts, arts education, or even something as specific as theater, and by geographic location. And the service also lists organizations without websites, which are difficult to learn about even if you're the best Googler there is.
For an option that is less comprehensive, less targeted, and less user friendly, but free, check out Inside Philanthropy, which offers lists of funders in the arts, broken up into several categories.
Another excellent source for information on private arts funders and the arts grantmaking sector is Grantmakers in the Arts, a national association of public and private arts and culture funders, including independent and family foundations, public agencies, community foundations, corporate philanthropies, regranting organizations, and national service organizations. While they don't offer a grant search system, they do offer a wealth of articles and information about the sector, as well as occasional funding announcements.
Lastly, remember that your best chance for acquiring funding is to send out lots of applications. You can't win a grant if you don't apply. You may not be confident about a specific application, but the results might surprise you!
Next time, we'll be taking a look at grants targeting the environment.
Action steps you can take today
Check out your state or regional art authority.
Check out your local community foundation.
Check out small and large local businesses, including asking for fundraising support.
Get on GrantStation and look for private funders.
Check out Grantmakers in the Arts.
Apply! You can't get a grant if you don't try.
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