Tips for Funding Community Arts Projects (When Community Building is Your Goal)

The Top 3 Considerations

  • Are people from the neighborhood intrinsically involved with the conceptual and creative aspects of the project?
  •  Is the process of doing the project given as much importance (or maybe even more) as the result?
  • Is the project guided by an artist who is from/knows the community and knows how to work with residents? Does the lead artist have the people skills needed to facilitate participation of community members and the desire to involve others?

Additional Considerations

  • Be willing to pay stipends; in some cases, this helps engage local artists and community residents and makes the difference between good and great;
  • Look for partnerships: Art projects can provide good opportunities for relationship building between organizations and additional resources for the project (via in-kind services, etc);
    Pay special attention to place-making or identity building projects; these projects often provide great opportunities for involving the community;
  • Realize that community-based art can be an important way for youth and different cultures to share with the broader community; seek ways to maximize this opportunity/broaden the audience;
  • Look for realistic and well-conceived steps for implementing the project. This helps avoid projects with good community building intentions, but, because of unrealistic expectations and the time pressures associated with a grant, result in an artist-only produced project with little community building impact;
  • Realize that community-building art projects often take more time than anticipated; be liberal in granting extensions, especially if progress is being made and more community engagement will result from a longer timeline.
  • Be open to considering different art forms – not just visual arts – with the understanding that art means different things to different people.

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