Creavtive Conference for Entrepreneurs
August 5-7th San Francisco, CA

This August, the Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs comes to San Francisco, bringing three days of specific, hands-on programming aimed at helping creative professionals become better business owners. The conference covers both universal issues like small business taxes and intellectual property, as well as grander topics like Creative Collaborations, The Art of Publicity, and Getting More Done.

Oliver and I are on a panel talking about Alternatives to the Gallery for the fine artist.  Gone are the days when art was only available in galleries, museums, and the homes of wealthy collectors.  These days anyone can be a patron, collector or exhibiting artist through the myriad alternative art venues springing up around the world.  In this panel, we’ll talk about inventive ways artists can show their work and get funding for it, from art subscriptions to microfinance organizations to online exhibitions.

With multiple panels every hour, the hardest part will be deciding which session to attend.  If you’re interested in joining us to hone some skills, we’re happy to offer a discount to all of you.  Enter the code TPG15 in the discount code box to receive 15% off any ticket.


Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs
August 5-7
The Women’s Building
3543 18th St #8
San Francisco, CA 94110
CCE on Facebook

Looking back, Looking ahead: The Future for The Present Group

The Present Group turns 4!

Our 4 year anniversary celebration has been bittersweet. We are extremely proud and honored to have been enabled by our subscribers over the years to fund 16 artist projects, learn from and work with some amazing artists, and to expose a large group of people to new artists and their ideas. We’ve received a ton of support from people around the world who have been touched by the project itself and the works that we’ve put out. One of our goals in starting our subscription project was to spread the idea of art by subscription, and it encourages us immensely every time we see a new venture pop up around the country. (To see all of the subscription art services we’ve found, check out the “Subscription Art” links on the sidebar.)

The Future, Changes

As with many experimental publications, we’ve reached a point where we must re-evaluate. While the publication is far too exciting to stop, we have decided to cut down our schedule, moving from a quarterly to a tri-annual publication. Our price point will remain the same, giving us a little more flexibility in both the types of projects we choose and the way in which we spread the word about what we’re doing.

We are very excited about this move as it will allow us to develop some much needed infrastructure and pursue other projects, both through TPG and personally. Through The Present Group, we already have 3 major projects and developments planned for next year, and we’re chomping at the bit for 2011 to arrive so we can settle into working on them.

Current subscribers FAQ:

There will be no change to your subscription other than starting in 2011, issues will arrive every 4 months instead of every 3. You will still receive all 4 editions you signed up for.

***Special Offer***

Before this change goes into effect, we want to take a moment to offer you the chance to subscribe, resubscribe, or give the gift of a Present Group subscription for the same low price and still receive four works. All subscriptions received before December 1st will receive four issues. If you resubscribe early, your resubscription will add 4 issues to your queue, no matter when that resubscription goes into effect.


Coming Face To Face With The President" class='title'>Coming Face To Face With The President

Well crafted story about an under-heard point of view.

In California, Pot Is Now an Art Patron

A new funding source for the arts – reaping big rewards and funding many projects.  It’s pot.

Small Business Jobs Act: What artists and freelancers should know

Yesterday President Obama signed into law HR 5297, the Small Business Jobs Act.  A lot of it has to do with tax cuts for small buisnesses, encouraging investment and entreprenuership, and making it easier and to get small buisness loans: creating new funding for these loans and increasing the maximum loan amount that the SBA doles out.  There are, however, some especially exciting things for small companies, artists, and freelancers in the tax cuts area.  Hello health care deduction and total cell phone deduction.  Bullets taken from the White House Blog:

*A New Deduction of Health Insurance Costs for Self-Employed: The bill allows 2 million self-employed to know that on their taxes for this year, they can get a deduction for the cost of health insurance for themselves and their family members in calculating their self-employment taxes. This provision is estimated to provide over $1.9 billion in tax cuts for these entrepreneurs.

*Tax Relief and Simplification for Cell Phone Deductions: The bill changes rules so that the use of cell phones can be deducted without burdensome extra documentation – making it easier for virtually every small business in America to receive deductions that they are entitled to, beginning on their taxes for this year.

*An Increase in the Deduction for Entrepreneurs’ Start-Up Expenses: The bill temporarily increases the amount of start-up expenditures entrepreneurs can deduct from their taxes for this year from $5,000 to $10,000 (with a phase-out threshold of $60,000 in expenditures), offering an immediate incentive for someone with a new business idea to invest in starting up a new small business today.

*A Five-Year Carryback Of General Business Credits: The bill would allow certain small businesses to “carry back” their general business credits to offset five years of taxes – providing them with a break on their taxes for this year – while also allowing these credits to offset the Alternative Minimum Tax, reducing taxes for these small businesses.

*Limitations on Penalties for Errors in Tax Reporting That Disproportionately Affect Small Business: The bill would change, beginning this year, the penalty for failing to report certain tax transactions from a fixed dollar amount – which was criticized for imposing a disproportionately large penalty on small businesses in certain circumstances – to a percentage of the tax benefits from the transaction.

Are “Artists’ Statements” Really Necessary?

The pros and cons about that nemesis for most artists.

California Legal Requirements When Selling Multiples

Good to know

Fiscal Sponsorship: 6 Things You Should Know

Oliver and I are thinking about fiscal sponsorship for TPG again and this time around we’re trying to learn as much as possible about the process before we invest our time in applying.  I thought I would share what we’ve learned about how it works and what one should think about in choosing/applying for fiscal sponsorship.


1. What is it?

Fiscal Sponsorship allows organizations, individual artists, projects, or companies that have a non-profit mission to align themselves with a designated 501c(3) non profit organization and apply for grants and accept donations under their umbrella.

Why do people do it?
Many times it is simply too costly or time consuming for fledgling organizations or projects to set up legal non-profits.  Fiscal Sponsorship allows organizations to learn the ins and outs of grant writing and test out whether a non-profit structure is a good fit for them.  Sponsoring Organizations can create a bigger impact when multiple projects are pursuing their mission.  They can also mentor and assist smaller organizations  who may grow up to be big kid non profits. ..And I’m pretty sure some of the organizations see the profit they make through their administrative fees as a plus.  This is more the case when they have over 50 sponsored projects (Tides Center, Fiscal Sponsorship Field Scan, pg10.)  I’m not knocking them; they are providing a valuable service for projects that otherwise wouldn’t be able to get grants and it does take time and work to oversee the sponsored projects.

2. Different Financial/Legal Models

There are different ways that fiscal sponsorships are legally set up.  According to  “Fiscal Sponsorship: 6 Ways to do it right” by Gregory Colvin, the three most widely used fiscal sponsorship models are:

Model A: Direct Project
In this model, the Sponsoring Organization assumes all legal and fiduciary responsibility for the project.   The sponsored project becomes, in essence, part of the sponsoring organization.  The sponsoring organization maintains control over the project and all funds that pass through the project, not just funds that are donated to the project.   Often in these cases the sponsoring organization takes care of payroll, benefits, and disbursement of all money.  As they are responsible for the project, they may weigh in and have control over the direction of the project as a whole.

Model B: Independent Contractor Project
In an Independent Contractor relationship, the Sponsoring Organization still usually has ownership of the results of the project, but the project itself is treated as a separate legal entity.  The organization, in essence, is contracting the project to do its work for them.  The “work” I am talking about is the actions of the project that fulfill the sponsor’s mission.

Model C: Preapproved Grant Relationship
A preapproved Grant Relationship is one where the sponsoring organization and the sponsored project are completely separate entities.  The organization approves the granting process and the fact that the project is pursuing aims that fulfills its nonprofit mission.  Once it receives the funds, it re-grants the money (less its fee) to the project.  Financial and legal responsibility stays in the hands of the project.

I found this chart on wikipedia especially helpful:


3. Fees

Most organizations charge between 5-10% of the funds that pass through them.  Some will charge up to 15%, especially for government grants that have a lot of red tape to deal with.  The average, according to The Tides Center, is 5.6% for non governmental grants and 7.7% for governmental grants.  Most of the ones I have found in the Bay Area for Arts organizations range from 6-10%.

Some places require you to be a “member” of their organization in order to apply to be fiscally sponsored.  These prices are usually up to $200/year.

4. Which organization to apply to?

The most important factor for the majority of organizations when deciding whether to sponsor a project is alignment of mission.  In most cases, it simply works best for both parties and makes the most sense if the two groups share the same goals.

Though there are some national sponsors (like Fractured Atlas or NYFA), the second most important factor for most organizations is geographic location.  A sponsored project should take location into consideration as well if they want to take advantage of non-profit sales tax exemptions.  If they do, they need to be in the same state as their parent organization.

5. What can they do for you?

Every sponsor has a different program for their projects.  Each offers different benefits, like advising on grant applications, legal stuff, and organizational/business development, discounts to events or classes, different promotional opportunities, different ways that they are able to accept donations (like credit card processing, monthly billing of donors, whether they can deal with non-monetary donations, etc).

They all also have different ways of handling the money.  Some will cut you a check on demand, some on a regular basis, and a few have online tools to manage your account.  Most will make you provide documentation for how the money is being spent.   All these things are good to take into consideration when deciding who will be the right fit for you.

6. Size of their Sponsorship Program

One last thing to take into consideration is the number of projects that an individual organization sponsors.  While on one hand, the larger the number the more familiar they may be with how sponsorship works and they may have more tools and benefits as a result.  But on the other hand, many granting organizations and foundations will only accept one application for a specific grant per organization.   When there are 2000 projects under one umbrella, the chances are higher that you may find some conflict in this area.

So! In conclusion.
Some non-profits are very cautious about fiscal sponsorship arrangements and prefer to have a lot of control over the projects in order to ensure legality.  (I’ve read one critique of this process likening it to money laundering.)  But some are much more laid back.  It seems every organization takes their own view on how it should work.   The Tides Center sums up it’s review of Fiscal Sponsorship practices with the view:

As evidenced by the findings of this report, the array of policies and practices
employed by fiscal sponsors is wide ranging. From large to small,
sophisticated to naïve, and focused to broad, there clearly is no “typical”
fiscal sponsor. What is clear, however, is that there is a growing number
of organizations involved in fiscal sponsorship with increasing project
loads. Few of these organizations feel confident that they are “doing it
right” and, due to the complexities of the law and tax codes, there is good
reason for that lack of confidence.

Go out and be sponsored! Maybe?
Here are some resources to find sponsors in your area.

Fiscal Sponsor Directory

National Network of Fiscal Sponsors through the Tides Center

Foundation Center: A comprehensive listing of websites, guides, and publications about fiscal sponsorship.  They also have a web video explaining fiscal sponsorship.

How to keep calm and stay positive in competitive market

Lauren Venell shares some simple steps to stay productive and keep positive for any sort of creative worker.

Nice Art! How Much?

David Kestenbaum (from one of our favorite podcasts: Planet Money) interviews Edward Winkleman about art pricing and how it’s done.

Biz Ladies: Hiring Interns" class='title'>Biz Ladies: Hiring Interns

A great article (especially the end part that Grace writes) about hiring, working with, and planning for interns in your business.

Web hosting that supports artists.


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Lego Hello World
I wish all my printers were made of legos.

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google
Images from Life Magazine going back to 1860′s, hosted by Google

Coming Face To Face With The President
Well crafted story about an under-heard point of view.

In California, Pot Is Now an Art Patron
A new funding source for the arts – reaping big rewards and funding many projects.  It’s pot.

Notes on Portraiture in the Facebook Age

Celebrity Book Club: A List to End All Lists
Because, well, it’s sortof awesome.

Are "Artists' Statements" Really Necessary?
The pros and cons about that nemesis for most artists.

This to That
You tell it what you’ve got and it’ll tell you what to glue them together with.

Work of art: Online store for buyers, sellers
Not the TV show!  Kelly Lynn Jones from Little Paper Planes is interviewed on her project, gives us a cheat sheet to local affordable art resources.

How to make a Daft Punk helmet in 17 months