Dreams, schemes, hustles: how to get arts funding

From the traditional (Arts Council) to the new (crowd-funding), there are many routes to success

Make no mistake: a successful online fundraising campaign involves a lot of work

Make no mistake: a successful online fundraising campaign involves a lot of work

 

Whatever your discipline of choice – be it visual arts, music, theatre, literature, dance or film – getting a project up and running can always be a challenge, especially for those new to the game. Here are suggestions to get you started.


Go to the Arts Council
It is best to have something substantive under your belt before you undergo the Arts Council application process. And never underestimate the power of an impressive application when it comes to attracting funding – talking it is as important as walking it.

Check artscouncil.ie regularly to find out about new initiatives and opportunities; additionally, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
(artscouncil-ni.org) offers funding opportunities to those north of the Border. If film is your thing, look to the Film Board instead.


Go to your local authority arts officer (or arts service)
While the Arts Council can seem like a faceless behemoth, the purpose of local authority arts officers is to work directly on your behalf, offering support, guidance and pointers to artists seeking to make projects happen. Find out who the arts officer is in your local authority (the Arts Council website offers a comprehensive list, plus contact details) and schedule a sit-down meeting.

Tell them who you are and what you want to do. Local authorities also have grant schemes for artists. While often modest, these tend to be more accessible to nascent talent and don’t rely upon elaborate criteria for qualification.


Hit up your local arts centre
A legacy of the boom is the elaborate network of arts centres that have established themselves nationwide, many offering state-of-the-art facilities, primarily gallery and performance spaces.

Most importantly, however, they offer a vital context for artists, especially in rural areas, where they have become essential hubs for artistic endeavour. What they don’t have these days is any money; as a potential resource, however, they remain invaluable.

Get scheming
At any given time, there are any number of schemes, initiatives and competitions, local, national and international, designed to reward creative endeavour, both large and small – this is where keeping an ear to the ground (virtual, or otherwise) comes in.

Regrettably, you’ve just missed your chance to submit to the Arthur Guinness Projects, which will invest €3 million in projects over the next three years. That said . . .
Shamelessly work the angles
Constant research is essential, as opportunities are everywhere. Are you an artist working in the Irish language? Foras na Gaeilge (gaeilge.ie) has a number of grants available to those who “aim to foster and promote, through Irish or bilingually, Irish-language arts, indigenous arts and Irish language”.

Does your project have a community context? Then you might want to touch base with Create Ireland (create-ireland.ie), the national development agency for collaborative arts in social and community contexts.

Does your project relate to issues concerning the peace and reconciliation process? Then you might want to seek funding via the EU Peace III programme.

There is any number of potential international funding opportunities available to Irish artists, via organisations such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (gulbenkian.org.uk) and the Ireland Funds (theirelandfunds.org). Dream big and think laterally.
Depend upon the kindness of (virtual) strangers
Online funding platforms are an immediate and user-friendly way to source finance for arts projects big and small, and a readily available option to nascent talents willing to put the hustle on.

Make no mistake, however, a successful online fundraising campaign involves a lot of work. On a local level, the scale of arts projects seeking finance via fundit.ie is steadily rising, with an increasing number of established organisations and individuals signing up. But if you’re committed to putting the hustle on, this is a valid proposition.


Do it the old-fashioned way
Beg, borrow or steal – all right, maybe not steal – to make your project happen. Ultimately, you’re investing in yourself, and convincing others to do likewise. Take the leap.

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