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.

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Adaku Utah

In this episode of FIELDWORKS, A Blade of Grass explores the work of artist Adaku Utah. Utah, in conjunction with Black Cis Women, Queer and Trans healers, artists, health professionals, magicians, activists, and ancestors, leads an intergenerational healing village called Harriet's Apothecary.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Mel Chin

In this episode of FIELDWORKS, A Blade of Grass features the work of artist Mel Chin. Chin galvanizes 400,000 individuals across the country to end childhood lead poisoning.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Pablo Helguera

Artist Pablo Helguera is featured in this episode of A Blade of Grass' FIELDWORKS. Helguera opens a pop-up bookstore in Red Hook, Brooklyn housing twenty thousand used Spanish-language books.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Brett Cook

In this A Blade of Grass FIELDWORKS, artist Brett Cook promotes health and wellness through participatory portraiture at Oakland's "Life is Living" festival.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Fran Ilich

In this episode of FIELDWORKS, A Blade of Grass features artist Fran Ilich. Ilich created a coffee service that connects Zapatista communities to political movements in New York City.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Jan Mun

In this episode of FIELDWORKS by A Blade of Grass, artist Jan Mun combats one of the largest underground oil spills in the world by way of bioremediation in Newtown Creek, Brooklyn.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

A Blade of Grass | FIELDWORKS: Artist Jody Wood

In this episode of FIELDWORKS, A Blade of Grass features artist Jody Wood. Over the course of three months, Wood travels to nine homeless shelters throughout New York City with her mobile beauty salon.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Thrive Practice

Broader Access to Networks & Resources

The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, COPPeR, uses the AIR Institute curriculum to provide workshops in Colorado Springs that teach collaboration, design thinking, business planning and entrepreneurial mindset to local artists, creatives, business people, and community members. COPPeR has four trained facilitators who can teach the AIR:Shift Workshop. Individual artists now have broader networks and access to community resources, accountability buddies, and business planning skills. Also, because the program is designed to create local, implementable programs that encourage connections between the arts, business and community, we now have a new program that our local residents designed - Innovation Acceleration. The pilot program was purchased (new earned revenues) by our local workforce development agency - artists were paid to train 50 of their employees to access creativity and foster new ideas.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Services and Programs

Connecting Artists with City Planning

C4 Atlanta is working with The Department of Planning and Community Development to engage artists in the planning and re-zoning process. This is a new partnership but the Department and the Planning Commissioner (and his team) value artists and welcome input as the city begins a new zoning ordinance (the last update was 1980).

C4 Atlanta is offering the training to help artists better understand city planning, and to better understand the complexities of civic-centered art making.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Community Connections

Making our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy Public

C4 Atlanta has maintained a diverse service population since its inception. However, three years ago the Board decided to ensure that we should strive for inclusion at all levels of the organization in respect to backgrounds, but also in respect to privilege. The organization takes very seriously its role in the community as a convener; however, we also examine our relationship to individuals and how that power dynamic may have unintended consequences.

For this reason, we made our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy public this last year. We also reference this site in many of our public facing materials, and we ask that our partners understand our policy. Because we carry this through our work, many of the artists with whom we work began to examine their roles in relation to community, each other, and their practice.

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

Changing Perceptions

Artists who we invite to co-present workshops, convenings and meet & greet encounters are continually surprised when we mention that we will be remunerating their services through AZ ArtWorker. I seem to encounter the general perception that artists and culture-workers are lucky to be in these roles; therefore, we need not remunerate their work when it is not a tangible thing that we can touch and admire.

It has been most rewarding to treat local Arizona artists with the same degree of thoughtfulness and respect and financial support that we offer our national and international artistic partners. Changing and engaging in conversations around money and fair compensation of intangible creative work has been an unexpected and welcome part of the work the initiative is undertaking.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists

Seeking Out Artists in Crisis

Jenifer Simon, Director of Programs + Outreach for CERF+, shares how they work to respond to artists' needs in a timely and relevant way.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Engaging with Artists

Providing Opportunities for All Levels of Artists

One of the training sessions was a series of speakers who were professional public artists, fabricators, lawyers who specialized in the copyright issues, intellectual property, and other administrative issues. We called it “the nuts and bolts of public art day.” It was a kind of a crash course in all of the things that you need to know in order to pursue a career in public art, particularly in percent-for-art fund projects. We actually opened up that training session not just to the twenty-five artists who were selected to be a part of that placemaking program, but also to all of the artists who had applied but were not selected, because we felt like a lot of the reasons why those artists weren’t selected was because they didn’t have a firm grasp on what we were trying to get at in the application. We didn’t want to limit the sessions to the twenty-five who were selected but we wanted to make sure that other artists who had expressed interest in learning more about creating public art and placemaking projects had that opportunity to learn and grow.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Services and Programs

Artist Counseling, Not Just Coaching

The career-counseling piece is counseling. It’s not just advisement. It’s not just coaching. It’s really taking the person and saying, “Who are you? Who are you now? Where did you come from? What are your interests? What are your…strengths? What’s your personality type? How much money do you need? Where do you want to live? What kind of people do you want to be with?” This is a whole process and when people go through it, they land in places that are a good enough fit that they can stay there for a while and then they may want to say that “I’ve done this for awhile, what next?

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Services and Programs

Artist as an Economic Driver

We started a larger program based upon a model of some grassroots artist pop-up events that were happening here. They were organizing large groups of artists in vacant buildings and blending that together with some professional practices that they had learned from a community in Washington, D.C. There are no barriers for participation, and the exhibition is non-juried. First-come first-served gets space. You have to volunteer x-number of hours to be a part of it alone, with a few volunteer requirements. The last time, between visual and performing, they had about eight hundred artists participate and over twenty thousand people come out on one of four Saturdays for the free community-based event. That has really catalyzed a change in the perception of the arts in our community: the artist is now seen as an economic driver. Nearly every building that we’ve been is moving forward into redevelopment. And many of the folks that have come through the program are starting their own brick and mortar businesses in the community.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Services and Programs

Including the Artist’s Point of View

The arts council brings together artists on a fairly regular basis. Whether they’re events, trainings and workshops, or opportunities to sell their work, or whether it’s in the community. One thing that we always do in our work in communities is to make sure that an artist’s point of view is included. A really good example of the way we’ve done this is that we have what used to be called a cultural districts program, now called the creative districts program. That’s basically a state designation of certain cities in the commonwealth that have a large capacity for arts and culture. They use this capacity to develop the community and the local economy. They really use their local arts and culture scene as an asset. So, as part of this process to be included as one of those communities, there has to be involvement from as many sectors as possible.

Two of the main things that have to happen are: one, there has to be a flagship arts organization in the community, and two, the whole creative district is basically centered around this organization. There has to be a committee that works on the creative district and is committed to improving the district. And that committee has to include artists and other arts organizations, but it also has to include the local government. The local government can’t just sign on as a partner; there are actually things they are required to do, like passing resolutions designating the districts locally. They have to be involved in several other ways. That’s one opportunity where we’ve been able to give artists and arts organizations an entrance into the inner workings of local government. We’re broadening their reach in the community and elevating their presence. We’re making sure that their perspective is always being included in decision-making times.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Services and Programs

Artists Tell Us What Their Rate Is

All artists receive payment or honorarium for any services they provide in partnership or on behalf of our organization, even those that we commission for public art or those that are contracted to perform during the jazz festival. Most times artists invoice us for any service that they provide to us or for us. They invoice us, so for projects that are grant funded, we adhere to the budget amount that was submitted in the grant proposal. That is communicated to the artists prior to them being commissioned so that they are aware of what the artist fee would be. As far as the artists that perform in the festival, they are on contract. So they tell us what their contract fee is to perform. That is working with all artists on all the stages. For any other service that we need we ask artists for an invoice and they tell us what their rate is.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists

A Commitment to Always Pay Artists

It is our practice to always pay individual artists. We understand that we would never ask any other profession, any other person who relies on their talent, skill, intellect, to give their services freely unless it were explicit that it was a volunteer opportunity or something that fell in the realm of philanthropy. So, it is always our practice to pay artists for the work that we ask of them. We often get third party requests. Someone will come to us and say, “Could you get an artist to donate their time to create a mural?” or “Could you get an artist…” and we are very clear that they need to negotiate that with the individual artist and that we ourselves are not in the practice of asking artists to do things for free in the open market. We pay artists to do collateral for us, to create marketing materials, graphic design materials, and we always pay them for that. We help facilitate a festival here and we ask artists to contribute to the festival through panels, discussions, and participation in workshops. We pay them for their participation in those endeavors. Whenever we do workshops or ask an artist to provide their perspective or their insight or their direct talent, to informing the community or any other work we pay them to do that. We also pay them to perform: we haven’t really done formal fundraisers, but if there’s an event that we are sponsoring or supporting and we want to engage artistic practice in that, we make sure that we budget for artists to participate.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists

Creating Trust

It’s one thing when a large organization says, “We want to give grants to artists” and they award applicants with a check. The artists are rewarded for the quality of their art and the strength of their proposal. But the kind of relationship we have with artists requires a different level of trust: we are trying to understand their financial situation so that we can help them get to a better financial place. We’re trying to understand their business practice to help them get to a better place with how they run the business side of their art. That takes a high level of trust and that kind of trust is challenging to build in any circumstance, and especially challenging when you are at a distance from where the people you serve are living.

We’ve gotten around that in a couple of ways. When we first began our program nine years ago, we only worked locally. So we had several years of experience working in our local region. The trust issue was something we had to deal with, we had more personal connections and the ability to meet with people more easily one-on-one. As we’ve expanded state-wide and into other states we’ve been able to rely on our growing reputation and the artists who vouch for us and recommend our services to their friends and acquaintances. The circle of trust has grown.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Engaging with Artists

Staff Retreats for Reflection and Strategic Development

In the past year, Chicago Artists Coalition has initiated a series of internal staff retreats, each fostering a collaborative space and time for reflection and strategic development. Over a potluck lunch, staff members think through how to innovate within preexisting programs, explore new opportunities and partnerships across sectors and within the arts community, overcome obstacles, and ensure that we affirm the organization's mission in all aspects of our work. Maintaining this ongoing internal conversation and its documentation (often on the office walls) provides an readily available reference point for all staff members in both day-to-day operations, programmatic development, and evaluation.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Organizational Capacity