When Non-Profit Art and Commerce – SLAM!

As a member of an Arts Commission in a small artistically vibrant city, and an audience member at local art events, I often see artists taking on more marketing and selling. With reduced funding sources, artists and arts organizations must use new and more creative ways to gain the support of their community. Besides applying for grants and sponsorships, arts organizations must seek individuals and businesses receptive to their mission and willing to support their art. Knowledge of funding sources and research into potential audiences have critical impact on management and decisions about artistic projects.

ArtFarm has a wide set of theater offerings, including Summer Shakespeare, their teen circus Circophony, and educational program Circus for a Fragile Planet – and an extensive audience, diversely skilled performers, and multiple networks of potential funders.

The Shakespeare Slam is one of ArtFarm’s most popular events. Blending entertainment and fundraising, The Shakespeare Slam is a benefit performance for the organization’s many programs. Participation in the event is open to all, and is an opportunity for supporters to contribute creatively as well as financially.

Slam participants perform short pieces of Shakespeare literature in innovative ways, raising pledges for donations from “Patrons” for Art Farm. Prizes are awarded for pledges raised, and applause awarded for performances by all participants – youth, students, adult, amateur or professional.

ArtFarm also engages key members of the community by using a local children’s museum, KidCity, as the venue for the event. Local restaurants are also given the opportunity to contribute – and market their products – by donating signature dishes to be served to the attendees. The event is billed as an opportunity for community members to enjoy the company of friends, offerings of local food establishments, and entertainment for a good cause.

Art Farm’s mission of social activism and community involvement is enhanced by Shakespeare Slam. By involving its donors in a personal way, Art Farm strengthens its ties with its fundraising base and extends its network to include that of the Slam performers. The Slam has also become, like the events ArtFarm produces, a landmark seasonal event for the Middletown community.

ArtFarm has found ways to practice their activism and create meaningful performances by diversifying their artistic offerings and appealing to many different audiences. The Shakespeare Slam is a great merge of their art and fundraising.

November 2016

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