Raising funds is easily one of the central themes in any working artist’s life. Everything costs money and as an artist, it may sometimes feel difficult to keep up. There are only so many grants to go around and maybe your Kickstarter isn’t off the ground quite yet. When it comes to raising capital, some artists are turning to creative, non-traditional fundraising concepts in order to help each other move forward in the field they share in common. One way artists are doing this is through FEASTS. This relatively new and exciting concept is beginning to take hold. Not only does it offer a way to raise a little money, it brings communities of artists together to work collaboratively.
Get ready to host, you’re throwing a dinner party. But this is no ordinary dinner party, this is a FEAST. And while you might think that your own dining room is the right spot for this event, it’s a good idea to think a bit bigger. But on a budget. Securing a venue will be your biggest challenge but it can be done. Churches often offer free space for community events and what’s more they often have a kitchen. Start calling around until you find a venue that will allow you to take over for an evening.
Once your venue is secured, pull together four or five fellow artists. These will be your collaborators for the event. Plan your menu and have each artist prepare a short talk about their work. If possible have your artists bring samples of their work with them to the FEAST–if this is too difficult, images will do. It’s important that all participating artists be briefed up front about the nature of the FEAST. As you read on you will understand that for each event, only one artist will receive monetary support. But a FEAST is not meant to be a single serving, it is designed to present more opportunities down the road.
Get the word out about your event. Use whatever means you have available. Social media is a powerful tool–your personal or professional Facebook pages are both perfect places to advertise the FEAST. Tweet it, make posters, do whatever it takes to drum up interest. Let your potential guests know that there will be a minimum donation of $10 to cover food costs and that the evening will feature a collection of artists all ready to present their work.
The night of your feast, once your guests are settled in with their meals, the competition begins. That’s right, this is a dinner party like no other. Each artist presents their work to the crowd who have been provided with ballots to cast for their favorite presenter. Presentations should be around five minutes each. When all artists have stated their case, ask your guests to cast a ballot for their favorite presentation of the evening. When dinner is done, and before dessert is served (because what’s a dinner party without dessert?!) announce the winner.
The artist who wins the FEAST takes the spoils. Every dollar collected at the door goes to the winning presenter who also gets the opportunity to exhibit their work at the next FEAST.
The second FEAST operates just like the first. Collect your artists, prepare your statements to the crowd, wine them, dine them, wow them with artistic splendor. All the while, the walls of your venue are adorned with the previous winner’s work.
FEAST is a true community event. While only one artist each time will walk away with the prize money, there’s always next time and you simply can’t argue with this fun way to get your work out into the world. Not only that, you’ll form networks and bonds with fellow artists as well as members of the community. All of this is absolutely crucial when building a business as an artist.
Get creative with your FEAST. Prepare meals that reflect the art being discussed. Serve food arranged in still-life or pick a theme color for the evening and serve only foods that match. Just be sure your food tastes as good as it looks. Pair your food with inviting music (when there isn’t a presentation to hear) and create interesting mock-tails to complement your menu. There are no limits to the fun you can have planning your FEAST. And the more memorable, the more likely you will see repeat guests and positive word-of-mouth for next time.
The frequency of your FEAST is up to you, but it’s probably best to leave a little time in between in order to combat market saturation. Consider hosting one every few months, maybe quarterly. Ask past guests to spread the word through their own social media channels.
This is just one of many ways to creatively fund your art business. Every Thursday I will be running a series on creative fundraising bringing you concepts and stories about real artists and start-ups who thought outside the box in order to acquire the capital they needed to succeed. Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to fundraising. Dive deep and go far.