I think that learning to do more with less is always a good strategy for
putting together a budget for the art class, let alone living in today's
world of rising costs and limited dollars. Of course it is always nice to
be able to simply go and and spend money on an as need basis, but the
reality of those limited resources ia always going to be a factor at some
point and to be able to develop strategies for still being able to develop a
plan that allows you to develop quality instruction with alternative
resources in mind, is often ncessary.
Here are some suggestions that I use and have employed in the past:
1) Develop a class needs list that students can bring home or you can post
online on a school web page (possibly your own). This can included
recyclable items that typically involve no expense on the part of the donor.
Things such as aluminum cans (soup cans on up to large coffee cans), plastic
containers with lids (ice cream buckets, for example), scrap wood, rags,
styrofoam pieces from packing, wire (insulated and exposed), string, etc.
2) Check out businesses in the areas that might already have recyclable
programs or would be interested in starting one for a tax right off. I used
to use a massive sign company near my school from which I got an incredible
assortment of materials that literally cut my art budget up to 60%. Many
sign companies typically have lots of reusable paper and plastic sheeting
that are end pieces from large porjects that they have worked on, which are
extremely useful in the art room.
3) Contact paint supply stores that have cans of latex paints that haven't
sold and that they would be willing to donate. Sometimes they will also
donate brushes, tarps and other materials as well.
4) Visit construction sites and see if there is a supply of unused scrap
lumber that you might be able to haul away rather than their having to
dispose of it.
5) Contact your PTA / PTO and see if there would be a possiblity of
arranging a fundraiser for materials for the art department.
6) If there is no fee structure in place for students to take an art class,
discuss the possibility with your administration. We charge $15 per person
for each art class that we offer in my district which makes up approximately
50% of our budget. As the items that are used in an art class come under
the category of 'consumables', the students can be charged a fee for them as
they basically get to 'make and take' the work that is created as a result
of the materials being purchased. There might be state legislation in your
area that does not allow that, however, so it would be worth checking into.
I teach in Minnesota and it is legal here.
7) Check out grant opportunities that are available for providing art
materials to your students. Many large companies have such programs in
place as part of initiatives to help give back to local communities.