The Twin Cities are a virtual hot-bed for artists. It’s no wonder the Minneapolis/St. Paul area’s been referred to by more than a few people as The Creative Capitol of the Mid-West; resources and opportunities abound here at every turn. One of the city’s most popular outreach organizations is called Springboard For The Arts, a local non-profit whose reputation carries a lot of clout and respect on both sides of the Mississippi River and even beyond state boundaries.
A while back I attended a free seminar of theirs on how to fund your artwork. Before we got into the ‘meat’ of the discussion, Anna, the Springboard representative who was running the show, told us a story about a young artist living in the U.S. who needed to get to Israel in order to finish her specific project. Trouble is, she couldn’t afford the nearly $1,500 roundtrip airfare. “Okay you guys,” Anna asked the group, “How do you think she got to Israel?”
We all thought for a few moments - figuring it must have been something unusual - and then hands started shooting up around the room.
“She earned enough frequent flyer miles by signing-up for a bunch of credit cards?”
“She crewed on a boat and sailed there?”
Wow, that would take a long time. Ummm . . . No.
“She threw a fundraiser party?”
Good one . . . but no.
“She volunteered to transport important documents for a company . . . which you can do by the way.”
Hmm, that’s another really good answer . . . but no again.
“She got a travel grant?”
Great idea, but that’s not it either. Give up? Okay, here’s how she got herself to Israel . . .
She called Northwest Airlines on the phone and asked for a free ticket.
I’m sorry . . . Say that again? Ummm . . . since when do airlines just give you a free plane ticket? Turns out the folks over at Northwest Airlines thought her art project was pretty cool . . . cool enough that they agreed to help her finish it free of charge. Not surprisingly, this kind of thing doesn’t happen very often - In fact I’d never heard of anything so totally off-the-wall incredible before - but how will you know if it’s possible or not unless you’re willing to ask?
It’s true . . . sometimes the answer to your problem is sitting right there under your nose just wagging its little tail itching to be noticed. That’s essentially what Kickstarter, Gofundme, or Indiegogo are . . . three very real online opportunities for awesomely creative people like YOU and ME to finance our upcoming projects, and it’s all about simply asking for help.
My good friend Amy recently raised $25,000 on Kickstarter to fund her first short film. I have another writer friend out in Los Angeles, Ben, who fetched a whopping $150,000 so he and his creative partner could put out a graphic novel of their live radio program. And those are just two examples right off the top of my head.
But this isn’t just about asking for money, or even a plane ticket. Let’s say you’d like some help editing your blog posts. ASK someone who’s a good writer to read your stuff and then give feedback. Maybe you need some new portraits taken for your website. ASK a friend with some slick camera skills to help you out in exchange for a favor or two. Perhaps there’s this amazingly talented local artist that you’d love to mentor under . . . yeah, you’ve gotta ASK.
If you believe in what you’re doing, and if you’re willing to put yourself out there and ask for help - which I know can feel like a nerve racking ordeal of herculean proportions - surprising results, even miraculous ones, are absolutely possible. That free plane ticket? That’s a bona fide miracle in my book.
Asking. It’s such a simple thing, and yet so many of us - myself included - hardly ever think to just go for it. The only thing you’ve got to lose is a fleeting moment of personal discomfort. Are you seriously going to let something as harmless as that keep you from potentially realizing your dreams? Of course you’re not, and neither will I. Deal?
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