What to consider?
While you can carry out your work as a freelancer perfectly well without any formal legal structure, there may come a time where you would prefer to set up an arts business. Here we share some possible considerations and practicalities on how to go about doing so.
What type of legal entity should my arts business be?
As many arts freelancers know, it is possible to manage your arts projects without a formal legal structure, that is, you may exercise your profession under your full name, or if you have partners, under the full names of all the partners.
Without a legal structure you have full flexibility, for example, to not hold meetings in a specific format or pay any registration or annual fees. That said, whether you adopt a legal structure or not, you should adhere to best practices to keep your work processes and your accounts above-board.
When your projects grow larger and more complex, you may consider adopting a legal structure. Choosing the most appropriate legal structure for your arts business though needs clarity around the aim of the business, its mission, objectives and priorities. In addition, you should consider if there are like-minded persons you would like to partner with to achieve this vision together.
Setting up any legal structure involves complying with administrative requirements under the law. Certain legal structures allow your business to exist in perpetuity, that is, the organisation can continue to exist even after you leave or your partners change. In addition, certain legal structures limit your liabilities and protect your personal assets. Some government grants and concessions are also only made available to organisations that exist as formal legal entities.
For more information on the types of legal structures and the pros and cons, click here.
How and where do I register for my arts business entity I have chosen?
Registration of most legal structures is done through the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). You can register a sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, private limited company, or, if you are creating a non-profit, a company limited by guarantee, through ACRA by submitting an application online via Bizfile and paying the applicable registration fee.
ACRA’s website contains useful know-how on registration of a local business such as a sole proprietorship. For registration of a Society, you can refer to the Registry of Societies; for registration of a Charity, you can refer to the Charity Portal; and for registration of a Co-operative, you can refer to the Registry of Co-operative Societies. Alternatively, you may wish to engage the services of a professional firm to submit your online application at a reasonable fee.
Can I select any name for my arts business entity?
You are generally free to select any name for your arts business as long as the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is of opinion that the name is not “undesirable”, i.e. obscene, offensive or vulgar; identical to that of another business; identical to a name already reserved by another business; or a name that the Minister of Finance will not accept, e.g. Temasek.
For more information on how to choose a business name via ACRA, click here.
For Societies, click here.
How do I finance my arts business entity?
As a freelancer using your skills and experience for paid work, you might need additional financing for your business if you need to invest in tools, a studio, or have a great idea but lack the money to implement it. Possible avenues of funding include:
- Apply for a grant
- Borrow money (get a loan)
- Sell part of your business (get others to invest and own a part of your business)
- Seek crowdfunding
Our funding page also has grant application tips and a non-exhaustive list of potential institutions that provide funding to the arts. For other options, you may refer here for more information. If you have a charity as your registered organisation, you can conduct fundraising for donations and sponsorship in cash or in-kind.