Located within the Edgewater neighborhood, the Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) is an artist-run 501c3 organization that is vital to the established and emerging experimental music community within Chicago and the world. ESS serves varying audiences within this community including artists, listeners, and the public that is as yet unaware of sound’s creative dimensions. As an integral part of the sonic arts ecosystem, ESS plays an active role in the promotion, production, presentation and preservation of innovative and diverse approaches to the medium.
In the spring of 2014, a student team of Beatrice Schmider, Jaleesa Wells, Kristen Breitenbach, Ryan Hagerman, Natalia Orellana Calles and Jessica Gaynelle Moss from the SAIC MA in Arts Administration and Policy program were invited to propose some ideas in support of the development of a comprehensive fundraising plan for ESS. Over the course of a fourteen week semester, the group developed this proposal by conducting research around ESS’ past organizational development strategies, current organizational analysis, and future aspirations. This research included review of successful grant proposals, interviewing key staff members, and analysis of an internal SWOT assessment exercise conducted between the board and staff.
ESS is in a very exciting place in its history. With 25 years of experience and current momentum generated by partnership synergies and strong programming, the organization is poised to strategically illuminate and leverage its own significant story of impact on culture via partnerships, artist support systems, community building, preserving and opening up archives, and developing international networks. We believe this has the potential to move the organization towards a culture of philanthropy.
We organized our proposal around four pillars:
Activating relationships with the community;
Building the Board;
Cultivating relationships with high-level donors; and
Developing a fundraising infrastructure.