Lean dance businesses and solopreneurs may not have the budget for in-house experts or administrators. Luckily, these four organizations offer resources and support on everything from digital marketing to finances to compliance—often for free.
Running a small dance business can be like trying to learn choreography off a video: You’re not quite sure if you got it right and there’s no one to ask. When questions pop up that you didn’t anticipate, you sometimes make it up and hope for the best.
Thankfully, you’re not alone: The following resources are tailor-made to support solopreneurs and small businesses in the arts, whether they’re looking for digital marketing advice or financial help, or even to outsource administrative work.
What it is: This resource comes from Pentacle, a management-support organization for the performing arts. It launched nextSteps in early 2020 in response to research the organization conducted on how to best help artists strengthen their infrastructure.
What it offers: The nextSteps website is a thorough hub of information on everything from pandemic relief, running a nonprofit, fundraising, social media, accounting and more. NextSteps also offers budgeting and cash-flow templates, as well as a host of additional information on its blog.
Who it’s for: NextSteps breaks down the resources into categories: nonprofits, individual artists, performers, dance companies and theater companies. Many of the resources are aimed at early-stage organizations looking to understand basic organizational and financial structures, but there is also content for more seasoned businesses and artists.
What it costs: NextSteps resources are completely free to use.
What it is: The Field, the NYC-based arts service organization, has revamped its model to tiered levels of membership, including a free option.
What it offers: Artists and arts organizations can access templates and guides on a variety of topics, like fundraising, balancing budgets, applying for grants and more. The Field also plans to add a resource bank of providers, such as lawyers and accountants, that they recommend.
The biggest perk of the free membership is The Field’s new website, which offers artists the ability to create their own profiles with a unique and searchable URL, allowing them to bypass paying for hosting their own. Members can upload photos and videos, and include links.
The paid membership level includes options for group and one-on-one counseling, workshops and tutorials. (Some workshops are open to all, and anyone can purchase a consultation.)
Who it’s for: The tiered membership model offers resources for both independent artists and performing-arts companies.
What it costs: Free to start, then there’s a paid level ($110 annually).
What it is: ArtsPool is a cooperative membership that provides paid ongoing services to members and that can help arts organizations with finance, administration and compliance help. It also offers project-based services for nonmembers.
What it offers: The arts-focused membership model creates an approach that is different from standard outsourcing for payroll and HR services, according to ArtsPool. It calls the approach “collective insourcing,” which allows members to share administrative resources through shared governance. Services that ArtsPool can provide its members include accounts payable and receivable, financial reporting, payroll, employee time tracking and more.
ArtsPool also offers free resources, such as nearly 30 policy templates on everything from diversity to emergency preparedness to anti-nepotism to lactation accommodation. Its comprehensive compliance toolkit can help nonprofits better navigate red tape and regulations.
Who it’s for: Membership is currently only available to 501(c)(3) organizations in New York State; project support is open to any organization anywhere, as are the free resources.
What it costs: Membership fees are a percentage of the member organization’s expenses; project work is a flat fee depending on the scale of the project; and the additional compliance resources are free.
What it is: Capacity Interactive is a digital marketing consultancy for the arts, but the company’s website offers a number of free tools that can be useful in stepping up your social media game.
What it offers: Capacity Interactive’s social calendar is a monthly guide to all the important dates ahead to which you could tailor content. Some are probably not news to you, such as Mother’s Day, but did you know May 25 is National Tap Dance Day? The calendar offers ideas for how to mark them in a creative way.
The company also offers examples of effective social media posts in its content inspiration gallery, along with insight about what made the posts successful. And its guide to social-media-ad dimensions can ensure you’re creating social content that’s customized to the specifications of the platform you’re using—whether Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat. Find more information and inspiration on CI’s blog, podcast and videos.
Who it’s for: Anyone—whether a solopreneur, a small dance business owner or a marketing professional—looking for social media and digital marketing help.
What it costs: Resources are free to use. (Some just require you to provide information like your name, email address, company and location.)
Avichai Scher is a freelance journalist who has written for The New York Times and NBC News.