Funding is a constant challenge for M/A partnerships to reach their potential and be sustained over time. Partnership funding is typically pieced together from multiple sources including existing municipal budgets; state, federal, and other government funding; foundation grants; and targeted support for the arts or for civic areas such as public safety, public health, community engagement, and economic development. The more we make the case for M/A partnerships, the more resources will become available. Consider these strategies when seeking funding:
ExampleCreative CityMaking is supported by the City of Minneapolis General Fund, matching funds from participating city departments, and NEA and foundation grants. Each of these sources contributes to a different dimension of the work; CCM sees foundation and NEA funding as a way to “buy artists some freedom to experiment.”
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Important sources of funding for M/A partnerships include:
Local government dollars should always be a part of the funding mix. Yet, even in some of the most long-standing and impactful M/A partnership programs, municipal investment represents only a modest percentage of overall costs. The reasons are not surprising. Municipal and agency budgets are perpetually stretched. Government agencies are sensitive to public perception of how taxpayer dollars are used. Even when evidence shows the positive effects of artists’ work toward municipal goals, M/A partnership coordinators have been challenged to win support over other “essential” services. This may limit initial cash investments and/or default to primarily in-kind support such as space, equipment, services, etc.
Some strategies to consider:
ExampleThe City of Fargo, ND eventually created an earmarked line item in the city budget to support Jackie Brookner's Fargo Project. Other funding came from the Parks District, state conservation funding, the NEA’s Our Town grant, ArtPlace America, the Kresge Foundation and others.
Nashville, TN supported the Restorative Arts program through its Public Investment Plan. The program received $88,000 for each of two years to launch and continue the program.
ExampleThe City of Detroit allocated revenue from PEG funding—a tax on cable and internet services that goes towards public, educational, and government programs— to support the Chief Storyteller staff position. The stories appear on the project website and the city’s cable channel.
After a successful pilot for Philadelphia’s Porch Light Initiative, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities Services created an ongoing budget line for the program.
ExampleThe City of St. Paul, MN gives the City Artist program operational support valued at $40,000 per year, including office space, computer equipment, and phone. The City of Austin, TX provided free use of city venues, vehicles, and marketing services for the My Park, My Pool, My City project. They also covered city workers’ time in assisting and participating in the project during regular work hours.
Local, State, and Regional Arts Agencies
Many local arts agencies (including councils and commissions) are critical third-party partners in M/A projects. They may assist in fundraising, make grants of their own, administer grant programs that support partnerships, and/or serve as fiscal sponsors. Similarly, state arts agencies make grants that may be applicable to partnerships. Also, local and state arts agencies sometimes manage public art programs that could be potential sources of partnership support.
ExampleThe Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture has leveraged its strong relations with county officials and departments such as Public Health, Public Works, and Parks & Recreation to gain their fiscal support.
ExampleIn Portland OR, the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s (RACC) intersections artist in residence program uses Percent for Art funds for socially engaged projects that support specific municipal agencies’ goals, and that aren’t restricted to the development site that generated the funds. RACC negotiated with the Portland Archives and Records Center to use around $100,000 of its Percent for Art allocation to support multiple artists in residence who, over time, would work collaboratively with Archives staff to define projects serving agency and community concerns.
State & Federal Non-arts Funding
Funding for M/A partnerships can be built into larger municipal budget proposals to state or federal agencies for transportation, environment, housing, or public health projects, when they are linked to the outcomes those agencies support. Federal mandates for public participation in programs such as Community Development Block Grants create additional opportunities.
ExampleThe City of Minneapolis secured a $5 million multi-year grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to support communities affected by police violence. $100,000 of this grant was used to hire two teams of artists to work with the city’s Equity and Inclusion Division.
Creative placemaking, community development, and place-based funders may be sources of support for M/A partnerships. Some of these funders can also support training or coaching that help partners build skills and capacity, as well as communication and evaluation resources. Some funders with a deep commitment to place may want to be actively involved or even engage as a partner—so make sure to have clarity about the funder’s role at the start.
“Getting national recognition [through an NEA Our Town grant] was great! It opened a lot of doors.” Nicole Crutchfield, planner, City of Fargo
National Intermediary Support
National organizations in community development, creative placemaking, and other sectors are stepping up to guide their fields in areas like M/A partnerships and creative placemaking. Although most don’t provide funding, they do support professional development and technical assistance to build capacity for partnerships. Examples include:
Community foundations provide a unique platform to generate new local opportunities. They can be a source of funding as well as allies in identifying and/or securing funds.