The Clark Hulings Fund Invites Visual Artists to Apply for its Innovative Business Accelerator Program

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National nonprofit provides artists with customized business training, direct financial assistance, tools, and one-on-one support to help them take charge of their careers and make their businesses self-sustaining

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"In addition to training and education, CHF’s pioneering program gives artists a new outlook; the freedom to do what is in their best interests," said CHF Director, Elizabeth Hulings.

On September 1st, 2016, the Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists (CHF) begins accepting applications for its 2017 Business Accelerator Program. Through this innovative initiative, the national nonprofit organization seeks to transform the art industry by helping artists better manage their businesses and overcome the specific business challenges they face so that they can be financially independent and make a living through the creation of their art.

A total of 20 applicants will receive free tuition for the fund’s year-long Business Accelerator workshop course, which provides tailored training and expertise on the art industry. These artists will also get individualized feedback from the CHF Business Accelerator team. At the end of the course, up to ten participants will receive direct funding to cover targeted business expenses, as determined jointly by the artist and the CHF team. The team will also provide grant recipients with one-on-one support to ensure that the funding delivers the greatest possible impact on each artist’s business. (See below for more information about the application and grant-selection process.)

With this groundbreaking program, CHF is filling a vacuum that exists in the art world. If visual artists are to thrive economically, they must fund and operate their businesses, often on a shoestring budget, while creating salable work that still realizes their creative vision. Art schools rarely teach business skills, but these are essential if artists are to seize lucrative opportunities in a timely manner, and navigate an industry rife with predatory middlemen who foster dependency by exploiting artists’ self-doubt about their business acumen.

Visual artists are fully capable of managing their own careers; they just need access to the right information and resources. CHF’s comprehensive Business Accelerator Program provides all this and more. Through the program’s workshop course—which consists of two broad strategic workshops, and eight deep dives—participants receive practical training that’s actionable in the real world. They learn how to develop a business strategy, be proactive about marketing, find buyers for their art, negotiate contracts, handle copyrights, communicate more effectively, and manage their finances and taxes. Each workshop is led by an expert in that session’s topic, and the deep dives include extensive time for Q&A, which allows artists to obtain feedback on their specific questions and hear each other’s perspectives.

Although the educational components form the core of CHF’s Business Accelerator Program, participants also gain access to business tools, PR outreach (via the fund’s blog, podcast, social-media accounts, and other channels), and networking events, where they can connect with their peers, as well as other members of the industry. Additionally, the fund’s e-learning portal—a considerable archive of art-industry information—is free and accessible to any artist with an Internet connection.

Beyond training, funding, and personalized support, CHF’s pioneering program also gives artists something that’s more intangible but just as crucial: a new outlook on their businesses, and the belief that they have both the right and the ability to break out of the boxes into which they’ve been penned. “Those walls exist only to serve the gatekeepers who built them,” says CHF Director Elizabeth Hulings. “We’re here to knock them down so that artists are free to act in their own best interests.”


September 1 - September 30, 2016


To be considered for the Business Accelerator Program, applicants must be professional painters, artists working on paper, and/or sculptors who:

  •     Employ traditional media, not including photography, film, or video
  •     Have had their work exhibited and/or published professionally
  •     Are pursuing specific opportunities or projects for which CHF’s support would make a substantial difference in their business prospects
  •     Are United States citizens or permanent residents
  •     Have not previously been awarded a grant from CHF

CHF does not give preference to any particular movement, style, or art-world trend. All painters, sculptors, and artists working on paper are eligible. CHF does not support performance, literary, or commercial work.


The 20 artists who are selected for the Business Accelerator Program will receive:

  •     Full tuition to CHF’s live 2017 Business Accelerator workshop course, consisting of two broad strategic workshops and eight deep dives focused on key issues (e.g., contracts, negotiations, sales, marketing, relationship management, etc.), facilitated by industry experts
  •     The customized support of CHF’s Business Accelerator team, and powerful individual consultations with experts in the business of art, business growth, and strategy
  •     An art-business toolset that includes a media library and a cloud-based inventory- and collection-tracking system for visual art
  •     PR exposure via CHF’s digital media, social/PR channels, and North American visual arts calendar
  •     Introductions to industry leaders (e.g., successful artists, gallerists, collectors, etc.); invitations to regional/local events in artists’ spaces (as available); and referrals to CHF’s core stable of vetted professional partners
  •     The opportunity to collaborate with other artists in shaping the program so that it addresses the challenges they all face as they grow their art businesses

From the main group of 20 program participants, up to ten artists will be selected to receive:

  •     A grant to cover targeted business expenses. The amount will vary according to each artist’s business plan and specific needs, but the total funding disbursed by CHF in one year will not exceed $10,000.
  •     One-on-one tailored business support and guidance from CHF’s Business Accelerator team to help maximize the impact of the grant. This support can include anything from helping artists with strategy and implementation, to assistance in evaluating bids from vendors to carry out specific tasks, such as designing a website or drawing up a contract.


Artists must apply online, and those who make it past the first round will have their applications considered by the fund’s independent review panel, which is composed entirely of visual artists representing various art movements and styles. The review panel will select 20 artists to participate in the program.

To be considered for funding, artists must fulfill all program requirements as enumerated in CHF’s agreement letter, including attending and participating in all workshops, offering feedback, and providing the fund with periodic updates on their businesses. Winners and grant amounts will be determined by CHF’s Business Accelerator team, based on the following three criteria:

  •     An artist’s original application and business plan
  •     The successful completion of all program requirements
  •     A demonstrable commitment to actively managing his/her business


CHF’s 2017 Business Accelerator Program participants will be named in November 2016. Grant recipients will be named at the end of 2017’s year-long workshop course, and funding will be disbursed in early 2018.

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Susan Morrow
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