Community Engagement 101

The Yes Men

Launching Succesful Community Engagement Campaigns has define the Career of Creative Capital Grantees the Yes Men

Powerful, disruptive ideas beg to be spread. Successful community engagement depends on setting clear objectives, finding your audience, and activating them. Stephanie Bleyer is a master of the community engagement campaign who runs the firm Six Foot Chipmunk. Stephanie helps artists across disciplines create strategic plans, raise funds, and reach and mobilize new audiences. On July 30, she will lead the webinar Producing & Funding Your Community Engagement Campaign. This webinar is essential for artists projects involving social justice, education, public art, or community building. It takes participants through the entire process of producing your campaign starting with letters of inquiry and grant applications all the way through to measuring impact. Artists can ask themselves these five questions as a foundation for your engagement strategy.

1) What are the social goals of my campaign?
Keep in mind that the social goals of your campaign will likely be different from the goals of your art work or overall practice. Think, “I want my audience to think about how many plastic bags they regularly take from grocery stores and ultimately reduce that amount,” instead of, “I want my project to receive awards and praise from environmental foundations and get written up in ArtForum.” Continue reading

Straight Talk About Doing Good: Five Questions For Stephanie Bleyer

Stephanie Bleyer

Stephanie Bleyer speaks to the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture in Cleveland.

Stephanie Bleyer is a project manager and founder of Six Foot Chipmunk, a boutique consultancy providing a variety of services to media-makers, artists and entrepreneurs. Stephanie’s expertise, which she shares with her clients, includes creating business plans, producing live events, managing projects and campaigns, raising funds, and overseeing communications. Stephanie leads a regular Creative Capital webinar called “Producing & Funding Your Community Engagement Campaign“, a session designed to highlight effective practices for community outreach and engagement for work that includes social justice content. 

We asked Stephanie a few questions about her own trajectory, and got her thoughts about how to raise awareness for socially engaged work in an increasingly competitive field: 

Hannah Fenlon: Your background is insanely diverse. How does the variety of work you’ve done and places you’ve been inform your work with artists? Continue reading

How to Raise Funds For Your Socially Engaged Project, Part I: Finding Foundations & Philanthropists


Pictured: Digital Farm Collective, a project by Creative Capital grantee Matthew Moore (2008 Visual Arts). The author, Stephanie Bleyer, worked with Moore to plan and fundraise for the project.

I support artists across disciplines creating social advocacy artwork. What ties them all together is that they are trying to use their creativity to affect change. I have raised millions of dollars for my clients’ production budgets and engagement campaigns––without the help of crowdfunding, which from my experience, can take over your life. In this three-part blog post, I will tell you how I do it.

A Note About Fiscal Sponsorship
If you don’t have 501c(3) status, you’ll need a fiscal sponsor to receive most grants. If you are unclear whether a sponsor is necessary, call the foundation. I once won a $400k grant for a client, which I applied for through a fiscal sponsor. I later found out that fiscal sponsorship was unnecessary for this grant.  As a result, I lost three percent of the grant to the fiscal sponsor.

In general, be prepared to turn over three to eight percent of each grant to your fiscal sponsor. Having said that, you can (and should) negotiate their percentage. Some will serve as simple pass-throughs; others will do your taxes, manage your books, review your contracts and provide backend support. My absolute favorite fiscal sponsor is Sustainable Markets Foundation. Fractured Atlas is also a good one.

Note: Some government grants will not fund a fiscally sponsored project. Continue reading