It’s All Downhill: Riding the Film-Finance Roller Coaster

The Yes Men

The Yes Men

On the cusp of the debut of their new film, The Yes Men (2000 Emerging Fields) have written a blog post for us detailing the various ways they have funded their feature-length projects over the past decade. From working with HBO to desperately touring Sundance to using crowd funding platforms, it hasn’t always been easy, they tell us.

We are currently preparing for a June 12 release of The Yes Men are Revolting, the third movie in a series that began fifteen years ago with a Creative Capital grant. As we gear up for the release, one of the most common questions we’re asked is how we support our work. Sadly, the answer today is more difficult and complex than ever.

In 2000, we were in the first round of awards from the fledgling Creative Capital. In hindsight, we really had no clue how lucky we were. We leveraged that grant to get a few more (NYFA Fellowships, a Herb Alpert Award, a couple of Guggenheim and Langlois grants). That covered the cost of launching a barrage of creative actions aimed at the World Trade Organization, which became the backbone of our first film, The Yes Men. The grants covered these actions, and the filmmaking costs were covered by Chris Smith, the Sundance prize-winning director who directed that movie, using his earnings from commercial work to finance it all. Continue reading

Page from our Handbook: Seeking Funding from Individuals

ASI 2012 Participants writing goals- Goal Settings exercize2c_CROPPED
Individuals donate the vast majority of funds to nonprofit organizations in America, whether it’s regular folks writing a personal check, making a monthly donation via a website, offering free services or supplies, or buying a ticket to a benefit party. Successful fundraisers devote significant time to soliciting such support; they conduct campaigns, produce special events and engage the community.

Whether you’re an individual artist going cc_icons_color-money-smallit alone or you work with a theater company or other artist collective, fundraising from individuals is increasingly important. We know it can be difficult to get started; we want to help you ask yourself the right questions so you can approach donors from the strongest position and feel secure in what you’re offering to contributors. If you’re raising funds for a socially or community engaged project, we encourage you to dig deeper with Stephanie Bleyer’s May 7th webinar, “Producing and Funding Your Community Engagement Campaign.” Read more about Stephanie here.

Getting Ready: Key Questions
As you begin thinking about your campaign, you’ll want to begin researching potential donors and strategies; deciding what donors will get when they give; and preparing to do follow-up, give thanks and keep track of donations long-term. You’ll also want to ask yourself the following questions before you ever ask anyone for anything. You don’t have to answer each one, but read through them all. They are interrelated, and together they should help you develop a strategy that plays to your strengths as a person and as an artist.
Continue reading

From Funders to Family: Five Questions for Stephanie Pereira

Stephanie Pereira

Stephanie leads a workshop on how to use Kickstarter.

Stephanie Pereira is Kickstarter’s Director of Community Education. Trained as an artist, Stephanie spent the first ten years of her career in the nonprofit arts world, before joining Kickstarter in 2011 as the Director of the Art Program. In her current role, Stephanie develops tools and resources for the creative community at-large to be able to realize their creative ideas. 

On Monday, April 27, Stephanie will join Creative Capital in our NYC office for a special live event: “Wine & Webinar: Kickstarter School.” Watch the Kickstarter School webinar on the big screen while enjoying wine, popcorn and an in-person Q&A with Stephanie after the webinar ends. Artists outside of the NYC area can register to watch Kickstarter School, a primer on how to bring Kickstarter Projects to life, from anywhere in the world.

We had a chance to ask Stephanie a few questions about her experience as an artist, curator and funder, as well as get her tips on building a strong creative community.

Hannah Fenlon: Tell me about your transition from art school to Kickstarter. How did your artistic training impact what you’re currently doing?

Stephanie Pereira: While I was in art school I realized two things. First, while I love the creative process and making art, I am not an artist. The other thing that I learned was that I loved organizing events and exhibitions with my friends. I was naturally good at it, and it gave me great satisfaction to bring more creative ideas to the world. By the time I graduated, my artistic practice had even drifted into event production, with installation work that was designed to interrogate the traditional gallery-going experience and transform space through engagement. It’s been well over a decade since I attended art school but the education I got there has stuck with me. The lens through which I look at the world is endlessly creative, project oriented, iterative and (I hope) generous. Because my school had a strong emphasis on critical theory, I am also not content to make work in my professional life that is lazy or represents the status quo.
Continue reading

Kickstarter School: Learning to Connect

Kickstarter: "Bring Creative Projects to Life"On Monday, February 2nd at 7pm EST, Kickstarter Director of Community Education Stephanie Pereira presents her “Kickstarter School” webinar, an invaluable primer on how to bring a Kickstarter project to life. Stephanie will take a look at some successful projects from across the site and explore what kind of rewards work best, how to spread the word about your project, and other helpful tips. Below, Stephanie shares a few of her notes on what makes a strong Kickstarter project, as well as examples of some successfully funded projects.

Kickstarter can be a powerful tool for artists and arts organizations. If used well, your Kickstarter project is not only an opportunity to raise money for an important project, but also a way to introduce a project to a new audience. Continue reading

A Page from Our Handbook: Writing a Proposal

Image from Matthew Moore's (2008 Visual Arts) Creative Capital Project "Digital Farm Collective"

Time-lapse footage of lettuce growing, from Matthew Moore’s (2008 Visual Arts) Creative Capital Project “Digital Farm Collective”

Every few weeks we post tips straight from the Professional Development Program’s Artist’s Tools Handbook, a 200+ page resource we give to Core Workshop attendeeswritten by PDP Core Leaders Jackie Battenfield and Aaron Landsman. The book covers everything from writing to budgeting, websites to fundraising, elevator pitches to work samples. Similarly, each post is packed with practical ideas to make your life run more smoothly, leaving you even more time for your creative practice. Learn more about our PDP workshops and webinars here.

Proposal Basics
Proposals come in many shapes and sizes: from simple fellowship applications that require a work sample, a brief description and bio, to lengthy project proposals that involve budget spreadsheets, significant writing and other supporting materials. Frequently we are creating proposals for work we have not yet completed. This means we have to find ways to make a panelist or program officer see what does not yet exist. It’s a big challenge, but a worthy one.

Continue reading

A Page from Our Handbook: Building Relationships With Funders

A still from Mondo' Bizarro's Creative Capital project "Cry You One;" photo by Svetlana Volic with WWNO New Orleans Public Radio

A still from Mondo Bizarro’s Creative Capital project “Cry You One;” photo by Svetlana Volic with WWNO New Orleans Public Radio

Every few weeks we post tips straight from the Professional Development Program’s Artist’s Tools Handbook, a 200+ page resource we give to Core Workshop attendeeswritten by PDP Core Leaders Jackie Battenfield and Aaron Landsman. The book covers everything from writing to budgeting, websites to fundraising, elevator pitches to work samples. Similarly, each post is packed with practical ideas to make your life run more smoothly, leaving you even more time for your creative practice. Learn more about our PDP workshops and webinars here.

The road to success involves more than a single application and a ‘yes’ or ‘no‘ response. With grantmakers and donors of all stripes you’ll need to build relationships, just as you would when working with other partners—venues, galleries or collaborators. Funders and donors talk to each other and change jobs. Similarly, a regular contributor may love your work enough to bring friends and potential contributors to your next show—all you have to do is ask! The great impression you make on one funder may not yield immediate results, but it may help you down the line. Continue reading

A Page From Our Handbook: Intro to Funding for Art Projects

Doheel Lee (2013 Performing Arts), The Mago Project

Doheel Lee (2013 Performing Arts), The Mago Project

Every few weeks, we’ll be posting tips straight from the Professional Development Program’s Artist’s Tools Handbook, a 200+ page resource we give to Core Workshop attendeeswritten by PDP Core Leaders Jackie Battenfield and Aaron Landsman. The book covers everything from writing to budgeting, websites to fundraising, elevator pitches to work samples. Similarly, each post will be packed with practical ideas to make your life run more smoothly, leaving you even more time for your creative practice. Learn more about our PDP workshops and webinars here.

Getting Started: Almost all of your fundraising will be done through partnerships: with venues and presenters, advisory boards, and directly with funders and donors. Creative Capital advocates thorough and clear communications about money betwen funders, venues and artists. The better you articulate what you want, what you do and how much it costs, the better off the entire field will be. Thinking of your funders and donors as partners will help you find more opportunities and will make you easier to work with. You will be ready when a venue says, “We found a commission to apply for your project. We need 250 words and a few images. TODAY!” Conversely, if you find a funding source your partners haven’t reached out to yet, you’ll know how to help them through the necessary steps to bring more funding to your project. Partners will want to work with you again and again because you help them help you.

Continue reading

Bringing Creative Capital’s Core Workshop to Milwaukee Artists

Workshop Participants outside the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design

When the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) in Wisconsin first considered hosting a Creative Capital Core Workshop, they knew the biggest hurdle to overcome would be communicating the true value to local funders. While MARN does offer professional development workshops to its 200 or so members, it had never attempted to coordinate a three-day immersive workshop like Creative Capital’s, which came with a higher price tag than MARN’s standard offerings.

“We offer a variety of programs—portfolio review, bookkeeping, some very basic things. But this just took things so much farther,” said Jeanne Olivieri, MARN’s Board Secretary. “Bringing Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program to MARN was a very unusual and very important thing for us. It was also something we had no prior knowledge about how to plan for.”  Continue reading

How to Raise Funds for Your Socially Engaged Project, Part 3: Funding from Other Sources

Stephanie Bleyer presenting at the 2013 Creative Capital Grantee OrientationStephanie Bleyer presenting “Fundraising 101″ at the 2013 Creative Capital Grantee Orientation

In the first post in this series, I shared my tips for finding foundations and philanthropists to support your socially engaged art projects, and in second I offered suggestions for writing and submitting the proposal. This post will cover other ways to source funding for your project.

Individual Giving
I’ve yet to meet an artist who is comfortable asking for money. If it makes your skin crawl, here’s an easy alternative: When you meet a potential donor, ask them to invite some friends over and host a gathering for you at their house or office. You can help them organize a salon discussing the issues in your project, you can show a screening of your film in progress or a preview of your next installation. At the event, you do not have to ask their friends for money. Be prepared to stand up and present your project and, more importantly, the issue you hope to affect. This is called a “friendraiser.” Collect cards and follow up with these new “friends” after the event is over.

If you’re on the festival circuit or you’re touring a show, take advantage of each city you’re visiting and find someone to host a gathering while you’re in town. I prioritize getting my clients into festivals in second-home communities like Palm Springs, Fire Island, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Once we’re in, we work our network to find someone to host an intimate gathering for the filmmaker. If you want to be even more focused, target second-home communities that will be most interested in your issue. For example: if the project is about the Chinese-LGBT community, I’ll try to set up parties in the most popular second-home communities for Chinese-LGBT. This may seem a no-brainer, but over and again folks I work with are missing this opportunity. Continue reading

How to Raise Funds for Your Socially Engaged Project, Part 2: Writing the Proposal


Still from the film American Promise, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2013. The author, Stephanie Bleyer, produced a transmedia engagement campaign for the film.

In my last post, I shared my tips for finding foundations and philanthropists to support your socially engaged art projects. This post will cover writing and submitting the proposal, and what to do after you get the grant (we know you will).

Writing The Proposal
Here are just a few generalities to keep in mind when you start writing:

  1. Don’t say it’s urgent. It’s probably not. Unless you’re a few dollars away from curing cancer, no need to use the “now or never” card.
  2. For the most part, don’t write in first-person singular. Exceptions include individual fellowship applications.
  3. Don’t say that all you want to do is raise awareness. If that’s your goal, don’t ask for engagement funding.
  4. Save the art-speak for your next book. If your proposal is so muddled with art-speak that the funder can’t understand what you actually propose to do, you’re not going to get funded.
  5. Personalize the proposal. Don’t submit a template. Show them you’ve done your homework and that you know exactly what they fund and why you are a perfect fit for them.
  6. If you have to fill out an online form, copy and paste all of the questions from the form into a Word document so you can work off-line and not risk losing your master draft. Continue reading