If the budget you have created for your project has come up with a shortfall it is time to look into raising additional funds for your project. Fundraising for a one-off event or tour takes tenacity but is entirely achievable. Spread your net a little wider and try and raise money from various sources and via different routes, as this will minimise the risk of not getting anything. Even small amounts are helpful, as they indicate organisations believe in your project, something, which will be picked up on positively in applications you might make to grant giving foundations.
Start by putting in some research. The internet offers a wealth of information but, additionally, pick the brains of friends and colleagues in the business and don’t forget to ask staff at the venues you are planning to work with for ideas for contributions – ‘in kind’ or cash – from local organisations.
Grants from funding organisations are a great source of additional income. In theory, the process is straight-forward: you write a funding application, explaining how deserving of support your project is, the funder agrees and an amount of money will be transferred to you. However, for this to happen, it is not enough simply to fill in the application form and write about your project eloquently – you need to see matters from the view of the funding organisation. Why does the organisation fund projects, what is their mission, what are their goals? If you read the organisation’s guidelines and understand which qualities and aspects they are looking for, you will be able to write a tailor-made application, clearly demonstrating how your project matches their priorities.
On a more basic level, it is also important to check that you and/or your project are actually eligible to apply. If most of your touring dates are in Wales you won’t be able to apply to Arts Council England, and if you need money for a studio recording there’s no point in applying for funding from an organisation, which supports live events only. Some foundations will only consider applications from organisations as opposed to individuals, but sometimes you can work around this, for example, you could write the application, including budget, but a partnering organisation, such as the performing ensemble can submit it.
It’s worth talking to people you know, who have successfully applied, as you might learn little tricks from their tried and tested methods. Some organisations, including Arts Council England, will be happy to talk matters through with you and answer any questions you might have, so it’s good idea to give them a call before submitting.
As an emerging Producer, your best bet might be to make a ‘small grant’ application to Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts scheme. The ‘small grant’ scheme provides project funding of up to £15,000 and the turn-around period (the period between you submitting the application and finding out if you’ve been successful) is only 6 weeks. Other sources you could consider are Sound and Music’s Touring Programme and the PRS for Music Foundation’s Open Funding to name but two.
If your project features work by composers and/or performers from one specific country, you could approach cultural organisations of those countries, such as the Institut Français, the German Goethe Institut, the Italian Cultural Institute, or the Austrian Cultural Forum, for support. They might only be able to support your project with smaller amounts or for specific purposes (e.g. international travel costs), but they might also help you promote your project through their channels, opening up avenues to new and different audiences.
Some local authorities run grant programmes, which you can find out about through DirectGov’s local authority grant finder. Usually the grants are only available to local organisations, but, depending on the nature of your project, might still come in useful.
Crowd funding and individual giving can also be very useful ways of raising money for your event, especially if you or your project’s partners are social media savvy. You can set up a fundraising page for your project on sites like Crowdfunder, We Did This or Kickstarter and then link your Facebook, Twitter and other social media activities to the fundraising page. Do bear in mind, though, that crowdfunding activities need to fit into the timeline of your project, so plan the starting and end points carefully.
Not everybody is happy to donate via the internet, so keep more traditional ways of paying open, by giving bank account details and information about who cheques should be made out to on all your fundraising letters/e-mails. Additionally, you could also talk to friends, family and colleagues in person and ask them to make a small donation towards your project. If you happen to know a wealthy individual with an interest in the arts it’s worth approaching them too, possibly asking them to contribute a more substantial sum of money. This works best, however, if there is a personal connection, either to your music or the theme of your project. As Composer/Producer of the Newt Project, you might, for example, have heard that a wealthy individual has a particular interest in British wildlife. Writing a passionate letter about how your composition was inspired by the British newts and wildlife would have more of an impact than a less personal letter.
Sponsorship Corporate sponsorship does exist in the arts (an example is the 30 year relationship between Lufthansa and the Baroque Festival), but for an emerging producer and a relatively small-scale project it might be hard to pull off. Corporate Sponsorship is a business relationship and a company will only part with its money, when there are tangible benefits. Some organisations are happy to support or to be seen to support the arts in general, some might look to raise their profile and improve their image simply by associating themselves with your project (but this is usually reserved for high profile events), and some large companies have funds, which support local projects as part of their corporate responsibility programme. However, generally, a company’s main aim through sponsoring a project is to increase awareness of their brand amongst a specific, and ideally large, group of people (i.e. your concert might attract highly educated and affluent audiences).
For a smaller project, your best chance for sponsorship might be not to ask for cash but for discounted or free goods or services. ‘In kind’ sponsorship is an option for organisations, which have an interest in your project but are not able or willing to contribute cash. For example, your event might feature 200 ukuleles and a ukulele manufacturing company could be interested in loaning instruments to you for free or at a much discounted rate, in exchange for their logo to be seen on all event publicity. As Composer/Producer of the Newt Project you could approach a local café, which has a wildlife theme. Instead of giving you cash, the café might be willing to provide hot meals to you and your musicians during the two days of rehearsals and the concert if you feature an ad for them in the programme sheet.