A funding model where a group or individual (the patron) provides funding to an artist.
Sometimes the funds come in the form of a commission, which means that the artist will complete a specific work for the patron. (A commission can be seen as similar or equivalent to freelance work, though the artist typically controls more of the terms under which a commission is delivered.)
In other cases, the patron provides the artist with living expenses or general funds with no specific expectations on what sort of work will be created.
Patronage has existed for hundreds of years and often carries additional social, political, and legal implications.
A modern form of patronage made possible through the internet is micropatronage.