KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A local organization that helps small businesses is re-launching a microloan program designed to help artists.

AltCap is bringing back its ARTcap program, which was put on hold while the organization helped small businesses through the COVID pandemic.

“The program was one of our fastest growing loan funds for a few years but when the pandemic hit and AltCap had some early indicators for what was coming for our small businesses, we very quickly paused all of our lending to focus on relief lending,” said AltCap Director of Advancement and External Affairs Megan Crook.

It was originally started in 2016 after local Artist and Creative Strategist Chris Dahlquist realized many artists, she counseled were struggling to get the financing they needed.

“Artists often times are working at such narrow margins that they never establish enough capital to build the next project,” Dahlquist said.

She says larger and more traditional lenders, like banks, often don’t lend to artists, put off by the perception that creative people aren’t good businesspeople.

“Just like a Doctor doesn’t learn how to run the office, in their training, neither does an artist,” Dahlquist said.

Dahlquist stresses that the perception isn’t true, and that tight margins prevent artists from hiring people who can handle the business side of their small business for them.

“I think artists are typically an entrepreneur brain just deployed in a different way,” Dahlquist said. “But it’s the same problem-solving, the same creation of something that doesn’t exist in the world already.”

ArtsKC President and CEO Dana Knapp says the impact can be felt throughout the community, due partially to the at least $250 million economic impact she says artists have in the metro.

“A creative and artistic community attracts workforce, attracts business,” Knapp said, who points out that robust tech and start-up communities often form in areas where artists have already established themselves.

“They are focused a little less, often times, living on the edge and they’re more empowered to not only elevate their creative artistic practice but also to ensure they have a chair at the table,” said Knapp.

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On the numbers side, Crook says artists have proven themselves to be great bets for lenders.

“Artists are incredible borrowers, they know their businesses well,” Crook said.

If you want more information about ARTcap, click here.