Big Money for SF Public Art Projects

If you make public art, the city of San Francisco is offering two chances to apply for a piece of millions in grant funding:

1.  Prequalified Artist Pool

Artists working in all mediums are encouraged to apply to the 2011/2011 Prequalified Artist Pool to be considered for upcoming public art projects.

Budgets range from $30,000- $200,000

Eligibility: Professional practicing artists or artist teams residing in the Western States (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming).

Application deadline: Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 5:00 PM PST
Application available here:
For more information:

2. Public Safety Building Public Art Program

The new Public Safety Building will be the first civic building located in the Mission Bay neighborhood. Several art opportunities for both interior and exterior public art projects are available. Please note: applying to the 2011/2012 Prequalified Artist Pool does not make you automatically eligible for this project. In order to be considered for both, you must submit two separate applications.

Budget: $2.6 million for multiple projects to be implemented at this site.

Eligibility: Professional practicing artists or artist teams residing in the United States.

Application deadline: Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 5:00 PM (PST)
Application available here:
For more information

For more information about the Public Art Program and helpful tips on how to apply, download this pdf:

Funding Option: Fiscal Sponsorship

Our good friends over at The Present Group have posted an excellent article about fiscal sponsorship.  What is fiscal sponsorship?  According to TPG,

“Fiscal Sponsorship allows organizations, individual artists, projects, or companies that have a non-profit mission to align themselves with a designated 501c(3) non profit organization and apply for grants and accept donations under their umbrella.”

I had never even heard this term before, but if you’ve been struggling to get a new project off the ground, fiscal sponsorship sounds like it may be an excellent option. The article explains fee structures, pitfalls, and partnership options, and includes links to fiscal sponsorship directories so you can find one in your area.  Thanks, TPG!

Best Grant Application Ever: Kickstarter

Today I finished a proposal for the CCE to get funding through Kickstarter.  Cross your fingers that they put it up!

For those of you who don’t know, Kickstarter is one of those ingenious ideas that makes you love the Internet.  Here’s how it works: people post creative project ideas that they need funding for, and Kickstarter members pledge to provide that funding, a few dollars at a time.  Creators provide a full proposal for their project, detailing their plans, expenses and current efforts towards reaching their goal, much like any other grant proposal.  They also include descriptions of various pledge levels, explaining what donors will receive for their contributions — for example, $5 might get you a thank-you postcard and $150 might get you an original song.

Each project has a certain amount of time to reach its pledge goal.  If it does, the pledges are collected and the project goes forward.  If time runs out, the project receives no money at all.  This ensures that applicants are not on the hook to finish projects that are only half-funded, and donors are not on the hook to fund projects that are not fully supported.

Even if you don’t propose a project or pledge to fund one, there are more than a few inspiring ideas to browse at Kickstarter.  One project I found particularly compelling is “1024 bits of you and me,” in which the artist crowdsources ideas for 1024 individual paintings that will be displayed as one giant work in the Artprize competition in Grand Rapids, MI.  It’s like a Thing-A-Day project on steroids.

Right now Kickstarter is still in Beta mode, so you can’t just post a project and start collecting pledges.  Your proposal needs to be sent to the Kickstarter team for approval first.  I’m not sure how I feel about this current set-up.  On the one hand, it means that I don’t have to wade through a bunch of idiotic vanity projects to find the ones that make meaningful contributions.  On the other hand, it means that a very small panel of profit-conscious judges decides which projects are worthy of presenting to the larger community.  What do you think?

Web Hosting for Artists

The Present Group, one of my favorite organizations, recently announced their latest endeavor: Web Hosting that Supports Artists.  “Web hosting is something many of us are paying for anyway,” says co-director Oliver Wise, “we wanted to give people a choice to do something good with those dollars.  Instead of the profits going to a faceless company, we’ll recognize worthy artists and fund artist projects that we collectively choose.”

In addition to your hosting dollars going towards supporting artists, TPG’s hosting makes it easier for artists to put up their own portfolio sites by offering free installation of WordPress or Indexhibit.  They also skip glitchy and spammy webmail portals by powering your email access with Gmail.  Users still get their own email addresses at their domain (like “[email protected]”), but access and management is through Gmail’s secure and familiar interface.  Of course, you can also still check your e-mail through a program like Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook if you prefer.

I think the work that these guys do is great, and I signed up for TPG hosting immediately for my new portfolio site.  It’s only $7/month, which is way cheaper than my old GoDaddy account, and MUCH simpler to deal with.  It was super smooth sailing setting everything up and I haven’t had a single question or glitch.  I used the WordPress installation to run my site, and now I can easily add new info without having to muck around in a bunch of code.

Every hosting client gets to nominate artists each granting period within a chosen theme.  We also get to vote on the final grant recipient.  For their first grant, The Present Group is teaming up with the Collective Foundation to create a $1000 travel grant for an artist in the Bay Area.  Investigating the question of why many Bay Area artists choose to leave once their careers really start to take off, Joseph del Pesco, co-founder of The Collective Foundation, theorizes  “if Bay Area artists had support for mobility…they would be more likely to stay.”

Since I have a hosted site, I get to nominate a Bay Area artist who I think would benefit from this $1000 travel grant.  Who do you folks think it should be?  Feel free to post your own nominations in the comments, or even better, sign up for your own artist web site and make sure that grant actually happens.  Only 13 more artists are needed!

And just in case you needed another reason why The Present Group rocks the free world (which you don’t), they’ve already provided free hosting to the Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs! It’s just one more way they’re helping artists live the dream of turning their passion into a living.

(Psst! I also heard a rumor that TPG hosting may start offering exclusive free portfolio templates that are simple, gorgeous, and ready to go.  Just add your own text and pictures and voila!  Fully-baked portfolio site.  In the meantime, both WordPress and Inexhibit have free themes to choose from, or you can hire us at Burning House to make you a custom one.)

The Present Group was founded in 2006 by Eleanor and Oliver Wise out of the desire to create affordable and sustainable models for funding artists. In their first three years, their quarterly subscription art service has channeled over $20,000 toward funding artist projects, stipends, and development of critical essays. The Present Group Web Hosting is yet another attempt to create a sustainable revenue stream for artist grants.