U.S. Funding Opportunities for Arts and Cultural Digital Projects

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With the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day upon us, it got me thinking about our work with Juno Beach Centre. More specifically, I thought about the online exhibit that we co-developed for them, «From Vimy to Juno.»

Working alongside their team as their digital partner, we assisted them in developing a grant application for the Virtual Museum of Canada (now the Digital Museum of Canada). Our successful application taught me the importance of knowing how to identify the right funding source that matches the project to increase the chances for a successful project application.

As we are now working mainly with US-based arts and cultural institutions, I’ve become more and more curious about what the arts funding landscape looks like so that we can support our clients and partners even more. I’ve navigated the funding landscape for such projects locally, and now I’m excited to explore similar opportunities in the United States alongside our clients, partners, and future collaborators.

Like a newcomer to the sector, I’ve conducted my research cold over the past few months and have had to make sure that my assumptions about how things are done are true. I figured that with the federal government funding few organizations directly other than National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), most of the options are regional in nature or funded by a diverse set of foundations.

How to Obtain Funding for Digital Projects

While my assumptions are generally correct, there are some specific elements to take into account:

  • Find the right funding sources: If someone is new to the arts and culture sector, they might be unaware of the various opportunities available through non-profits, government bodies, or foundations.
  • Think of them as a partner: If someone chooses to fund your project, it’s in their interest to see you succeed. Make sure that you choose someone who you know has your best interest in mind.
  • Invest in creating a compelling proposal: To make sure you receive your funding, you’ll need to put in the effort to ensure that your application is relevant to the funder. You should have a solid plan for selecting a digital partner and demonstrate an innovative use of technology.
  • Demonstrate capacity: Show that your organization can manage the project internally and has strong curatorial resources in place. Engage a digital agency experienced in the arts to ensure project success.
  • Gather information: Reach out to other organizations that have secured funding from the sources you are considering. This can provide insights into expectations and help strengthen your application.

Interesting Sources for Arts and Culture Funding

In our initial research, we identified some of the following organizations as leaders in the funding of arts and cultural online projects.

Knight Foundation

The Knight Foundation supports the application of technology to arts through its Digital Transformation in the Arts program. This includes investments in digital infrastructure to help arts organizations increase capacity and engage audiences.

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Digital Accelerator program provides grants and training for arts organizations to enhance their technology infrastructure. The program aims to help organizations build audiences, increase fundraising, and deliver dynamic programming through integrated marketing and virtual platforms.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

The National Endowment for the Arts offers grants such as Grants for Arts Projects, Challenge America, and Our Town, which support a variety of arts projects, including those with digital components. These grants aim to strengthen the arts and culture ecosystem across the United States.

Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA)

Grantmakers in the Arts supports a wide range of initiatives that can include digital innovation. GIA provides resources and leadership to help arts organizations explore funding opportunities and implement successful projects.

The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program integrates arts and culture into community development, which can include digital projects. By focusing on innovative uses of technology, Kresge Foundation supports arts organizations in enhancing community engagement and development.

Takeaways

While I have enjoyed the initial research I have done to better understand the US cultural funding landscape, there is a lot more to learn about the opportunities available. As I am still humbly looking to increase our awareness and knowledge, we would love to hear about other foundations, state-related or regional funds to get a more complete picture of the landscape. If you have anything you want to share or discuss, please let me know!