Tips for managing small budgets with big results

We give you some practical advice for making the most of a very small budget to put on an excellent arts project. 

Tips for managing small budgets with big results

Money isn’t everything, but when it comes to running events money can be a luxury that can help bring your vision to life. However, most events or art projects run on little to no budgets, or as the phrase goes, on a shoestring budget. What can you do to ensure your project has the big impact you intend, with the smallest budget? 

Find old treasures

Vinted, charity shops, car boot sales - you can find loads of items that others are getting rid of for pennies. You may find materials for costumes, art materials, lighting, old cameras, books and resources, or other random but exciting items you hadn’t thought to use! Why not ask a few people to help you out and hunt their local charity shops? You could put a general call out on social media to see what people can find. You might be surprised at how generous people can be. Create a wish list of items and see what you gather together. 

Borrow (but don’t steal!)

Ask your community, arts venue, Arts Award group, etc, if anyone has items you might be able to borrow and return. Maybe you need a professional camera to record your show, maybe you need vintage dresses for costumes or a microphone PA set? You could ask your local theatre for a loan from their costume department! You never know what your local community might have and how willing people are to help out. Write a list of items you need and pin it on local notice boards, message your friends and share with your networks to see what people can loan you. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

As long as you're not profiting from the project you’re running (and not sharing the money where it may be needed), it’s fine to ask people to help out for free. Most libraries or community venues will happily offer venue space for free. Ask your friends, colleagues, facilitators and family what hidden skills they have, or what professionals they might know who may have equipment and skills they’re willing to donate to help out. Share with them your ambitions for your project, where you’re at in your Arts Award journey, and why it matters to you. Most people will be willing to either help out themselves or sign-post you to someone or something else that will help. 

Do the free things

Promote your show on multiple social media platforms, ask local arts and community groups to share your project in their newsletters, hand-drawn posters and leaflets, and walk around with a megaphone if you have to! Marketing your project or event doesn’t have to mean spending money. Utilise word of mouth and think about what other networks you can connect to and ask them to spread the word. 

Keep track of your budget 

Set yourself a limit and stick to it, no matter how small it may be. Try to note everything you think you might need to spend money on, from flyers to lighting, and be sure to give yourself a 10% contingency. There are some great free online budget management tools, but a spreadsheet or Word document will work just as well. 

Embrace the challenge

Some of the best films that have ever been made were produced on a limited budget. Shoestring projects CAN inspire creativity if you’re not too afraid to think outside the box. Do you really need all those props to set the stage? Or can your actors or dancers do it with their movements? Do you need a fancy camera or will a camera phone give the performance an edge? Audiences love using their imagination too and as long as you commit to it, they will buy into your vision. 

How did your project work out? Let us know in the comments or share your successes and failures in budget management on Voicemag.uk. 

Header Image Credit: Photo by Anthony : )

Author

Nici West

Nici West Voice Team

Nici is the an editor for Voice. She loves all things books, theatre, music, art, visiting other countries, anything creative, and sometimes attempts to make YouTube videos. Alongside Voice she writes and edits through her own pursuits.You can occasionally find her running marathons dressed as a black dog.

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