Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The process of theatre funding

I've noticed on my journey around the internet that there is an assumption that arts funding is "free money" and that projects are 100% funding by the government. But the truth is in theatre, this is how it really works.

We have to compete to get funding in the first place - most programs have a success rate of between 25-40%. We submit an outline of the project, objectives, a budget, and a marketing plan. Government funding can't be more than 40% of the total in the budget, as a general rule. You have to report at certain milestones while you're working on the project. After the project is completed, you have to submit an actual budget, attendance figures, any press, samples of marketing, outreach, and promotional materials, and an evaluation of the project which includes a synopsis, evaluation of goals, marketing, names of people involved and what you plan to do if you have a surplus over $100. You're not eligible for future money until you've submitted your report.

After you've gotten a few project grants, you become eligible for operation grants, which requires evaluation of your administrative and financial management (your organization has to be governed by a board of directors at this point), reports from the previous fiscal year, and "demonstrate a range of revenue sources on an annual basis, including earned, government and private sector revenues." On the artistic side, you need to demonstrate the contribution your organization is making in your community and in the wider Canadian theatre community.

Trade Routes, the program that was eliminated from Canadian Heritage, provided access to market research and trade experts, as well as provided funding. You had to develop an export plan or a strategic international business development plan to even qualify. "Organizations may apply for financial assistance for projects that help arts and cultural entrepreneurs prepare and start to export. Examples of eligible projects include participating in international trade events, inviting buyers to Canada and hosting panels on exporting." From there, you had to submit the same amount of information that you needed for a domestic grant.

As for the much-maligned Prom-Art program out of DFAIT, these are the guidelines laid out: "The grant program provides funding to Canadian artists and arts organizations for the promotion of Canadian culture abroad, in alignment with Canada's foreign policy and trade priorities. The business development program provides information and advice to Canadian exporters interested in entering foreign markets, as well as financial support (contributions) to Canadian national sectoral associations for the generic promotion of their industry's products or services."

Priority consideration will be given to cultural activities in the following countries and regions:
* North American Partnership: United States of America, Mexico
* Americas : Brazil, other Latin American countries and the Caribbean
* Asian Markets: China, India, Japan, South Korea
* European Markets: Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom


"Time is money" is the old adage. To do these grants, you're looking at somewhere between 10 and 20 hours for the project grants, and about 4 weeks of work for the other grants.

As for the differences between Trade Routes and PromArt, my understanding is that Trade Routes most often was used to fund tours, while PromArt would fund various artists for specific strategic events. (i.e. sending 6 authors to participate in a Canadian showcase at the Adelaide Festival, or assisting different theatre groups from across the country to present at the Edinburgh fringe where they could be seen by international promoters.)

2 comments:

Catherine said...

Thank you, MK!

For people like me, who are quite ignorant to the entire process, this is really important to write about.

plaban said...

hi,
rangashilpi is reputed group theater organization of kolkata,India.we do theater for people but we have not get money form any were,day by day surviving is too difficult for us.so how could we do a good production?its a big question for us.if u have any idea about our problems,please write us=rangashilpi@rediffmail.com .thank u

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