My son is currently leading art projects once a week at a Boys and Girls Club. It’s a great exercise for him as a future educator. He needs to create something that will excite a group of children and he has to do it on a budget. I had a similar experience when I became the art director for the musicals at a local high school. The project was huge, the budget was small. Learning to work in those parameters is huge, and beneficial far beyond the project itself. So many creatives feel limited when the budget is small, but really a small budget is just a way to make us more creative.
The trick is to dream big, come up with the best thing you can possibly come up with and then figure out how to do it for less. Use less expensive materials, recycled materials, etc. For some projects you can even get people to donate materials. Don’t have the budget or expensive paint, go to your local Lowes or Home Depot and look for the mismixed paints. Also you can do amazing things with those paint samples that you can buy for just a few dollars. The other place this was beneficial was when I started to travel more. Many of the places I go have lower budgets and so the cheaper I can do a project, the more income I have. One of the adjustments I made was to paint on Masonite, rather than canvasses, I can get a whole bunch of paintings for less than the price of a single large canvas and it provide a good strong base for the art. Many of the art stores such as A.C. Moore, Michaels and Hobby Lobby run a weekly coupon for up to 50% off a regular priced item. Use these and stock up. There are also a lot of online suppliers who do discounts for bulk orders. You can also refurbish things, work with throw away items, etc. It all depends on the project but there are a host of things you can do to save and still come up with something great.
You can do a lot of things to fit within the budget. The key is the same as with everything else in life make the absolute best you can of what you have. Don’t see a small budget as a limitation. See it is a way to stretch your creativity. Then go and be amazing!