Patrons and Sponsors are More Than a Myth…

An artist friend of mine, Lexi, came to me not long ago in disbelief. She had heard rumors while she was in school that patrons and sponsors did in fact exist, but she honestly had a hard time getting her mind around the concept. It seemed so, well, two centuries ago.

It wasn’t until one of her friends told her that he actually had a patron who had funded his last several big projects and who chipped in for his studio costs that Lexi decided she needed to find out more. Her friend, an artist with around the same amount of experience and education she had, had just returned from the Venice Biennale full of stories and excitement. He was about to embark on a very large piece that was already mostly funded.

Lexi was honestly a bit incensed listening to this. She had struggled to stay afloat for ages, barely making rent most of the time and working more than one job even during school and there was never any money left for her art. And here was this guy–granted he was still working hard to make ends meet– with some random stranger paying for his art? It just didn’t seem fair…or even plausible.

After we talked, Lexi and asked her friend how the heck he found this person to fund him. His answer was pretty similar to what she and I had talked about and it gave her the boost she needed to consider some big steps.

Finding patrons and sponsors can be a great way to supplement your artistic funding. There are some approaches that can help you have a better chance when it comes to actually getting a foot in the door.

  1. A good first step is to come up with a list of potential patrons and sponsors. Think outside your usual circle, come up with a list of people who not only have the means to potentially support you but have the motivation. Delving into museum boards is one way to start.

2. Reach out to the people on your list. While an email is, of course, the go-to method these days, sending a beautiful a handwritten letter can sometimes set you apart from the rest.

3. Engage potential patrons and sponsors face to face if possible. Invite them for studio visits so they can get an idea of who you are as an artist. Be sure that these visits are not sales pitches, you aren’t necessarily looking for someone to purchase your art here, rather someone who might want to help fund your studio or back individual projects. These people can be found at museum openings and related events to museums.

Finding patrons and sponsors might be easier than you imagine. The first step is believing it can happen and moving beyond any fear you may have about reaching out. Praxis Center not only has a course specifically about patrons and sponsors, we have experts to guide you through every step from making your list, to writing your letter and beyond. Get unlimited access with your monthly subscription and open doors you never thought possible.

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