If you hadn’t seen the press release floating around social media, Springboard for the Arts announced that they partnered with the microlending platform Kiva to provide artists a loan of up to $25,000 for 36 months at 0% interest.
Springboard executive director Laura Zabel probably laid out the best rationale for pursuing a loan versus a grant:
“Grants are great, but when you apply for a grant or fellowship, you’re putting that timeline and power and agency in someone else’s hands, to decide if you get that money,” says Laura Zabel, Springboard’s executive director. “At Springboard, we like platforms or mechanisms that put the power back in the hands of the artist. It’s a much more active way that you can pursue building your business.”
Since many of you may know that many of Springboard’s activities are focused in Minnesota, I should emphasize that this program is available to any artist anywhere in the U.S.
It probably also should be noted that this is only one of a few microloan programs for artists and it appears to be the only one that isn’t limited by geography or discipline. If nothing else, Springboard is breaking new ground by offering alternative funding options to artists.
According to the FAQ about the program, as a Kiva Trustee, Springboard for the Arts endorsement means they can “provide matching funds to help artists reach their fundraising goals on Kiva’s platform and a wide network of business support to help artists build and expand their businesses.”
The way Kiva funding is generally set up, the artist needs to come up with 20% of the funding and the Kiva community covers the other 80%, thereby putting less of a burden on an artist’s family and friends. It appears that Springboard will match what an artist raises with a loan as well, providing access to a larger pool of money.
Springboard has a whole curriculum of business skills for artists, consultations and other resources to help support those looking to develop and execute a business plan, regardless of whether they are participating in the loan program.
Since you have to attach a business and a repayment plan to the Kiva loan application, those education and planning materials may be a good place to start for people.