STORIES

The text used in the assessment tools are great descriptors, but its stories that bring this work to life. 

Below is a growing portfolio of stories from artists and advocates from across the country that can be filtered on the assessment tools, spectrum, and categories.  You can turn on and off these filters by clicking on the buttons. 

Use these examples to help locate yourself on the assessment tool and see how to move up on the spectrum.

Have a story of your own to add?   Click here to submit it.

Artists Creating Their Own Voice

We are certainly looking at how we support artists in them creating their own voice for why the arts matter and not necessarily crafting a message that is something that they can parrot but encouraging them to create their own message and, and telling us how they can steward that message out into the ears that will make an impact.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Advocacy

Providing Working Capital for Artists

We tend to utilize a tool known as the “Individual Development Account” or “Match Savings Account” for artists. So, this is something that exists in many communities to help people who are usually low-income to be able to build some assets, and to access some capital for investing in small business development, home ownership, or higher education. We make a lot of use of that tool. It’s funded by public agencies that have a real focus on providing that kind of working capital for artists. So, what we find is very successful for artists is providing these match saving accounts that artists will use to invest in the implementation of a business plan that they’ve worked on with us through professional development training and one-on-one coaching. That match savings account incentivizes them to save their own funds, to gain some more financial literacy skills, and then to have access to some working capital. This way, they haven’t just worked through some plan; they have some additional resources available to implement that plan. These are modest size grants – a couple thousand dollars at a time – but for artists it goes a long way. One thing that’s unique about that form of grantmaking to artists is that it’s not project based, and it’s not a one-off. We enter into a relationship with the artist where they’re saving. We provide training upfront and then work with them over time to create a business plan. They only get their grant after they’ve been working with us for a year, two years, sometimes maybe three years to develop their plan, implement that plan, and get their financial house in order. Then they receive the matching funds and utilize those funds to fix and take the next steps and try to take their art practice to the next level. That kind of multi-year relationship that we have with artists and this kind of grant facilitates a really powerful impact on the artist. Partly, because it’s not just project based but it’s really about their whole art practice.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Funding Individual Artists

Creating a Platform for New Work

We have a grant that gives artists money to create new work, and then we provide a platform for them to speak about that work and how they see that work in conversation with the community. We take the backseat to that process. We allow them to shape and provide focus for that process to happen, for them to connect to the community. So, we just set the table, and they take charge of what they do or say on that platform.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Funding Individual Artists

Equity Is Our Driving Force

I think our agency’s commitment to equity is our driving force. It’s is the lens through which we’re thinking about all of our work, all of our processes, every form, every selection, every community meeting, even how we work in our office, our hiring practices, what language we use, et cetera. We’re constantly questioning our own processes and the way we function. We’ve seen immense growth and so much more community buy-in and so much more artist buy-in because we’re working this way. I’ve been with the agency for six years and the change has been spectacular. It’s because equity is the lens through which we are filtering everything we do.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Power (open, equitable, and culturally relevant)

We Talk to the Population We Intend to Serve First

What we’re most proud of is whenever we offer a new program or a new service for artists in our community, we stop and make sure that we talk to the population that we are intending to serve before we design anything as an organization. I think that grass roots approach to programming really empowers artists in our community to be stakeholders in the work moving forward.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Power (open, equitable, and culturally relevant)

Fostering New Appreciation for the Work of Marginalized Artists

Last year we did a program with the state hospital that’s located in our town. It used to be called the hospital for the criminally insane, and there are a number of patients who are residents there who are very talented artists but of course due to restrictions, budgets, and security, they can’t make contact with the community. We did a first-ever exhibition of work by those patients, and it brought to our exhibitions hundreds more people than ever before. There was a new appreciation for their work as artists, and the focus wasn’t on their illness or diagnosis or the context of their work. We even had a private reception for those who weren’t able to be out in public – and there were members of the arts center community there so those artists interacted with our artists in ways that never would have happened otherwise. They also sold a lot of work, which certainly wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Power (open, equitable, and culturally relevant)

A Learning Agenda That’s Both Internal & External

“Organizational capacity” is actually one of the funding criteria that we use to evaluate our grantees. Continuous improvement is important here, and we consider that not only for the 200+ organizations that we support each year. We need to ensure that organizationally we are doing the same thing, holding ourselves to the same standard. So, we value that even as a small team of eight people running a ten-year old organization, we’ve worked hard to continuously improve our grant program. We’ve sought feedback from those that we support and those that we do not support, to gauge awareness of our organization, and to learn how we can better steward the funds that we have been entrusted in order to best serve the community. We do this all in line with our mission, which is to inspire and strengthen the community by investing in arts and culture. We’ve expanded our capacity in other ways as well: we have grown our team slowly and over time, consistently evaluated ourselves, and committed ourselves organizationally to a learning agenda that’s both internal and external. So, while we provide learning opportunities for the organizations and individual artists that we support, we, too, are committed to building our knowledge of relevant topics to our work. This year specifically our whole team is committed to a learning agenda around diversity, equity, and inclusion. So, because we named that as a primary value of our organization, it’s been something that we know we have to play an active role in promoting. We have to expect to grow in that area through the groups that we fund and serve, but also we must be committed to building capacity for that work internally over time.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Organizational Capacity

Readying Artists to Work in Community

The Hatch Training Intensive is a program of C4 Atlanta specifically targeted towards readying artists to work in community-centric art projects in ways that are both sustainable and meaningful to all involved stakeholders. The program embeds equity and access as well as tools for listening and reflection throughout.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Community Connections

Creating a Conscious Base of Shared Power

Travis Laughlin, Senior Director of Programs for the Joan Mitchell Foundation, describes their holistic approach to supporting artists including a key strategy of fostering community between artists.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Power (open, equitable, and culturally relevant)

Creating a Platform for Artist Activism

Max Slavkin, Co-Founder & CEO of Creative Action Network, tells the story of the organization’s founding inspired by the impact of the Shephard Fairy HOPE poster on President Barack Obama’s political campaign.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Advocacy

Open Dialogue with Artists to Ensure Equitable Pay

Heather Pontonio, Art Program Director for the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, describes using multiple perspectives, open communication, and trust to create a process that will result in fair pay to artists.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Paying Artists

Deep Listening to Artists

Cézanne Charles, Director of Creative Industries for Creative Many, describes the organization's process of stepping outside its comfort zone and engaging in deep conversations with artists to understand artists' needs when interfacing with communities.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Community Connections

Fostering an Expansive and Consequential Conversation

Helen Kauder, Executive Director of Artspace, shares a story where the organization supported an artist's work on racial bias in the criminal justice system by expanding the framework for the conversation and including a broad range of constituents.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Community Connections

Leading on Investment in Artists with Disabilities

Sara Slawnik, Director of Programs at 3Arts, shares about their focus on supporting diverse voices in the artist community with an emphasis on women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Thrive Power (open, equitable, and culturally relevant)

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Sol Aramendi

In this A Blade of Grass FIELDWORKS, artist Sol Aramendi collaborates with immigrant day laborers, artists, developers, lawyers, and organizers to create a smartphone app. The objective of the app is to combat wage theft.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Laura Chipley

This A Blade of Grass FIELDWORKS features artist Laura Chipley who, in collaboration with other individuals, has created a multimedia education initative to combat environmental contamination throughout West Virginia.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Suzanne Lacy

In this FIELDWORKS episode, A Blade of Grass features artist Suzanne Lacy. Lacy leads a performance with numerous men in order to take a stand against the violence experienced by women in Quito, Ecuador.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Mary Mattingly

In this FIELDWORKS, A Blade of Grass features artist Mary Mattingly. Mattingly created a floating food forest which travels through New York City harbors in order to encourage the public to cultivate fresh food as well as to promote conversations about food and public policy among the public.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Nigel Poor

In this episode of FIELDWORKS, A Blade of Grass features artist Nigel Poor. Poor works with men incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison to create audio works for broadcast on public radio.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Dread Scott

A Blade of Grass features artist Dread Scott in this episode of FIELDWORKS. Scott seeks to engage with the community to create a work of art that will reenact the largest rebellion of enslaved people in American history.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice