The Importance of Small Steps

The Importance of Small Steps

Small steps are imperative to success in all areas of our lives. Whether achieving personal targets or overcoming a bad habit, it all begins with a small, achievable goal. According to Melissa Weinberg of Deakin University, smaller goals allow us to reduce procrastination, clear our path to success and increase motivation and productivity. Without small steps, it’s harder to get started, and harder to maintain our endeavours.

But why do we dispense with this concept when it comes to arts funding? The Australian funding ecosystem is a sudden-death environment where the stakes are high, the applicant feels like they have to guess the correct answers, and if they don’t reach that first rung of the ladder, (or slip straight off), they tend to abandon the climb altogether. With many artists chasing their tails, and giving up when the entry-point is too high, how can we expect this environment to be conducive to quality, creative, experimental, beautiful artistic output?

The time investment is a major factor here. When the choice is between dedicating hundreds of hours to an application or working two day-jobs and doing one’s art, the choice is often already made for us. Especially when that application has a high likelihood of being fruitless. Some artists would rather do their art for free than spend hundreds of hours on a fruitless application (during which they were also working for free). Sometimes it feels like throwing dice in a casino, but the house always wins.

Nobody talks about emotion. Art is emotion.  It is expression, communication, reflection, and exploration of human experience, and artists themselves are deeply entwined in that emotion. We even talk of the artist ‘bearing their soul’. So why do we then put that soul in front of panels, awaiting validation, approval, acceptance, and opportunity? Can you imagine the psychological experience of constantly having your soul up for scrutiny? It’s enough to give one rejection-sensitive dysphoria. It seems impossible for an artist to suddenly divorce themselves of this emotional connection when it comes to seeking funding and validation of their work, yet there are very few funding opportunities that do not demand this of artists.

Some say it’s all part of the work. If you want to be an artist, you must be ready for a highly-structured working routine where you allocate suitable amounts of time for research, writing, application and more. Has anyone who believes this actually ever met a creative artist? The people who believe this are forgetting that one could easily spend a full time job writing up grant applications, moving their primary art practice into the hours that other people spend relaxing, having families, doing hobbies or socialising. Further, has anyone ever met an artist who can stick to a rigid schedule? Creative expression must happen when it flows, and many artists abandon the structures that require this rigidity, in order to pursue their art authentically.

At Armchair Philanthropy we created a platform which bypasses this harsh all-or-nothing scrutiny, and we call it ‘grassroots philanthropy’. We know that small, consistent efforts are tantamount to quality, significant impact. We saw this during 2020, with many AP artists sustained during the pandemic even when no art was able to be created. That is mindblowing to us, because every other artistic funding platform is project (read: results) based. Focusing on an artistic end-point counters experimentation and creativity, so we’ve decided to hopscotch around all that guff.

A sudden-death approach to funding the arts is doing damage to Australia’s cultural output. Instead, we believe in small, consistent and affordable contributions, that add up to a large, significant difference over time.

Discover and philanthropise new art in our Philanthropy Boutique.