Funding your Creative Project

Top down view of laptops and mobile devices

Congratulations on your idea, and on having the confidence in yourself to now realise your project! This is already a huge first step. Once you have a clear idea of what your project is and how much it will cost to deliver, it is time to work out where that money is coming from.

Responsive Budget

As you develop a budget for your project it is important to keep in mind how you can adapt it to suit your funding your situation.  What could you cut if you don’t secure as much money as you hoped for? If you have a lucky break, what would you love to spend some extra cash on? What are the absolutely budget essential items that you couldn’t do the project without?

Remember that budgets are active documents. It is good to revisit your project budget regularly so you can update it with new information and actual spending, and make priorities and decisions based on your current context.

A Third, a Third, A Third

In general, it is best to try to aim for securing funding from a number of sources. This means that you are not relying totally on one provider (what happens if you don’t get that grant?) and are building up some economic resilience

A general goal in creative funding that you should try to aim for one third of funding coming from earned income, one third from sponsorship and philanthropy and one third from grants. This is not always achievable but is something to aspire to.

Avenues for Funding Creative Projects

Some of the most common sources of income include:

Arts-specific grants

These are offered by all levels of government (federal, state and local) so be sure to check out those relevant to where you live, work or create your art. Take a look at our list of some creative grant providers.

Other grants

Your work may have impact or engage audiences who are also of interest in other sectors – for instance, education, community services or the environment. Sometimes there may be non-arts-specific grants that you could apply for. With these types of grants, it’s good to call the grant making body to have a chat and make sure you are eligible.

Grants from philanthropic trusts and foundations

It’s important to note that this type of grant often requires you to be a not-for-profit or charitable organisation, and are rarely accessible to individuals. Again, check the eligibility criteria first.

Donations and Crowdfunding

Do you have a community of people that you think would want to help you make this project happen? There are many avenues for public donations that are open to artists to use, including Patreon, Pozible and the Australian Cultural Fund. All of these take an administration fee from any donations you raise on their site.

Other Fundraising

From a sausage sizzle through to a silent auction, think about other ways you might be able to raise funds for your project. Just a note that if you want to fundraise through things like raffles or competitions, there are regulations that govern this type of activity. You can find out more about fundraising in NSW on the Fair Trading website.

Earned Income

Can you make some income through your creative project? This could be through selling your artwork or tickets to your event or show.

Self funding

Having another income (such as from a day job) to subsidise your practice or projects can be a great option, particularly when you are starting out. You don’t have to wait for someone to ‘approve’ your project, and you have all the creative control.

In-kind support

This term refers to the donation of goods, services, labour or time to a project, rather than money. In-kind support can be a great way to reduce the costs of your project, while developing unique partnerships to support your work.

Applying for Funding 

A key part of the funding process springs from your own attitude. Creative funding is usually highly competitive, and outcomes uncertain. Don’t let this either dissuade you or generate a negative attitude. Look on funding your project as an opportunity to work on your ideas as a creator. If nothing else, the process of clarifying your ideas is an important part of creative practice. And even if you are not successful in your application, or your next application, the process of reflecting on your practice, and developing ideas, is still useful.

How to Deal with Rejection

Be prepared for rejection! Even the more successful artists often experience multiple rejections of ideas, and proposals. Use each rejection as an opportunity to:

  • Request feedback. It might feel difficult, but it shows that you are part of the game.
  • Be flexible with the idea. You want to have integrity, but also look at the ways you can maintain this and fit in with the funding criteria. This is no place for being too precious!
  • Try again
  • And again
  • And maybe even again!
  • Be sure you have investigated widely to make sure you know about a range of different funding opportunities (that are all slightly different).