Fundraising for your Park Project
Looking for funds to make art in your local park? Not sure where to start? Funding for arts-based community engagement in parks and public spaces comes from a range of sources, meaning that you may need to get creative even at this stage in your process. Here are some tips on raising funds for your project.
1. Think outside your sector
While it can be time-consuming, it’s useful to scan grant opportunities from a range of sectors to see how your project might fit with their criteria. Some arts councils and foundations, like the Toronto Arts Council (TAC), have developed specific grants and supports for artists who want to work in parks or public spaces. TAC’s Animating Toronto’s Parks grant offers both money and support with city permits. Other local arts councils have community arts or community engagement granting programs, which your project may be eligible for. Beyond arts funding, you may also be able to apply for federal funding from government ministries at both the provincial and federal levels. MABELLEarts’ national project, Welcome to This Place (2018), for example, was funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage Inter-Action program; a fund designed to strengthen the Canadian social fabric and foster intercultural understanding. It’s also worth looking at funds specifically allotted for: youth engagement; immigrants and refugees; seniors, and other specific demographics. The important role that participatory art and culture-making can play in fostering healthy communities is increasingly recognized outside of the arts sector. Micro or “seed” grants (small parcels of money) may also be suitable for your first project. Park People, a national organization that supports communities to enliven parks, sometimes offers such grants, and other local organizations may do so as well. Look far and wide for such opportunities!
2. Do it early
Given the research involved in finding funds and the work that goes into writing grant applications, it’s a good idea to look for funds early. Sharon Kallis, artistic director of Vancouver’s EartHand Gleaners Society, explains that her company typically looks for funds two or even three years in advance of the projects they undertake. This allows her to plan properly and put all of the necessary supports in place well in advance of each project. It’s also important to note that funds from arts councils and government are typically posted 6 months to a year out from the expected start date of a project. There is often a wait time of 3-6 months while applications are reviewed.
3. Don’t underestimate
A final tip for fundraising is to not underestimate your costs. MABELLEarts thinks through all of the potential costs for each of its projects and matches these costs with funding opportunities. Of course, anticipating potential costs comes with experience. A number of Welcome to this Place partners commented on the extra resources required to support newcomers to Canada to participate in their programming. Transportation to and from parks was a significant cost, as was food and outreach. As Sharon Kallis, from EartHand Gleaners Society put it: “If I look to writing grants to engage with newcomers again, I will be much clearer in understanding what is required in order to deliver a project successfully. This mini project was an excellent learning opportunity and test run.”
Do you want more tools, tips and insights for creating your own community-engaged projects in public spaces? Visit Placing Parks to learn more and explore our project archive and toolkit! We hope Placing Parks helps you envision artful projects that bring people together in your local park!