The first instalment in the blogs from the StoneCrab Gobstoppers can be read here
By Tristan Fynn- Aiduenu
It’s arguably the bane of any project or production – fundraising. Where to go? How much to ask? Who to contact? With many of us emerging artists deciding to become self-starters by putting on our own productions, we all wish we could just conjure up a step-by-step guide about how to get the financial backing we desperately need.
Through the experience of funding the Gobstoppers Festival at the Albany, a week long programme of work by us trainee directors, I can share with you some of the various ways in which we’ve have approached the difficult issue of funding and what we’ve discovered.
- Making your project clear and persuasive.
Who are you pitching your project to? It goes without saying that you need to know your project inside out. All proposals must have clear aims that partition into achievable goals. However, even more important than this is learning how to tailor your pitch to many different prospective backers with many different perspectives. For example, if you are pitching to potential backers who have a keen interest in youth work your project should sell itself with an emphasis on the benefits to young people – such as exploring related issues or attracting new audiences.
However, you’ve also got to realise when it’s not worth the time trying to crowbar yourself into a brief or ideal that just does not suit your project e.g. One potential backer had a exclusivity for projects that are based in the Westminster area. No matter how hard we tried, the links to Westminster funding were tenuous. Picking our battles gave us time to work on other parts of our fundraising strategy, rather than chasing unattainable goals.
- Plan. Plan.
Sit down as a group and mind-map ideas everyone has in terms of gaining financial backing and how best to follow these lines of inquiry. Once you’ve done this, set yourself specific deadlines and stick to them. Having something concrete to work towards helps break down the daunting task of trying to fund a large project into small, bite-size chunks. Be wary of applying to organisations during the busy Christmas period – discussions about potential proposals are likely to have taken place before this.
Even though this is one of the most accessible and widely used platforms, you must consider all the different factors of the crowd-funding site you use. The first thing to consider is if it is donation or pledge based i.e. All-or-nothing. We researched the success of both avenues and realised that the all-or-nothing approach is the one with the highest success rate. By having a fixed target and the added pressure of losing donations without reaching it you spur on both your colleagues and potential backers to meet your end target.
What are your rewards for backers? The beautiful thing about our collective is that we all possess different skills, which can be utilised as rewards for minimal cost. Yes, it’s lovely to think of things that are bespoke and individual to the backer – but also consider time and money constraints. Be creative and use the abilities of your team – but don’t promise them the world on a silver platter.
- Direct Address.
Another strategy worth pursuing is directly contacting people, with a connection to your cause, who you reckon have enough money to make a small, personal, donation to your project. These people may usually have expressed an interest in helping out similar projects in the past. Asking for even small contributions to a project can often bring delightful surprises, and hopefully make you some useful new friends! Even if no cash comes from your correspondence, making connections at this stage of careers is a must and they may remember you for another time.
5. Arts Council England
Those dreaded words. But seriously, a Grants for the Arts application is not as scary or out of reach as you might think. Yes, it’s a big form, but Arts Council England are really helpful and transparent about giving advice on how to fill it out and they make awards of £1,000 to £100,000 to anyone who uses the arts in their work. That means us. And it could mean you! You can find out more at their website. We’re still keeping our fingers and toes crossed!
I hope this guidance from peers up against similar financial constraints helps you and your creative endeavours. Happy Funding and Merry Christmas!
StoneCrab Gobstoppers Young Director’s Festival is Wed 18 February – Sat 21 February
Tristan is 20 years old and in his third and final year of study at the University of Roehampton. He will be directing ‘Little Baby Jesus’ by Arinze Kene.