All newcomer arts groups need funding and support at some point to maintain and grow their activities and promote their artisans’ professional development. Funding and support can come in many different forms, including financial donations, grants, community partnerships, volunteer hours, advocacy, meeting space, storage space for raw materials, or in-kind assistance with online sales or social media marketing, just to name a few. And of course, groups receive a wealth of support from their facilitators, who bring all of these elements together for the benefit of the group.
It is true that researching and contacting sources of funding and support can be challenging and time-consuming. Be creative and resourceful, and when asking for funding and support, always be specific about exactly what your group needs. Since no two groups are at the same point in their development, each group must be creative in seeking its own diversified sources of funding and support from local, regional, and national sources and partnerships.
It is worth keeping in mind that some of the national sources of funding are more likely to fund projects focused on economic development with specific timeframes, goals, and measureable outcomes than providing funds for operating costs, raw materials, or projects of an undetermined length or outcome. Since project-based funding is usually granted for a limited period of time, it is important for groups to strive towards self-sufficiency by developing the skills of their artisans and facilitators so that the group becomes sustainable and is not entirely dependent upon ongoing funding for its day-to-day operations. According to a 2013 report for the American Folklore Society, groups should work towards "sustaining culture in ways that can also be economically beneficial to communities, finding ways to frame traditional cultural knowledge in different settings, and simply learning about resources available to traditional artisans" (p. 3).
I have compiled a list of suggestions, best practices, and sources of funding and support below. Some of these sources might exist in your local area and state, and others might not, so it is important to do a bit of research to see what’s available in your community. Remember, be creative and resourceful, and focus on developing meaningful and collaborative partnerships to meet your group’s funding and resource needs. As Kathleen Mundell, folklorist with the Maine Arts Commission, said during a recent interview, “Establishing connections are just as important as funding. Once you meet people, develop relationships, and establish a level of trust, everything else falls into place.”
Based on my extensive research and interviews with newcomer arts groups nationwide, as well as a number of folklorists, here is a list of sources of funding and support that groups are currently using. For specific examples, see the various narratives about newcomer arts collectives, sustainable models, and support models in the menus above.
Local sources of funding and support:
Regional and statewide sources of funding and support:
National and online sources of funding and support:
As a community of newcomer artisans, we need more discussion around the topic of obtaining funding and support. What sources of funding and support has your group obtained, and what recommendations would you give to other groups seeking support? Please feel free to post your comments, ideas, and suggestions in the moderated forum below.