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I Work With Artists

  • A few notes before you jump in:


“We” in the rubric can refer to any group, organization, or network that works—or wants to work—with artists. You are invited to define your own “we” in the way that seems most generative for your work.

The rows or categories are extensive, interrelated, and meant to underscore the overall ecosystem affecting artists.

If a rubric row doesn’t apply to your work, ask: who else in my community might it apply to? And does the row allow me and them to thoughtfully and rigorously assess their work?

We encourage you to start working with the rubric within your work, communities, organizations, public processes, practice, etc. The order of the rows can be changed based on your needs. You are welcome to modify the rubric for the task at hand.

The tool below is a draft. This represents the best thinking so far of the group that has created it. But it's not done yet - and potentially will never be finalized. Other voices (like yourself) will share ideas or revisions to the language that has not yet been addressed or could be better said. Other constituencies will see this project and share more ways to improve this tool. And hopefully the current highest level (thriving) will lead to an even higher goal.

Feel free to complete the survey below.  If you need to stop midway, simply scroll to the end of the survey and make sure you bookmark this page to save your answers. 

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This bookmark is sharable - so feel free to complete it for a project and then share it with coworkers and other colleagues on the project to see if they agree.  It's a great tool to use before you start to project to set clear expectations for the outcomes you are working towards.

After the survvey you will see the full tool with your responses highlighted as well as links to stories the bring the categories to life and links to resources both about the rubric and its contents.
Finally, you're not in this alone!  There are people like you all across the country exploring this tool.  Connect with the growing network on social media.  Sign-up for updates and connect with others.  Together, we can all set the conditions so that ARTISTS THR!VE! 

Engaging with Artists






Services and Programs





Paying Artists




Community Connections








Advocacy





Funding Individual Artists




Power (open, equitable, and culturally relevant)







Organizational Capacity








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Make sure you bookmark this page to return to your results in the future!

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Be part of making this a Movement!

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Submit your results to us to help aggregate responses.
Share this on social media and encourage others to complete the assessment.
Submit a story that helps bring the descriptors to life!
Submit feedback as the tools are continually revised and updated.

Bookmark your results to making returning and updating your results easier.  You can actually complete the survey multiple times and get different bookmarks - which means you can name the bookmarks to reference your organization, a project, a community conversation, or your own work. 

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Please share your responses, suggestions, ideas and more on how to improve the tools.


This is a DRAFT, first attempts at putting into words how artists do and don’t thrive. The tool will be changed, expanded, and clarified based on your input.

Your responses might flow from thoughts like these:
~ How might I use the rubric to assess my work?
~ Which parts would are most useful?
~ What is clear and strong?
~ What is confusing?
~ What is missing?

Engaging with Artists

Artists Give Up

Artists Struggle

Artists Survive

Artists Thrive

We do not engage with artists.

We have limited engagement with and curiosity about artists and their needs.

We frequently engage with artists and are open to and curious about artists’ skills and needs.

We always seek out, engage and partner with artists, and their skills and needs guide our work.

We see artists as needy.

We see artists as competent.

We see artists as skilled.

We see artists as leaders.

Artists do not seek us out.

Artists only seek us out as a last resort.

Artists call us for guidance and to share their insights, successes, and challenges.

Artists actively engage us as their partners in all aspects of their practice.

We have no outreach mechanisms for artist input.

When we do seek input from artists, it often lacks full intention or purpose and/or it is likely to be with an exclusive or limited group of artists.

We utilize an array of informal and formal outreach mechanisms for getting artist input on projects.

We partner with artists to craft a full array of outreach mechanisms and feedback loops for ongoing input on all projects, processes and organizational development.

The value and role of the artist is missing from our work.

The value and role of the artist minimally guides our work.

The value and role of the artist consistently guides our work.

The value and role of the artist is the central guide to our work.

Services and Programs

Artists Give Up

Artists Struggle

Artists Survive

Artists Thrive

We do not offer services and programs targeted to artists.

We offer infrequent, limited, or not well-publicized artist-targeted programs.

We offer ongoing programs and trainings relevant to artists across disciplines, career points, and cultural backgrounds.

We offer high quality, accessible, rigorous, stable and regular services for artists that continually evolve and adapt to new art forms.

We just do what we do, never coordinating or linking our programs to other resources.

We are aware of local programs that are relevant to our work and we avoid duplicating services (e.g., small business association offerings, financial literacy programs, etc.).

We connect our programming to resources locally and nationally and try not to duplicate or offer conflicting programs. (e.g., small business association offerings, financial literacy programs, cross sector offerings, etc.).

We coordinate our work locally and nationally, within and across sectors, to build a comprehensive and responsive network of resources (e.g., peer networking with small business associations, financial literacy providers, cross sector professional development, etc.).

We do not invite artists to traditional business or general audience services or programs.

We rely on artists to translate non-arts specific resources themselves in order for it to be relevant.

We try to include artist-friendly and welcoming language and tools in non-arts specific programs and services.

We ensure that there is artist-centric, welcoming and inclusive language and tools in non-arts specific programs and services.

We do not assess accessibility concerns when launching services.

Our programs and services have limited reach based on accessibility and inclusions challenges (e.g., schedule, location, content, focus on a particular art practice, etc.)

Our efforts to address accessibility and inclusion challenges include measures such as program scholarships, remote learning, offerings for part-time, full-time and emerging artists and other technical assistance/ support.

Our services and programs support all artists in our community through rigorous and constant work on equity, inclusion and accessibility.

Paying Artists

Artists Give Up

Artists Struggle

Artists Survive

Artists Thrive

We almost always ask artists to donate their time and assume the exposure is compensation enough.

We sometimes compensate artists for work (as budgets permit), but generally below a living wage.

We routinely compensate artists for their work, but struggle to fully account for all labor costs (e.g., artistic process, administration, community work, planning, production, etc.).

We work with artists to create an artist fee structure that integrates living wages into every transaction and initiative with artists.

When we do pay artists, it is at our discretion and there is no transparency about artist fees.

We are transparent about artist fees when it suits us.

We track and disclose the percentage of budgets that go to artists.

We set and share our robust budget targets that go to artists, and others and we hold us accountable to these targets.

We do not consider each artist’s unique practice and goals in terms of how others or we compensate or fund them.

We occasionally consider each artist’s unique practice and goals in terms of how others or we compensate or fund them.

We always consider each artist’s unique practice and goals in terms of how others or we compensate and fund them, but we have no clear policy or means to assert this as a standard practice.

We integrate each artist’s unique practice and goals in terms of how we compensate and fund them, and we strive to make this a best practice in the field.

Community Connections

Artists Give Up

Artists Struggle

Artists Survive

Artists Thrive

As arts providers, we do not have the capacity or interest to help artists who want to work with community.

As arts providers, we have limited capacity and interest in helping artists who want to work with community, resulting in unclear processes for collaboration (e.g., Individual staff are adept at supporting artist-led community engagement, but this expertise and understanding is not shared across the organization).

As arts providers, we have capacity and interest to support artists and community members in exploring expectations and roles for artists working with community, and we seek to engage and coordinate with service providers that are outside the arts sector.

We have dedicated expertise in and processes for supporting artists, creatives and community members who want to work together in their community; this includes building learning networks with service providers that are outside the arts sector.

As service providers outside the arts sector, we are not interested in establishing mechanisms to find or support artists or for artists to propose project ideas to us.

As service providers outside the arts sector, we do not have well-developed mechanisms for artists to connect with us or for us to identify, invite or support artists in relation to our work.

As service providers outside the arts sector, we see value in including artists in our work and we frequently ask artists to be at the table at the beginning of our community work.

As service providers outside the arts sector, we acknowledge our role as part of a whole system (community development, etc.) that understands the value of art/artists/creativity and provides resources and mechanisms to make partnership easier and clearer.

We do not pay attention to standards or best practices regarding artists engaging with community.

We actively track, utilize and contribute to standards and best practices that support collaboration between artists and community and we build tools for listening and reflection before, during and after artist-community engagement, constantly deepening our self-awareness and connections.

We have some awareness of standards and best practices regarding artist engagement with community, but we are not well versed in utilizing them and assume that good intentions will lead to good results.

We track and try to utilize standards and best practices that support collaboration between artists and community and we listen and reflect during artist- community projects, gaining insights into histories, cultural differences, and power.

We do not provide professional development and/or training opportunities for artists engaging in community work.

We provide some access to professional development and/or training opportunities for artists engaging in community work, but equity factors are not prioritized, so access is limited.

We consider support and community training opportunities for artists and we intentionally factor in considerations around equity and access.

We are committed to offering and contributing to best practices in community training with, by and artists. Equity and access are embedded in this work.

We do not connect artists to career advancement opportunities.

We help selected artists access career advancement opportunities based on our assessment of relevance.

Grounded in each artist’s practice and goals, we proactively connect a range of artists to career advancement opportunities locally, nationally, and internationally, breaking down barriers to entry.

We create new career advancement opportunities for artists, embedding their work across sectors.

We work in ways where connections among artists, communities, and organizations are governed by hierarchies, lack of mutual understanding, and inequitable resources. Community projects reinforce inequities and barriers.

We work in ways where artists, communities, and organizations have limited mutual understanding or shared power. Community projects perpetuate inequities and barriers.

We work in ways where artists, communities, and organizations have tools to generate dialogue and mutual understanding. Community projects challenge inequities and barriers.

We work in ways where artists, communities, and organizations partner consciously and ambitiously from a base of shared power, self-determination, and mutual learning. Community projects begin to shift inequities and barriers.

As service providers outside the arts sector (Small Business Administrations, Community Development Corporations, etc.), we have no desire, entry points, or tools to work with artists, and vice versa.

As service providers outside the arts sector, we have limited entry points and tools to work with artists; it feels like we have to “reinvent the wheel” each time.

As service providers outside the arts sector, we seek out arts and other providers who work regularly with artists, building a base of shared learning and networks.

As service providers outside the arts sector, we focus on and build partnerships across all sectors so that we can include artists in community programs and development.

Advocacy

Artists Give Up

Artists Struggle

Artists Survive

Artists Thrive

We are wary of artists who self-organize around their issues and goals.

We are open to listening to artists who self-organize and we may include their ideas in our advocacy work.

We offer limited support to artists who self-organize, and we make space for their voices in local and national conversations.

We celebrate, resource and build capacity among artists who self-organize. Together we strategize and share power to build local and national artist-centric advocacy platforms and long-term change.

We assume that we are aware of artist issues.

We have robust outreach and mechanisms for seeking and understanding artist’ issues and perspectives.

We do not have mechanisms for fully understanding artist’ issues and perspectives.

We have some mechanisms for seeking and understanding artist’ issues and perspectives.

We do not include artists in policy, funding or related advocacy conversations or actions.

At best, we occasionally invite artists into policy, funding and related advocacy conversations, and we pursue artist issues that dovetail with our own needs.

We regularly seek early input from artists to build inclusive, generative conversations on policy, funding and related advocacy agendas, and we are open to advocating together.

We always directly engage with a diverse and full range of artists on the development of policy, funding and related advocacy agendas. Together we pursue advocacy goals, and we collect feedback on artist’ issues to refine advocacy goals and develop new solutions.

We do not invite artists to leadership roles within the organization.

We occasionally invite an artist into an organizational leadership role, but there is no ongoing commitment to include artist representation.

We have dedicated opportunities for artists to be in organizational leadership roles.

We hold artist leadership as a core value and practice in our organizational structure and operation

Funding Individual Artists

Artists Give Up

Artists Struggle

Artists Survive

Artists Thrive

We do not support the creation of new work or individual artists.

We occasionally support the creation of new work, but artists are not clearly or intentionally supported and the funding opportunities are not significant.

We routinely support the creation of new work, including substantial grants to artists that address a range of conditions: timelines (short term, long term, multi-year), functions (project, fellowship, capacity), communities, and career points.

We are committed to the creation of new work as evidenced in our central strategies and robust and full ecosystem of funding for artists that integrates artist’ defined needs and intentions, timelines, functions, cultural backgrounds, communities, and career points. We also encourage others to support artists and the creation of new work.

Our applications and reporting processes are not adapted for individual artists.

Our application and reporting processes for artists are designed by artists and offer multiple ways to submit visual, performance and hybrid forms of art.

Our application and reporting processes can be adapted for individual artists, but the process strongly favors those familiar with grant writing.

Our applications and reporting processes include tracks for individual artists that are streamlined and straightforward.

If/when we serve as an intermediary funder, we do not assess artist participation in organizational grants and projects.

If/when we serve as an intermediary funder, we encourage arts organizations to include artists in project and funding requests.

If/when we serve as an intermediary funder, we expect organizations to include artists in project and funding requests.

If/when we serve as an intermediary funder, we require organizations to include artists in project and funding requests and we provide resources to assist in building these relationships.

Read Stories About Funding Individual Artists

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Power (open, equitable, and culturally relevant)

Artists Give Up

Artists Struggle

Artists Survive

Artists Thrive

We have no consciousness or intention to build open, culturally relevant and culturally competent programs and offerings based on shared power, the lived experience of the communities we are a part of, artist self-determination, and the expertise within the community.

We have a minimal level of consciousness and intention to build open, culturally relevant and culturally competent programs and offerings based on shared power, the lived experience of the communities we are a part of, artist self-determination, and the expertise within the community.

We have a growing level of consciousness, intention and action to build open, culturally relevant and culturally competent programs and offerings based on shared power, the lived experience of the communities we are a part of, artist self-determination, and the expertise within the community. We have an awareness and recognition of the many resources available to support this work, and a commitment to ongoing learning.

We have a high level of consciousness, love, and intention and a record of action to build open, culturally relevant and competent programs and offerings based on shared power, the lived experience of the communities we are a part of, artist self-determination, and the expertise within the community. We honor and generate the resources to support this work, and we commit to ongoing learning.

Our approach reinforces structural inequities, systemic injustice, exclusionary conditions and implicit bias in programs and offerings, employment and/or community interaction.

Our lack of capacity (financial, personnel, organizational governance, partners, professional development, etc.) to translate our intentions to be open, equitable, and culturally relevant directly and indirectly perpetuates structural inequities, systemic injustice, exclusionary conditions and implicit bias in programs and offerings, employment and/or community interaction.

With adequate capacity (financial, personnel, organizational governance, partners, professional development, etc.) we have begun to translate our intentions to be open, equitable, and culturally relevant and we are taking steps to address and/or shift structural inequities, systemic injustice, exclusionary conditions and implicit bias in programs and offerings, employment and/or community interaction.

With high capacity (financial, personnel, organizational governance, partners, professional development, emotional spiritual, etc.) we are adept at translating our intentions to be open, equitable, and culturally relevant and we are leaders in removing structural inequities, systemic injustice, exclusionary conditions and implicit bias in programs and offerings, employment and community interaction.

We refuse to be in the community to learn and talk about matters of race, equity and diversity, and we build no feedback loops for change in relation to these matters.

We have limited capacity to be in the community to learn and talk about matters of race, equity and diversity, and we build weak feedback loops for change in relation to these matters.

We have growing capacity to be in the community to learn and talk about matters of race, equity and diversity, and we have defined feedback loops for change in relation to these matters.

We have robust capacity to be in the community to learn and talk about matters of race, equity and diversity, and our strong feedback loops for systems change in relation to these matters are under continuous improvement.

On a practical level, our programs and offerings fail to take into account the diversity of needs around geography, time of day, transportation, child care, affordability, learning differences, etc.

On a practical level, our programs and offerings incorporate a limited range of options related to geography, time of day, transportation, child care, affordability, learning differences, etc.

On a practical level, our programs and offerings often incorporate a growing range of options related to geography, time of day, transportation, child care, affordability, learning differences, etc.

On a practical level, our programs and offerings consistently survey for and incorporate an expansive range of options and innovations related to geography, time of day, transportation, child care, affordability, learning differences, etc.

Our narrow and exclusive understandings of artistic value and aesthetics produce a narrow definition of ‘artist’ and create environments hostile to artists outside of that definition.

Our receptiveness to expanding our understandings of artistic value and aesthetics produces a broader definition of ‘artist’ and creates environments minimally more welcoming to artists outside that definition.

Our broad understandings of artistic value and aesthetics produce an expansive definition of ‘artist’ and create environments welcoming to a range of artists.

Our open, responsive understandings of artistic value and aesthetics produce evolving artist- and community-defined roles for ‘artist’ and environments inviting to the full range of artist practice.

The racial, gender, and sexual orientation diversity of the community is absent in our leadership, and there is no accountability to equitable outcomes.

The racial, gender, and sexual orientation diversity of the community is rarely reflected in our leadership, and there is minimal accountability to equitable outcomes.

The racial, gender, and sexual orientation diversity of the community is beginning to be reflected in our leadership and there is growing accountability to equitable outcomes.

The racial, gender, and sexual orientation diversity of the community is reflected in our leadership and there is full and shared accountability to equitable outcomes.

Read Stories About Power (open, equitable, and culturally relevant)

Resources

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Organizational Capacity

Artists Give Up

Artists Struggle

Artists Survive

Artists Thrive

We will not commit our limited funds or resources to meet artists’ needs.

We have not prioritized our funding or resources to establish or grow programs based on changing artist needs.

Our funding and resources include capitalizing artist services and programs through multiple streams to ensure broad support and sustainability (e.g., via our operating budget, grants, individual donors, workshop fees, and other income).

We prioritize, take risks, innovate, and have sustained, dedicated, multiple and diverse funding sources for working with artists. Our work with funders has resulted in long-term capacity support that covers a healthy arts ecosystem (i.e. benefits, affordable space, training, diversity and inclusion investment, board support, and ongoing consulting, leadership development, etc.).

We experience high turnover or are in perpetual start-up mode, therefore staff has almost no capacity to understand, work with or provide resources to artists.

We have limited staff with the time or expertise to understand, work with or provide resources directly to artists.

We have adequate staff capacity to work with and provide resources directly to artists.

We have robust staff capacity to co-craft and design resources for artists.

We do not invest in any staff professional development.

We invest in a modest range of professional development on what we consider core competencies, which does not includes skills to work with artists.

We invest in a broad range of professional development. Our offering doesn’t formally focus on skills to work with artists, but we wouldn’t deny staff pursuing such skills.

We have progressive HR development policies, a continuity of internal expertise, and a network of experts that enable us to work authentically and effectively with artists as our partners.

We do not consider artists in our hiring process.

Artists on our staff are not encouraged to share their artistic interests or talent with the organization.

We are committed to hiring artists and having artists part of shaping our overall strategy and program/service design.

Artists are embedded in every level of our organizational structure and are central to forming and driving strategy, program/service design, and assessment. They are also active ambassadors of our shared mission.

We do not have any mechanisms to measure or evaluate program impact on artists.

We have crude and/or infrequent measures to gauge our work with artists that result in slow responses to changing conditions.

We have various measures and pre/post evaluation for our work with artists that intentionally provide feedback to shape or reshape our efforts.

We have formalized paths for artist input and feedback at all stages of work. Our ongoing quantitative and qualitative assessment of work in partnership with artists is the basis of our strategy development.

Our board is not interested in working directly with artists.

Our board has some interest in working with artists, but they are consumed with basic fundraising, governance and planning activities.

Our board is committed to working with artists as reflected in our strategic plan, committee engagement, fundraising and more.

Our board membership includes artists and related experts who hold as a key tenet advancing the value and roles of artists in our work and in society at large. This value is reinforced in our leadership development, strategic plan, committee engagement, dedicated fundraising, succession planning and more.

Our staff does not interact with the board on artist issues.

Staff is often ahead of the board on ideas about working with artists, which can cause internal tensions.

Our staff and board work together to learn and be nimble in addressing changing conditions that may impact artists. Our leadership sees supporting artists as important to mission.

Our staff and board regularly work with artists in devoting non-urgent learning time and reflection to understand and improve conditions that may impact artists, including spending political capital on critical issues and championing support of artists in their broader lives and work.

Resources

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