I wrote a post back in March called Why Not Apply for Funding? which I’ve now suffixed with ‘Part 1’.
In that post, I briefly outlined various reasons why I like to fund The Lifeboat Station Project in the way that I do.
I gave one specific example of The LSP Society but I thought it would be pertinent to write this second part now while I have another live example underway so that you can see a second thought process in action, one that works very well for me on a number of levels.
OILING THE WHEELS
When I started making giant posters just over a year ago (see my latest example above), it soon became clear that they’re pretty expensive to make — not just on the printing front, but the other costs too such as travel and accommodation.
To put it bluntly, if I was going to make these posters happen within the challenging landscape of a pandemic, I could really do with some financial help to oil the wheels.
Several well-meaning folk pointed me in the direction of Arts Council England as they were sure this would be an ideal candidate for funding my new idea. They were undoubtedly right but, if you’ve read Part 1, you’ll already know what I felt about that.
The thought of filling in application forms — and potentially having to adapt my language and approach in order to jump through the necessary hoops — made my blood run cold. Not to mention waiting for a judgement as to whether or not my proposal would be deemed worthy of funding.
Because I have utter conviction in my work and I know that it is worth funding, I kept on thinking.
Then the perfect idea hit me: I could rally people to get behind this new dimension by asking them to sponsor the individual sheets that make up a giant poster.
Within an hour or so, I divided a digital file of the photograph into a grid of 44 greyed-out sections (representing the number of sheets I needed to print) and posted it onto the project’s Posters page.
I then asked my Twitter followers and patrons if they’d like to sponsor my next poster at a cost of £10 per sheet.
It soon took off and, as each sheet was sponsored, I ‘activated’ the greyed-out squares to make it into a more engaging experience.
Within just a few days, all 44 sheets were sponsored and the costs were covered without a funding application form in sight!
It had worked brilliantly, so I repeated the process for the second installation of the giant Lucy Lavers poster in April, this time with 35 sheets:
Again, the second poster was fully sponsored within just a few days.
Furthermore, I also introduced 60x50cm commemorative posters for £10 so that people could purchase their own smaller version of the poster.
By combining that with instructions on how to paste your own poster, it made for a highly successful and engaging experience for anybody who wanted to get involved.
NORTHERN EYE PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL
As well as speaking at the Northern Eye Photography Festival in October, I’ve been invited to paste three more giant posters as part of the the fringe festival.
It was such fun to come up the ideas I’ve described above that — you’ve guessed it — I’m doing exactly the same again in order to fundraise some of the costs.
At the time of writing, 20 sheets have already been sponsored following the launch two days ago:
If you head to the Posters page for a closer look, you’ll also see that I’ve added the commemorative posters for these new photographs too.
LIMITED BY OUR IMAGINATIONS
In conclusion (for the moment), I’m sharing all this with you to offer other ways of thinking about funding your own work, and to remind you that we are only limited by our imaginations.
It may be the convention to apply for funding from recognised institutions but, to my mind, it takes a lot less effort to come up with ideas like these than it does to fill out one of those lengthy forms.
It’s much more dynamic and, depending on how people pay, the funds can be with you instantly.
Not only that, an approach like this directly engages your audience and gives them an opportunity to connect with the artist and the work they’re creating.
Furthermore, I know my audience — my crowd — approve of the work they’re supporting because otherwise they wouldn’t have parted with their hard-earned money to directly support it.
By contrast, logos of institutional and corporate organisations may well appear alongside artworks they’ve approved using public money but it doesn’t always mean that the public agree with how the money has been spent.
Please remember that this isn’t an attack on public funding or public funding bodies. I’m aware that they have their place and that there are many beautiful projects and artworks that wouldn’t have been able to happen had it not been for their help.
I’m simply hoping to get your cogs turning in a world where there appears to be set ways of doing things. Perhaps the rules and conventions aren’t as cast iron as you might think.
On a final note, I’m very excited this evening as we’re heading to London on the train tomorrow to see JR Chronicles at the Saatchi Gallery.
JR is the person who inspired me to start making giant posters of my photographs when I saw his TED Talk and Visages Villages, the film he made with Agnès Varda.
Anyway, that’s all for now! Feel free to share your thoughts below.
Keep on keepin’ on,
Creator of The Lifeboat Station Project