Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The below info thanks to Malik Lloyd of Find Art Information Bank

Government Opportunities for Artists

For years now in the Washington DC area, and perhaps in yours as well, there has been this commercial on cable TV about free money available from the US Government. Although I never gave much credence to the ad, the man featured in the commercial has always amused me.

He dons a suit, a throwback to the Joker seen in the "Batman and Robin" TV show. He is Matthew Lesko and walks on the Washington Mall excitedly declaring that the government is giving away free money--to get a better job, to begin a new career, to get an education, to start or expand your own business, etc. Most people, like me, however, amused probably view his claims with a little suspicion. Since I like being amused, his ads usually capture my attention. The catch is to purchase his book and a person's life could change for the better.

Recently, I borrowed this book from a friend "creatively" titled "Free Money to Change Your Life." Actually, I discovered that there is information beneficial to artists. For example, it includes the amount of grants that state arts programs award annually, as well as contact information for each state art agency.

The chapter, "How Artists, Designers, and Photographers Can Get Freelance Government Contracts," list artists whom received contracts along with the amount of the contract. Nearly thirty government agencies utilize freelance artists. The Department of Labor hires outside art contractors to do editorial illustrations, book cover designs, stationery and newsletters. The U.S. Postal Service employs freelance artists to support many of their projects, including posters, brochures, and stamps. The Food and Drug Administration contracts graphic artists and designers for editorial illustrations, exhibit designs, posters and photographic projects. The U.S. Geological Survey awards about $100,000 in graphic arts contracts annually. Even the IRS gets in on the act, spending approximately $650,000 annually on contracts with various artists. Not only do we learn the types of artwork agencies use, but the book provides gives step-by-step instructions on how to obtain freelance work from the government, including contractual points of contact and application deadlines.

In addition, there is information on how to obtain contracts in video production and voiceovers as well as for freelance writers and editors.

Based on the information read, I would say that his book is an excellent start for anyone considering freelancing for the government. However, with a $60 price tag, I am pleased that I borrowed "Free Money to Change Your Life." I was informed by a friend that "Lesko is a sharp and funny guy who has made a living for at least 20 years by compiling government information buried in public documents and enthusiastically sharing it with people in a way they can really use it."

The original documents aren't secret, they're just boring. I think Lesko would be delighted if someone saved $60 on his book by borrowing it from the Government - from the local public library.
You can also order the book from Amazon.