Staying Focused? Or Chasing Money?

You are the only one who can determine the future of your creative business. Don’t allow others to distract you from your purpose.



A speaker at an arts conference once addressed a group of nonprofit executives on the topic of applying for grants. She shared sage advice, saying, “Never compromise your mission for the purpose of getting grant money.” This experienced administrator had a good point. When you chase funding, and are willing to change your direction, your planning, or your activities to fit the requirements of a grant, you are thrown off course and cannot be effective at what you do, or at reaching the people you serve.

Artists are sometimes placed in a similar position when they apply for funding. And likewise, it doesn’t make sense to compromise your artistic vision to conform to the requirements of a grant, either. It’s better to wait for a better fit – one that allows you to make what inspires you and do the important work you envision. Chasing grant money may require you to change the direction of your work to meet the goals of the grantmaker instead.

Have you ever been offered other “opportunities” that don’t really make sense for you as an artist? Have you accepted a commission for work that doesn’t fit with your abilities or specialty? Or taken a paid side job that may be art-related, but doesn’t really further your business goals? It’s not uncommon to see artists compromise for the sake of getting hired to do a project, or settle for less-than-desirable work simply for the paycheck, but making a practice of this can derail your entire career trajectory.

If you have created a vision and set goals for your business, you are more likely to stay on track and choose projects and opportunities that support the activities you are undertaking to reach those goals. If you don’t have clear goals, you may end up being pulled this way and that, doing what comes along because you are chasing a job or income.

Have you turned down funding or projects because they don’t jibe with the vision you have for your own art business? What was the result?


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