Creative approaches to funding

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Pictured above: The Hot Mess Wall at Rachel Sager’s Ruins Project in Pennsylvania

Artists are finding more and more creative ways to generate funding for their projects. Rhona Duffy takes a look at some examples and talks to finance consultant Tracey Ward to get her expert tips on making successful funding applications.


Artists are coming up with different ways of securing funding for their projects, in addition to their more usual income streams of selling art or teaching. In fact, just by looking at some of the artists featured in this issue of Mosaic & Glass magazine, we can see a range of examples of the creative approaches they’re taking.

The Ruins Project creator Rachel Sager collaborates with artists from across the world, who create artworks to be installed at her long-term mosaic art installation in Pennsylvania (read more on page 66). To help artists cover the cost of shipping, Rachel has invited “direct-to-artist” donations, which have proved a successful way to help artworks from as far away as Scotland get to Pennsylvania. Rachel has also invited sponsorship for sections of the project – one example is the Jeffrey L Sager Memorial Bridge in memory of Rachel’s father. As an everlasting thank you, Rachel stamps the sponsors’ names in clay near the projects they’ve contributed towards.

Mosaic artist Ruth Ames-White has also come up with a range of ways to fund her Wells in Mosaic community project. The project aims to install a permanent six-metre diameter circular mosaic, showing a historic record and walkable map of the city, adjacent to the Bishop’s Barn in Wells in England. At the start of the project, Ruth received donations from local organisations, including the Civic Society and Wells Lions, which helped buy some of the materials and get the project off the ground. 

Mosaics in progress by Ruth Ames-White for her Wells in Mosaic project.

After that, Ruth and her team held a number of local fundraising events – including a market stall demonstration, a concert and a quiz night. They’ve also received more donations from charities, local organisations and private individuals. And Ruth is working with a local stone carver to create carved stones containing names or words chosen by sponsors, which will be installed around the circumference of the mosaic. We’ll be featuring Ruth’s project in a future issue of Mosaic & Glass, but you can find out more about the project in the meantime at

Corporate sponsorship is an option for artists with an active audience to partner with a company that’s a good match for their art and techniques. Carrie Reichardt and Rachel Sager are both supported by construction solutions company Laticrete. There are also a range of public bodies, charitable trusts and funds that artists can apply to for funding. These can be competitive, so I asked Tracey Ward from Miss S, who specialises in supporting creatives and not-for-profit organisations with their funding applications, to share some tips for any of you artists out there who might be thinking about making a funding application. Here’s what she had to say…

Top tips for being successful in your funding application

  1. Know your funder. “There’s no point in putting in a cold application for a significant amount of funding, unless the project is incredible,” says Tracey. “Funders like to know who they’re dealing with. So it’s generally better to put in a small funding application first, succeed and deliver on that, and then go for a bigger one.”
  2. Read the questions carefully. “The best advice of all is: read the damn questions! And answer them,” Tracey continues. “I read a lot of applications and artists tend to write the messages they want to get across, rather than answering the questions directly. If you don’t answer the questions or your word count is wrong, your application could be rejected.”
  3. Be on time. “If your application arrives after the deadline, it will be immediately disqualified.” 
  4. Collaborate with an artist who’s been funded by the body previously. “Collaborating with someone who already has a relationship with the funding body can give you more of a chance of being successful with your first application.”