Fringe Festival Artist Workshops

These recordings, resources, and notes from Fringe Festival Artists Workshops are designed to help participating artists through the self-producing process in whichever area(s) they may need some extra help.  

Artist Workshop #1: Sponsorships & Fundraising

February 28, 2022


Sponsorship Basics

  • Who will sponsor your show? Where to begin looking.
  • Your attendees and audiences – who has been a supporter in the past
  • A business or organization with a personal connection to you, your collaborators, or your network.
  • A business or organization with marketing connection to your material (similar topics, audiences, goals)
  • A business or organization that sees a mutually beneficial partnership. Can you bring people to their business through the partnership

Tips: Analyze how someone might benefit by sponsoring you, the opportunity lies in getting in front of your audience. Who is your audience? Where are they coming from? Who might want to reach them and demonstrate their support for the arts?

Do some Research! Identify artists in your community or that produce work similar to yours and see who has sponsored them in the past! This may be a good place to start in your outreach plan.

Finding Sponsors – Starting the Conversation

  • Attend an event your potential sponsor might attend, try to connect!
  • Social media is another good channel for reaching out to a potential sponsor — like sending an InMail message on LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Be sure to be clear, personal and professional. Don’t get confused for spam!
  • Find a common contact in your network and ask for introduction
  • Write an appeal email explaining why the company fits your show and how they would be featured and benefit
  • Call and ask to set up a call to further discuss

Sponsor Communication Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO research the companies ahead of time and make sure that your ask makes sense
  • DO comment on any positive news or interesting facts about the company
  • DO keep your ask concise and direct
  • DO have realistic expectation and DO NOT take it personally
  • DO convey enthusiasm, excitement and pride for your project
  • DO NOT send out mass emails to as many companies as you can get contact information for
  • DO NOT make your outreach too long or the reader will lose interest or your cause will get lost in the communication
  • DO NOT come off as negative, ungrateful or desperate

In Kind Sponsors

An in-kind sponsor provides a value in the form of goods and services. Consider what your show needs and be creative!

Some In Kind sponsor ideas:

  • Media Sponsors can offer TV, radio, and digital or print advertising
  • Hotel sponsors can offer discounted or complimentary rooms for staff, speakers, artists, and other VIP guests
  • Printing sponsors can offer their services to help offset the cost of on-site signage and paper collateral
  • Food and Beverage sponsors
  • Takeaway sponsors
  • Electronic sponsors can offer audio visual equipment for events and properties

Tip: If your arts organization is a nonprofit OR if you have a fiscal conduit, in-kind sponsors may be able to benefit from a tax right off for the value of their gift!


A template for an initial outreach email when you are interested in contacting sponsors. Be sure to personalize this ask and be creative! Use your own voice.


A template for creating a sponsorship proposal. Again, customize this to your project, make it attractive, and be sure to send any sponsor proposal docs as a PDF in your initial outreach email.

Grassroots Fundraising

Personal Letter Writing/Personal Network

  • Consider personalized asks to some of your devoted followers and audiences. Consider your personal network and edit the ask to the contact. This is not an email campaign, this is personal.

Kickstarter Campaigns

  • No matter how you are fundraising, you will need a landing page for the money to go. Consider setting up a kickstarter 
  • Shop around for the right platform and do your research on what works best for you. They all have different rules and benefits.
  • Kickstarter or other fundraising campaigns do not make money on their own, you will need to make sure the campaign is getting in front of people! Its not a set it and forget it fundraising method!

Social media campaigns

  • Be sure to include a robust social media strategy with any grassroots fundraising efforts!
  • Use every platform you have an audience on
  • Ask your colleagues and fellow artists to share to their networks to maximize your reach
  • Be consistent! Post consistently for the duration of your campaign!

Email Campaigns

  • A more broad version of personal letter writing
  • Gather a contact list from your past Fringe ticket buyers and personal contact list
  • Use a mailing platform such as mailchimp to design attractive email campaigns
  • If you are emailing from your email account and not a service like mailchimp, MAKE SURE TO BCC! Do not share your audience’s personal information. 

Employee Giving/Matching

  • Employee giving is a very underutilized method of fundraising
  • An employer may agree to match the collective donations of its employees to a particular cause
  • For example: A large employer sends out an email to it’s entire staff seeking donations from individual staff members for a particular cause. The employer agrees to match any contributions. Some of the 150 employees all donate small amounts, $5, $10, $20 and reach a $600 total. The employer matches that amount and donates an additional $600 to the cause, totaling $1200. 


  • Most funding for the performing arts comes from individual donors.
  • Identifying appropriate grants can be time consuming and labor intensive endeavor.
    • Can have larger results than fundraising
    • Be strategic about time spent on fundraising vs. grant applications
  • Deadlines for Grants
    • Due MANY months before decisions will be made
    • If applying for support for a Fringe Festival show, plan FAR in advance
  • Grants for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations
    • Fiscal conduits
    • Long-term operations support as opposed to project grants

Note: Foundation funding often focuses its support on artistic growth and sustainability once an artist begins to develop a creative history and exhibits the potential for getting to the next level of creative growth and sustainability.


Identifying Appropriate Grants

Chances for success are greater if artists  identify foundations whose giving focuses on:

  • arts and culture
  • geographic location is where artist is based
  • Demographic population artist  wishes to reach

Foundation Directories – make searching simpler

  • Foundation Directory Online – comprehensive, annual fee to use
  • The Free Library of Philadelphia has subscriptions to a number of directories, including FDO, and if you become a library member you can access them free through the library’s website.

Three Main Types of Foundation Support:  

  • Unrestricted general operating funds  (that can be used for salaries, rent, supplies, etc.)
  • Program support (for a program, project or specific show)
  • capital funds (for major building repairs and equipment). 

Grant Applications and Reporting Responsibilities

  • You will need to provide a budget for your project and an annual budget for your company.
  • The foundation application will likely require you to state benchmarks that you expect to achieve with the aid of the grant funds.  
  • You will be required to submit a report at the end of the grant period addressing the benchmarks and an accounting of the funds.
  • Do an honest analysis of your capacity to carry out the grant requirements before deciding to apply.  Once you have successfully applied for a grant, this will give confidence to other grantor’s that you are a good risk. 
  • Don’t be tempted to apply for grants that are not compatible with your individual artistic goals or your company’s mission. 
  • Mission drift usually ends up putting you in a less advantageous financial position than before you received the grant. 

NonProfits and Fiscal Sponsors

Many Grants are only available for registered  501(c) (3) nonprofits. If you are not a registered 501(c) (3) organization, consider seeking a Fiscal Sponsor (Conduit)

Granting Orgs to Explore

  • Philadelphia Foundation – Art Works Grant 
  • Wyncote Foundation
  • The Barra Foundation – Catalyst Fund
  • The Presser Foundation – Music Focused
  • Charlotte Cushman Foundation
  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Doris Duke Charitable Foundation 
  • The Shubert Foundation, Inc
  • The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
  • The Opportunity Fund 

Artist Workshop #2: Building Your Fringe Festival Budget

March 14, 2022

Budget Basics

  • Remember that budgeting includes both revenue and expenses, not just costs
  • Conservative budgeting relies on overestimating expenses and underestimating income, so that there is a built in cushion
  • Goal is to have at least a net zero (break-even) budget

Important Terms & Definitions

  • Earned Income – Ticket sales, concession sales, tips, etc.
  • Contributed Income – Donations, sponsorships, grants, fundraised income. Donations may be individual or corporate donations. 
    • Tip: Though not considered “income”, you may look for In-Kind Donations to offset expenses.
  • Gross Income- Total amount earned
  • Net Income – Profit after expenses 
  • Actuals – The actual recorded revenues and expenditures at a given point


  • Estimated revenue should be calculated BEFORE you begin spending money. Knowing your potential revenue will help you budget for expenses. Do not calculate your expenses and then try to recoup, revenue calculation and expense budgeting should happen in tandem. 
  • Budget for both Earned Income (ticket sales, VIP experiences, concessions, etc) and Contributed Income (donations, grants)

Calculating Ticket Sales Revenue

Ticket sales = (average ticket price)  x (expected capacity) x (# of performances)

  • Price – Consider full price, discounts, and comps. Do not calculate potential ticket income on full price tickets alone. 
  • Capacity – Consider how many of the available seats do you expect to sell. Do you expect sell out shows, or a percentage of the house? Be conservative with your estimate. 
  • Performances – Only calculate the CONFIRMED performance instances. Do you already have a venue booked and dates scheduled? How many performances can you realistically present?


  • Revenue calculation and Expense budgeting should happen in tandem. Knowing your potential expenses will help with fundraising efforts and determine your necessary earned income. 
  • When calculating expenses, be sure to OVERESTIMATE potential expenses

General Expenses

  • Production – Read your contracts! venue rental, production labor (may be included with venue), Sound/Lighting equipment (included with venue?), artist fees, sets, etc. 
  • Marketing – Though FringeArts does market on your behalf, consider your own marketing costs. Printing, distribution, design of assets, online ads, etc. (Can you get your printing done in-kind?) 
  • Administrative – Don’t forget administrative costs (local travel, insurance, permits)
  • Contingency – Always a good idea to add contingency (unexpected expenses always come up and this can minimize surprises to your bottom line. Rule of thumb is 10% of exp)


  • Record your actuals as you go, to track how your spending and sales compared to what you thought you would spend and earn.
  • Keep track of receipts! Good practice is to use the same card/account for all expenses on one project. 
  • After the production, record your final actuals vs budget, especially if you need to report to funders, or if you’ll do this show again!

Fringe Festival Show Budget Template

When building your budget, you may start with your own budget template or use this simple one created by the FringeArts Finance Department

Artist Workshop #3: Social Media & Marketing

March 28, 2022


When your event is registered as part of the Fringe Festival, FringeArts provides the following services:

  • Guide, web, and app listings
  • Social Media promotion
  • Email inclusion
  • Additional: guide + app ads
  • During Fest: app push notifications for special promos

Artist Workshop #4: Front of House & Ticketing

April 11, 2022

Choosing Performance Dates & Times

When choosing dates and number of performances to present, artists should consider:

  • Budget
  • Energy and Availability
  • Staff/Volunteers
  • Venue Availability
  • Audience Potential
  • Peak times for competing events
  • Best times/dates for intended audience
  • Best times/dates for neighborhood/area

What to consider when setting ticket prices:

  • Capacity – How large is the audience? Do you need to fill seats? 
  • Audience -Who are they? What ticket prices are they used to?
  • Budget – What is your expected ticket income? 

Ticket Price Options

  • Free
  • Standard Set Price
  • Pay What You Can 
    $0-20 or $5-20

Front of House Staff & Volunteer Roles

When planning your event, consider budgeting or securing volunteers to fill out your front of house team.

  • Venue Staff – CHECK YOUR AGREEMENT! Is your venue providing any staff with the rental?
  • Box Office/Check In
    • Checking in patrons
    • Selling walk up tickets
  • House Manager
    • Managing box office and volunteers
    • Communications with production staff
  • Ushers
    • Depending on the size of the venue, the production may require 1-2 ushers per show. Report to the house manager
      Seating and assisting patrons.

Run of Show Checklist

Artists should consider developing their own run of show procedures depending on their needs. Here is a sample checklist:


  • Check in with Venue Manager and/ or Stage Manager 
  • Give Box Office bank to box office associate (count cash in box to make sure it is at the appropriate amount) 
  • Set up check in equipment/ Box Office Table Set late seating reserved signs/ other special reserved signs 
  • Set up Volunteer table with stuffers, programs & badges 
  • Greet ushers at 1 hour before curtain, hand out badges, and suggest a bathroom break while they stuff programs 
  • Review usher instructions with the ushers and station ushers to their appointed locations by 25-30 minutes before show 


  • Open House w/ SM or VM 
  • Walk around the lobby and assist where needed : Ask people to take their seats at 7 minutes to show start time 


  • Check in with the Box Office
  • Check in with the Stage Manager/ Venue Manager 


  • Give the Stage Manager/ Venue Manager “thumbs up” to start the show anytime between 3 and 5 minutes after scheduled curtain time. 
  • Have ushers and volunteer ticket seller take an available seat, if no seat available issue comp voucher 


  • Escort late patrons to Late Seating at designated times
  • 20-30 minutes into show: put away TicketLeap equipment 


  • Open doors after curtain call is over 
  • Have the Ushers pick up programs & trash in the house and lobby. Keep reusable programs
  • Collect volunteer badges and dismiss ushers 
  • Sort through programs that Ushers said were O.K, re-stuff and replace for use again.
  • Turn in House report via email or drop off 
  • Check Out with Venue Manager