Nonprofit Sector

Voices in Contemporary Art

Full Cost Bright Spot
A photograph of two adults, Mario Martinez and Steven O'Banion, sitting in grey arm chairs on a raised platform in a darkened theater. Mario, who is seated on the left, is an older medium-skinned man wearing glasses and a colorful printed shirt. He looks downward at a monitor showing an image of a Native American Yaqui Pascola dancer in traditional garb that is also projected on a large screen behind him. Steven, on the right, is a light-skinned man in a dark grey suit, and has his back to the camera.

Photo above courtesy of VoCA. Abstract painter and Yaqui Indian Mario Martinez in conversation with Steven O’Banion, Director of Conservation at Glenstone, at the National Museum of the American Indian NY on October 12, 2017. This event was part of VoCA's ongoing CALL/VoCA Talks series, hosted in partnership with the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) Program.

By Lauren Shadford, Executive Director, Voices in Contemporary Art

We learned how to calculate and, more importantly, ask for funding that covers the actual cost for us to deliver great results. Being truly confident in the full costs allowed us to articulate that to funders, and strategically decline program partnerships that would drain our resources instead of uplifting our programs. 

We recently completed a project that achieved exceptional results. Our funders asked us to continue for a second year, but at a lower funding level. We knew what it took to achieve the results, and had the conviction and confidence to articulate that we couldn’t commit to partnerships that would undercut our ability to be a strong, stable organization. In the end, our funders stepped up and supported the partnership at the necessary level. 

There are some opportunities we’ve had to let go of because the full cost of delivering the requested services could not be covered. In truth, that has been freeing because it has allowed us to think about strategic growth – moving into future years with partners and funders that understand the program needs while also seeing the value of the work we do. Those are the lasting partnerships that we need as a small non-profit. The work we’ve done over the past few years to nurture those relationships, diversify funding, and secure multi-year grants has put us in a much better financial position. 

Now more than ever, artists and arts organizations are in a financially precarious place; it is important for our sector to build stability and resilience so we can all continue to bring the work of artists deeper into the fabric of our culture. 

Read more of VoCA’s story here.

A photograph of a large crowd of people listening to artist Antonia Perez as she speaks about her artwork. Antonia stands to the far left at a podium in a large amphitheater with white walls; behind her, a massive projector screen shows an image of a rainbow hued woven sculpture entitled "Light Spectrum" that is made out of wire lampshade frames and crocheted plastic bags. Audience members fill the space, sitting on black folding chairs, green benches, or the amphitheater steps.
Photo courtesy of VoCA. CALL/VoCA Talk: A Panel Discussion with Legacy Specialists Antonia Perez, Julia Rooney, and Rose Nestler held at Pratt Institute on December 4, 2018. This event was part of VoCA's ongoing CALL/VoCA Talks series, hosted in partnership with the Joan Mitchell Foundation's Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) Program. Photo by Taylor Dafoe.

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