Awesome Foundation

Audience Engagement, Inspirational Stories, Music and Finance, Opportunity

Finding the Funds for Free Programs


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#MusiciansandFinance is musicovation’s blog series exploring finance for musicians. All posts are contributed by graduate students in New England Conservatory’s Entrepreneurial Music course  Finance 101: What Musicians Need to Know taught by NEC alum Jessi Rosinski

by Amanda Ekery

Art is for all. This is a statement I have constantly been reminding myself of while booking a tour for a band I co-lead, The Lomax Folk Project. The Lomax Folk Project is an interactive educational program that combines history, music and is free-of-charge to the public. I am currently in the process of contacting venues; however, I have been concerned about the financial challenge that has developed between balancing the funding needs for fair, equitable pay for the musicians and keeping the project free and accessible for audiences. After all, the Lomax Folk Project is about the music and history found in your own backyard…and who wants to pay to visit their own backyard? Below is what I have discovered so far.

First things first – Where to play? Most traditional music venues make their revenue from ticket sales, food, drinks, and venue rental fees. The Lomax Folk Project strikes out on all four. Therefore, I decided to contact nontraditional music venues to perform in like libraries, historical societies and art museums. These locations not only have a budget for programs but also lack diversity in their programming. Many places I have contacted have told me they have never had a musical performance before. Although this may not work for every music act, for the Lomax Folk Project it is ideal because we have an educational
component.

What if the Library spent all their money on Chess Club? I contacted a library that is super excited about the Lomax Folk Project but doesn’t have a budget for outside programs. This is where alternative funding comes into play. Many cities have community grants that are specifically for programs that enrich the lives of their community members. The Lomax Folk Project shares the rich history of specific locations where the Lomaxes recorded and is a program – check, check. Spending hours googling, I have also discovered other grants that are designated to help musicians fund projects; for example, grants from the Grammy Foundation, the Awesome Foundation and Universities.

I think I know a guy. Use your friends! Other huge costs for this tour come from transportation, promotion and housing. I have been contacting friends who live in the cities we will be visiting to ask if we can couch surf for a night. I have a family member who owns an advertising bureau who will be donating postcards and posters. People are usually more than willing to help you, all you have to do it ask. Maybe a friend’s friend owns a business where you can hang a poster. Maybe a friend from high school who works at the radio station can have you on air for five minutes promoting your program. Use what you already have access to.

The Lomax Folk Project will be going on tour in the summer of 2017. I’m only in the beginning stages of planning but have found a lot of resources online and by asking for help. Art is for all, and I think it’s important to find opportunities to keep it that way!