Get Something For Nothing: Funding for Arts Month in June



Think you can’t get anything for free these days? In June the Foundation Center, a nonprofit authority on institutional philanthropy, is hosting “Funding for Arts Month.” Throughout the month, the center will offer a range of arts-related programs, publications, and web-based content and services tailored to those seeking grants in the arts. In addition to the materials offered online, the center’s five libraries–in New York, Atlanta, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.–will host special events and workshops. For individuals seeking financial support but overwhelmed by the process of applying for it, the Foundation Center can be a source of information and guidance.

Of particular interest to the web-savvy of the arts community, the center will offer artists access to several online resources free of charge. That includes access to their recently launched “Foundation Grants to Individuals Online,” a searchable database of close to 4,800 foundation programs that award grants to individuals, especially valuable now that many funders have turned to supporting institutions rather than playing patron directly to artists. The database is designed to help students, researchers, and artists locate information on funding sources for further study and project support.

A subscription to the service is normally $9.95 each month, but that fee will be waived for all those who register as artists in June. Beverly McGrath, the Center’s Marketing Manager, points out that even the subscription fee is still a whole lot less than the $75 you might spend on a book or CD-ROM for access to the same information.

The site encompasses creative activities of all kinds. Though opportunities for composers are not on the same scale as some of the other arts, new records are continually added and updated. A search for “composition” turned up 26 entries out of the database’s total catalogue. The general term “music” netted a more encouraging 156 records, many not specifically for composers but not restricted either. Most appear to be scholarship based. Funding for activities other than study are more limited overall. Still, McGrath notes that even if the service turns up a few opportunities, “that’s still five or six viable leads more than you had before.”

The center’s User Aid for Musicians page offers further information and links to the wide-ranging selection of Web content, events, and publications surrounding “Funding for Arts Month.” A special arts funding issue of Philanthropy News Digest will be released each week in June focused on arts-related content: requests for proposals, interviews with prominent newsmakers in the arts, book and Web site reviews, and a “Spotlight” on arts nonprofits. Other online features will also appear throughout the month on all Foundation Center library home pages, profiling local grantmakers in the arts, announcing arts grants that have made a difference in the region, and spotlighting arts-related local nonprofits and their funding needs.

In addition, the center will offer a free download of Arts Funding Update, a new four-page study that describes the latest trends in giving in the arts and will introduce “ArtsTalk”– an arts funding discussion forum for individuals and people representing arts organizations to share strategies and tips.

The Foundation Center’s primary mission is “helping grantseekers succeed,” and they see these month-long, industry-specific events as a way to help reach that goal in a targeted way. Ultimately the nonprofit partially supports itself on the sale of its collected information, so all content cannot be offered free of charge, McGrath says. But she does hope the June events will give artists the chance to find out without financial risk if the Foundation Center can be of use to them.