Seeking Art Donations

For a charity or local business looking to raise funds for community initiatives a request to a local artist for the donation of a piece of work may appear relatively simple. Afterall, artists usually have something sitting unloved at the back of their studio, don’t they?

Firstly, it is important to understand that regardless of its history, every piece of art created has been made with love, creativity and good intentions. It is unique and special. It is not in the interests of an artist to donate rubbish. Their reputation is in their signature or byline, as well as in the quality of their work.

Secondly nothing comes for free. Making a request to an artist for a donation is a business transaction. A piece of work may only appear to be paint on canvas or a lump of clay molded into a shape, however that piece of work may have the same value to you as a monetary donation.

Thirdly, if you are making a request for a donation of art, approach an artist with a reputation. Maybe visit a couple of local galleries first. The gallery might even be your first approach. Approach an artist with obvious talent rather than the sister of the mother of the third temporary lighting assistant you hired this year, regardless of how much they love their auntys paintings. Nothing puts people off next years fundraiser than having ended up with a substandard piece of work that now clutters up the garage.

It is not enough to say to an artist, make a donation and you will get exposure. How do they know you have that power? At the very least you should provide with the artwork a description, artist details and studio contact. When you list your donors in your annual report, a line stating ‘donated by local artist, (name), a painter and mixed media artist, located at (studio address). While a local business, an artist often doesnt engender the instant recall of other more well known local businesses.

Ask the artist if they are able to provide you with an image of their work for you to use for promotional purposes. This is preferable to you asking the receptionist to ‘take a snap’ on her mobile phone. Not withstanding the advanced imaging capacity of mobile phones, lets not assume the receptionist will understand the importance of light.

Provide the artist with a letter of appreciation. You would do this for a financial donor or any other local business. Its good practice and shows respect.

If the artwork is being auctioned or sold to generate funds, ask the artist for a statement regarding the work, its inspiration, creations, storyline and a bit about themselves. An art purchase is an intimate action, based upon emotions. The more a potential buyer understands the piece being offered the more they are likely to pay for it.

Lastly, don’t despair if your request is declined by an artist. They may be busy, totally immersed in preparing for their next exhibition, may not feel they have something they want to put out there or it may not be the right time for them. Be gracious, leave the door ajar, build a relationship and come back next year. Perhaps in the meantime invite them to come along to your charity, see what you do, maybe even host an exhibition, talk with staff and clients about their work, visit their gallery or studio.

If you would like to talk about fundraising for your arts organisation email John and I will call you back to have a chat.

Image by Thalison Silva from Pixabay

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