Fund Your Art: Safety Net Edition

By Paul Bindel

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Previous installments of these lists focused on specific pots of money, but being an artist is full of risks, and the trouble with risk is that it’s tough to predict how much it’ll cost. And even if we could predict all the bad things that could happen to us (a job reserved for the insurance industry) safety nets are preventative rather than retroactive. 

In addition to The Denver Actors Fund and “Talk With Your Mouth Full,” here are ways to get plugged in so that you feel less vulnerable in the world. Some of them you might be able to join right away; others might inspire a new idea for a program in Denver.


Safe Creative Spaces Fund
After Denver Fire Department cracked down on creative spaces in 2016, Denver Arts & Venues responded with a $300,000 fund to support building rennovation, recognizing that many creatives are vulnerable renters. The initial fund has been renewed, so if the lease for your art space is for 2+ years, and your landlord is willing to make your space more livable and safe, apply here.   

If you have 5+ years in the music industry and 6+ commercially released recordings or videos, you can seek funds from this Grammy-sponsored program, which specializes in financial assistance and addiction recovery for musicians.  

Haven Foundation
Inspired by his own experience of getting hit by a careless driver, Stephen King started this organization, which provides financial support to freelance artists who experience illness, injury or mishap. (Note that the money is paid to a third party, not directly to the freelancer). The site provides an extensive list of emergency funds for every art discipline.

Professional Services

Colorado Attorneys for the Arts (CAFTA) 
Did someone swipe your design? From copyright, to filing with the Secretary of State, CAFTA’s volunteer attorneys provide pro bono help to creative entities and artists of limited means. 

Fractured Atlas
This online hub for artists or creative entrepreneurs has an accessible toolkit. You can set up a patron database to organize the info of people who care about your work. You can find and list affordable workspaces (not yet in Denver). If you want to go after grant funding, you can even be fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, starting at $10/month.

This European cooperative, originally designed for independent creatives, provides 35,000 freelancers with the benefits of wage employees. Additionally, they offer backend support like a wage guarantee fund, 7-day payments and lines of credit. Good news—they’re exploring the feasibility of Smart Cooperative in the Americas, first in Quebec. 

Networks & Community

Mental Wellness Meetup / Music Minds Matter
Originally organized by Spencer Townsend Hughes of art-rock group The Hollow, this regular gathering provides a space for artists to meet each other and share mental health stories to support each other’s growth. 

A community and interlocking set of business rooted in New Zealand, Enspiral is an evolving organization that has led the way in defining new expressions of mutual aid and shared livelihoods. A portion of all revenue goes back into the central business, and members get to decide how to budget that money and run the business as a whole.

Collectives, Co-ops and Coworking Studios

When people come together with a shared goal, you’re cooking with gas. Denver still has affordable studio space (like PRISM or Art Gym), and co-op galleries (like Pirate or Spark), which help creatives reduce costs and provide a channel for wider audiences.

Originally from rural New Mexico, Paul Bindel spent five years teaching writing before transitioning full time into marketing at Doghead Creative, a digital marketing firm that specializes in content writing, strategy and social media.

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