Words and images : Kate Dunstone
Level 6 Unit X students had the opportunity to attend an in-depth workshop with Hen and Emilia from a-n, all about fundraising for creative projects. Focusing on two major funding avenues, crowdfunding and proposal writing, the session was full of useful tips and helpful information.
Arts producer Hen Norton introduced us to crowdfunding, as not only a method of fundraising but also network building. Hen also underlined the potential of crowdfunding as a method for understanding practice in a three strand model, comprised of the creative idea, money and funding, and the network and community around it.
Crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter, are founded on the principle that ‘anyone can invest in art and make art happen’, and Hen emphasised the importance of offering rewards that give an insight into the process of making art. She also, however, stressed that ‘you shouldn’t give away your product’, and keep in sight the value of yourself and your art.
Next, artist Emilia Telese spoke about the relationship between artists and finance, focussing on strategies for writing effective funding proposals. Key to Emilia’s strategy was one simple phrase, ‘being an artist is a profession’, and again, being aware of the value of your work. Eye-opening stats underlined this, for example art is one the UK’s largest exports, however 50% of art organisations don’t pay artists.
Emilia also advised that the most valuable thing artists can do is find their voice, as this is what curators, galleries and organisations want to hear. The next step, logically, is then to get your work seen as widely as possible, from taking professional photographs of samples to blogging and building a website.
After absorbing all this information students were then asked to follow Emilia’s Atomic System for writing artist’s proposal. A kind of expanded mind mapping, this encouraged students to think critically about projects they are working on, and consider them from different angles. After working on their maps, students commented that this ‘helped [them] consider planning ahead’, and ‘highlighted what areas to push further’, as well as ‘helping to understand the project better’.
Hen finished the session with final tips for crowdfunding. She emphasised the need to be realistic with funding targets and rewards, and putting energy into funding bids to get results out. Summing up the central message of the session she closed by saying ‘it doesn’t matter what fundraising method you use, your story is the key’.