Are you planning a performing arts event but aren’t sure where that all-important finance is going to come from? Securing funding can often be a challenge for creators organising performing arts events of all kinds, especially given the uncertainty caused in the last few years by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that events have returned for (fingers crossed) the long term, you may need to put more of a focus on fundraising. We have set out a guide for creators with plenty of performing arts fundraising ideas, as well as valuable resources and tools to help you reach your fundraising targets.
Sources of funding for performing arts events
There is a range of options available for creators looking to secure funding for their events. The key is knowing what’s out there, where to find it, and how to get it. We’ve got you covered with these fundraising ideas for performing arts.
There are a variety of publically available arts grants across the UK. In England, Arts Council England offers support through several open funds. A regular fixture is the National Lottery Project Grant, which receives applications on an ongoing basis. There are also other funds with application deadlines available for arts organisations. Currently, the National Portfolio Organisations and Investment Principles Support Organisation programmes are receiving applications to receive regular funding throughout 2023–26.
Organisations can apply by setting up an account on the Council’s application portal, Grantium, which makes it easier to apply for several different funding schemes in one place.
The Scottish equivalent body is Creative Scotland, while Welsh organisations should apply to the Arts Council of Wales (Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru). Northern Ireland’s is the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Grants from private trusts, charities, and foundations provide a great alternative to public arts funding, and there are loads to choose from. The benefit here is that you may be able to find a funder that’s specifically dedicated to helping your type of organisation or group and that has similar values.
For example, the Peter De Haan Charitable Trust awards grants to organisations that provide opportunities to take part in the arts in education and community settings, especially for people or groups with limited access to the arts. Arts Council England keeps a non-exhaustive list of UK-based funding options for anyone seeking further help.
If your event already has an established following, you could aim to fund performances by encouraging regular attendees to contribute to the event through a crowdfunding platform.
This immensely popular funding option involves setting up an account to raise money for a particular cause, and thanks to the power of the internet, people can donate as much as they wish from anywhere in the world. It also provides a sense of community around your event by including its followers, whatever the amount they chip in.
Several different crowdfunding platforms are available, such as Gofundme, Kickstarter, and Crowdfunder. To achieve your target amount, be sure to add a relevant image and fill in your About page to engage potential donors, demonstrate the value of your event, and explain why they should give generously. You could also add stretch goals to create more of an incentive for others to donate, so that the more funding you receive, the better the event.
This could possibly be the most practical of options because of the number of companies you could work with – and it also provides mutual benefits for both the event and contributing businesses. The key is letting potential partners know what they can get from having their brand associated with your event.
On a local level, this could mean getting sponsorship from neighbourhood restaurants or bars. Allow them to cater the event or add their logo to programmes or merchandise in the venue. You could capitalise on existing partnerships by asking current vendors to financially contribute to your event or give you a special deal in exchange for promotion, either within the venue or via social media.
Funding request email template
While most official foundations, bodies, or trusts will have a specific application to fill out, it’s a good idea to have a plan of how you are going to approach potential sponsors or donors, especially when making unsolicited requests or introducing your organisation for the first time. Money is a sensitive topic, and your choice of words could make or break your chances of securing funding.
To improve your prospects of success and help make a good impression, we suggest following this funding request email template:
Recipient Address Line 1
Recipient Address Line 2
Dear Sir or Madam, (bonus points if you find out the name of the person responsible for funding)
I am writing to you to request [a grant/a sponsorship deal] of [amount/proposal] on behalf of [insert name of organisation/event]. We are an [explain objective/mission/form of organisation]. We serve [describe community or target market].
[Organisation name] has been active since [insert foundation date]. In this time, we have [name some successful projects/impacts].
Our new project is [describe project], with the objective of [name objective]. We have reached out to you because [insert reason for request]. With your help, we will be able to [define goals for the event].
[If pitching to a sponsor] We anticipate that the event could reach [number of expected attendees] people and provide a strong return on investment for your sponsorship.
Thank you for your consideration. If you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by [insert best method of communication].
[Your job title]
Fundraising ideas for your performing arts event
If you’d rather rely more on your organisation’s non-monetary resources, here are a few more ideas of ways to fundraise ahead of and during your event.
Create tiered pricing options by providing a ticket option that allows attendees to meet the stars after the show.
People love free stuff, so give away a cheap and easily sourced promotional item if the customer buys a certain amount of tickets.
Get local businesses to donate prizes to be raffled off, and sell tickets individually or in strips prior to the show. Announce the winners during the interval.
Auction off donated items or old props and costumes that you might not need anymore to make some extra cash.
Auction of promises
This is the same concept, but with experiences or acts of service pledged by performers and/or members of the community. For example, auction off a romantic dinner for two on stage before or after a performance, a chance to play a cameo role, or a skills class.
If you have a particularly high-profile performer involved with your event, sell some signed programmes and show posters as event mementoes.
AmazonSmile can provide a little extra on top of other fundraising efforts – after all, every penny helps. Create an AmazonSmile link and publicise its availability on your organisation’s social media platforms.
Collect donations and generate publicity for your event at the same time! Do note that you may need to apply to your local authority for a licence.
Social media challenge
Get your performers to take part in a social media challenge and include a visible link in your post to your crowdfunding page.
Charge admission per team, set up a bar (if your venue has an alcohol licence), and sell snacks. Theme the trivia around your particular artistic field.
Enter into a sporting event
If your organisation is a registered charity, consider getting someone to participate on its behalf in a local or national sporting event (e.g. a marathon or decathlon).
Sell interval snacks
An easy fundraising idea for community theatre and performing arts projects is to sell food and drink during the interval, as well as before and after the event. Getting volunteers to mingle among the audience selling treats like ice-creams also means the audience members don’t even have to leave their seats for a snack.
Now that the funding’s flowing
Eventbrite cares about the performing arts in your community. That’s why we’ve created Boost – to help you promote your event and get the most out of it. Sign up now to host your event with Eventbrite.