TEAM Fund, a D.C. non-profit Hilltop worked with this past seemster, wanted to develop a brand new model of business that helped all kinds of artists, including painters, designers, and musicians, turn a passion and talent into something bigger. The project was to be a for-profit entity, but one driven with a social mission. To do this, TEAM Fund turned to Hilltop Consultants for help in visualizing how this kind of fund might function.
The Biggest Obstacles of Funding Artists: Risk and Creative Integrity
The arts have the potential to be profitable. From the design elements that define major companies like Apple and Tesla, to successful visual and musical artists, art-based industries are booming and profitable. To come up with solutions to obstacles and to create a revenue model for TEAM Fund, Hilltop Consultants worked reached out to a variety of organizations successfully working on different aspects of the potential model. After talking to non-profit art-funding organizations and researching various types of venture fund models, Hilltop Consultants identified the two largest obstacles of arts-based funding for up-and-coming artists: the inevitable riskiness of the business and the need to maintain creative integrity. An ideal model would require creative solutions to both of these potential pitfalls.
Solution for Risk: Incubating and Diversifying
Incubators are a commonly-used tool for initial phases of start-ups. They are a space where entrepreneurs can work and learn with others as they begin to launch their businesses. Incubators also often provide aspect to future investors. Applied to artists, an incubator would allow investors for the venture fund to carefully watch over the actions and work of the artists and evaluate them on how they use their resources before providing them with substantial funding. Additionally, to limit the inevitable riskiness of art, Hilltop Consultants recommended creating a pooled portfolio of a diverse set of artists. In this way, investors could eliminate the high risks of investing in a single artist. The portfolio would increase the chance for investors to receive positive returns on investment.
Solution for Creative Integrity: Multiple Investors and Terms of Agreement
In forms of individual investing, the investor has the ability to outline terms of agreement that often involve control over creative decisions. In the portfolio model, because all investors invest in the portfolio, the entire fund will be the only entity that is allowed to leverage any sort of control over artists, not individual investors. The fund could then outline terms of agreement that only permit control over business decisions, while protecting all creative decision making processes for the artists themselves.
TEAM Fund’s vision for a venture fund model for artists was something new. Hilltop Consultants helped identify the ideal model and restrictions that would be necessary to combat potential pitfalls of the classic model. To do so, the team researched and studied practices and obstacles of art-funders and venture fund models and combining them in a way that would best suit the mission of TEAM Fund. In the end, Hilltop Consultants presented TEAM Fund with a workable revenue model for both a venture fund and an incubator for the arts.