Your Ultimate Guide to

Funding Your Bronze Statue Project

Here at Big Statues, our Master Sculptor, Matt Glenn and his team are dedicated to ensuring our statues are done to the highest standards. We recognize that art of this caliber comes with a high price tag and with high expectations. Cost can often be a barrier and we are here to support our customers from concept through to the unveiling. This includes helping our customers find ways to fund their projects and over the years we have been instrumental in dozens of fundraising campaigns, events and initiatives.  

Below, we have complied a list of the different ways communities and individuals have funded their statues.  If your community, organization or non-profit is looking to commission a bronze statue, but you haven’t quite found a way to pay for it entirely; we can help! There area a variety of ways that public art can be funded in part or entirely, depending on the placement, purpose and entities involved. We have also helped private individuals and companies raise funds through donations, crowd-funding programs and events. We have created this guide to help people recognize the different options for funding statues and encourage our customers to explore whether or not they could benefit from the experience of others. 

With over 20 years of experience, we can often assist with fundraising ideas by finding grants and helping to create momentum regarding your fundraising efforts through social media. Keep in mind every community and funding source varies and so this guide is meant to navigate the vast options, some of which MAY apply to your proposed statue. 

Big Statues would love to be part of your project! Let’s find a way to make it happen together.

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Custom Bronze Statues

Source 1

Community partners

  • Convention and Visitors Bureau’s
  • Chambers of Commerce 
  • City/County Government offices
  • Clubs and Organizations
  • Businesses

Source 2

Grants

  • Arts and Cultural Councils
  • Historical Societies, Education
  • 1% for the Arts and government programs

Source 3

Grassroots Fundraising

  • Events
  • Products
  • Crowd-funding
  • Donors

Community Partners

Finding community partners can be a great source of funding. If your statue is part of collaboration, you may already know who those partners are, if your starting from scratch, then finding partners is a great first step. Here are some options in most communities:

Chamber of Commerce

Chambers of Commerce can be a great resource for finding clubs, organizations and businesses in your area that may be supportive of your project.  Your local chamber may know about upcoming construction projects that can partner with you, or may know of other locations that are in need of sculpture. The chamber may also run your city’s tourism entity (if applicable) and therefore may have access to money through Transient Lodging Tax dollars for projects, which enhance tourism locations and attractions.

There are many possibilities through your local or regional Chamber of Commerce and the businesses that are active in your community. The Chamber will also likely know who the strongest community business partners are, what businesses are the most likely donors and which businesses have grants and other programs for community projects. Make an appointment to sit down and talk to your chamber about your project and any potential partners or leads for fundraising. 

* EXAMPLE: A group in Wilsonville, Oregon had a need for an equestrian statue representing the horse industry and was able to secure funds by partnering with the local Community Arts Council and qualify for funds from the local Chamber of Commerce, which received lodging tax from the city for managing the local visitor center. This money could be earmarked for projects that enhanced the visitor experience and in this case included partially funding this statue at the visitor center park. 

Convention and Visitors Bureaus

If your town/city has a Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and your project can be categorized as enhancing tourism, contacting your local CVB can be a great step in determining if you can access any tourism grants or funds. Some successful projects in the past that have received Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) grants are: art projects that enhance public parks, create attractions, enhance existing attractions or lodging facilities, centennial/bicentennial projects, War Memorials, playgrounds, zoo’s and more. 

Check with your local CVB about any possible grants or upcoming funding availability (IF your project qualifies as a tourism project).

* EXAMPLE: A city in Georgia wanted to place a sculpture representing a local well-known historic figure (Doc Holliday) during the city’s Main Street improvements, they qualified for funds through their local convention and visitors bureau (CVB) because they agreed the art would inspire visitors to the local museum and create a sense of place for their historic walking tours as well as a photo opportunity for Facebook and Instagram, which would help with social media marketing and exposure.

Government Offices

Another great place to start is at your city, county or local government. Some cities run the tourism entity (like a CVB or Tourism Authority), some cities share offices and efforts with the Chamber of Commerce as well. Other cities may have alternative sources of funds for beautification, city parks, city-owned buildings and/or parks and recreation. Most cities have an Economic Development Department, which can also be instrumental in downtown revitalization projects like Main Street USA. 

If your group or organizations wants to place a statue at an existing city owned facility (park, athletic field, amphitheater etc.) then naturally the first stop is speaking to the city and getting permission and support. If the community is in support of the project and proposes a site owned by the city, you have a good change of receiving a portion of the funds from your city government IF the project aligns with the city’s master plan or beautification efforts. 

Beyond your city government, there may be state or regional efforts that align with your project. For example, if your state is planning for an upcoming Bicentennial celebration (example: Maine in 2020), then the state will have a centralized effort to encourage communities to create projects within that year which promote historic state history and if your proposed statue is a historic figure there may be funds to support your project. 

Another example of regional or state funding might come from state Transient Lodging Tax. For example Oregon takes 1.8% lodging tax across the state and then Clackamas County in Oregon takes 6% and then the City of Wilsonville takes 5% so when you stay in a hotel in Wilsonville, Oregon almost 13% of your bill goes to taxes and to three separate governmental entities, all of which are required to spend some or all of that tax in grants and programs which support projects that a statue could qualify for. 

Example: A city along the Louis and Clark Expedition route wants to erect a statue dedicated to the famous explorers on the anniversary of their discovery of their area and believes the statue will mark a significant location and encourage tourism. This project would be a good candidate for governmental assistance

* There is a great deal of information regarding these options and for clarity and assistance, please call our office at 503-593-8002

Clubs and Organizations

Your community is often your best ally in finding ways to fundraise your project. Many service organizations look for projects that enhance quality of life and beautification or align with their mission. Many projects in the past have been funded in part by clubs and organizations with community purpose.  

Get to know the clubs and organizations in your community. Most likely the Chamber of Commerce will have a list on their website or perhaps the local paper keeps track as well. Check to see if your community has a Downtown Merchants Association, Main Street program, Lions Club, Rotary Club, Elks Club, Freemasons, Veterans organizations, Shriners, Daughters of the American Revolution or dozens of other entity’s that might be open to partnering with you on your proposed project. Depending on the purpose and proposed statue, we have seen many of these clubs and organizations fund portions of projects for a variety of reasons. 

Businesses

Sometimes, finding funding partners for your statue is as simple as finding a local business whose philanthropic goals aligns with the scope of your project. Many businesses have budgeted donations and charitable funding or departments that handle philanthropic endeavors and community engagement. Look for businesses active in the community and running advertisements locally, hosting charitable events or those with involvement in the local Chamber. 

The Chamber of Commerce can provide you with a list of all businesses that are members and their size in terms of employees, which can help determine what companies might be able and willing to partner with you in exchange for recognition and the positive public image that can come from said partnership. Writing a well crafted letter to the department that handles community outreach and charitable giving could be a great first step. 

Grants

Arts and Cultural councils

If your statue is going to be designed for public art purposes, with a setting in an accessible public space, you’ll have a better chance finding grants. Search your region for Art and Cultural Councils who support public art. *Warning: many of these entities support local and regional art only and may have stipulations on the artist who may receive funding to complete your sculpture (meaning they must be local). Despite possible restrictions, it is always worth reaching out to organizations that support public art and many, if not all, have grants and supportive funding for public art proposals. 

Historic Societies and Educational Institutions

Many proposed statues with educational or historical significance have a greater chance of finding funding through educational institutions or historical societies. Many colleges, universities and institutions of higher learning have designated grant funds for enhancement of grounds and beautification with an educational element. If your proposed sculpture embodies any of these ideas, you should contact your local educational leaders for possible partnership and possible grants. Keep in mind almost all grants are dispersed early in the year in regards to these type of institutions and therefore submitting letters requesting funding or applying for grants should be done in a timely manner to ensure you have given your project the best chance of receiving funding. 

 

1% for the arts/government programs

Many states have programs for public building and spaces, like 1% for the Arts, specifically granting monies to artists or organizations with the intention of creating public art for new or renovated construction. More than ½ of the states and provinces that are part of the USA have these programs including: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming. 

Good places to start researching whether or not your project qualifies for these programs are at Americans for the Arts, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and National Endowment for the Arts program websites. You can also apply for grants (most due in February). Here are some links to get you started.

Grassroots Fundraising

Events

Events can be fun for the community and a great way to raise money. We have had clients’ host auctions, beer or wine festivals, food festivals, concerts or performing arts events to raise money for their sculpture/statue project. A well-executed event can easily raise 10-30K with the right support. Our staff has assisted in a great number of successful events that brought in significant funds of statue projects. In order to be successful, partners are the key. Finding a space at low cost, and providing an experience that is new or popular in your area is the first step. Polling the community on what types of events they’d like to see and are likely to participate in is important. Would you be better off hosting a craft beer festival or a family fun day? What times of the year/weekend are empty according to your local events calendar? What are the demographics underserved in your region? Having a well researched plan of action can lead to an excellent event that not only includes the community (which can lead to alternative funding sources) but also has the potential to raise significant funds unencumbered by the regulation and parameters that come with grants.

Products

Big Statues can also help with fundraising by creating aspects of the statue that are valuable and can be “sponsored” like plaques in bronze that accompany the statue listing those who contributed. We have also had clients request smaller versions of the statue to be sold for fundraising. For example: A Catholic Church requested a large detailed statue of a Saint and to help raise funds, ordered smaller desk-top versions done. The church sells the desktop versions and funds the larger statue through the selling of the smaller statues. The cost of the smaller versions depends on the number and detail and size, but can be ordered at a minimum of 20 once the mold has been made and can be increased at anytime as they sell. They can be done in bronze or resin or 3D print. The church can set the price and make as much as they need. Because our policy is 1/3 cost down and 1/3 at near completion and 1/3 at completion, this gives time to grow funding of this type once the project is already underway. Having a small personal copy of a meaningful statue instills ownership and creates a sense of community around the larger project. 

Crowd Funding

Donation-based crowdfunding has been a growing segment for charities and non-profit projects over the last few years. There are a great number of options for donation-based crowdfunding that could prove useful in finding funding for your project. Successful campaigns start with an established base of supporters and a clear message of how the money will be used and for what. Some apps to look into are: Classy.org, GoFundMe, Kiva, RocketHub and Crowdrise

Doners

Ultimately, donations are the best way to fund your project. Each projects purpose, design or message will determine the most likely donors. Once you have a clear idea of what your statue will be and represent, we can help you create a plan of action to find and secure donations. Finding the most likely donors and the determining the “low-hanging” fruit in your community is something that we here at Big Statues are happy to assist you with.

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