Arts Festival with No Artist Engagement

A new performing arts festival launched with no artist leadership and without consulting artists. During the first season, there were extensive problems with production, communication, and marketing; many were "disastrous" from the artists' point of view. No effort was made to assess or post-mortem the first year's issues.

Unaware of the issues, and with no mechanism for assessment other than the festival's self-reporting, foundations continued funding the festival. Artists who attempted to communicate concerns to the festival and to funders were brushed off as complainers. Artists began to tell one another: stay away from this festival

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I work with Artists Artists Give Up Engaging with Artists

Workshops without Artist Input

After a months-long program hiatus and staff turnover, the new education manager attempted to solicit input from artists about their professional development needs using an online survey. Very few artists completed the short questionnaire and many responses were too broad to be of much use, so the education manager created a season of workshops without a strong sense of artists' perspectives. These workshops were severely under-attended, indicating the focus topics were not of interest or need for local artist community.

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I work with Artists Artists Give Up Engaging with Artists

Relentless Artist

An artist working in our city is very interested in green/blue infrastructure issues at the city and neighborhood level. This is tied into her creative work to recast fiber as an urban, sustainable and people of color practice. She was relentless in finding out the information about meetings (which are not transparently posted on the city's website), attended meetings and ultimately worked her way on to the task force. The task force now sees the benefit of including artists in their work - but there is no mechanism for this to become the norm for the way the city thinks about constituting its community taskforces, services, planning and departments across the board.

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I work with Artists Artists Give Up Engaging with Artists

Strategic Planning Missing Artist Voice

The strategic plan for the city of Nashville created in the 1990s did not include a single artist on the leadership team for developing policy for the next ten years of the city. As a result, the arts received one paragraph in the resulting document with no mention of resources for individual artists and very little understanding of the impact the arts could have on other policy needs/considerations. Nonetheless, this was the official document guiding the next ten years of policy in the city and created an uphill struggle for artists. This should be a cautionary tale for future planning processes!

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I work with Artists Artists Give Up Community Connections

Unsuccessful Open Studio Tour

Our most unsuccessful program was our attempt to give artists monies to create their own open studio tours in their own neighborhoods. They hated that idea. They really did not want to be responsible for organizing an open studio tour or for creating advertising materials and signage. They wanted somebody else to put a tour together that they could just pop into.

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I work with Artists Artists Give Up Engaging with Artists

Non-arts Facilitator

There was a piece of the workshop that spoke about the finances and doing your own taxes but when individual artists spoke directly to that the facilitator said, “Well I’m not a tax attorney, I can’t…speak to that.” The feedback was “Well then you’re not the person that we needed in front of us.

In the partner program – because it is delivered by an artist who is totally sensitive to and supportive of the basic enterprise of just being an artist – when he talks about how he manages his time and learned how to do more of what he wanted to do and charge for it, they totally get it and they totally buy-in because it is all couched in terms of the reality of being an artist. Sometimes a business guy will come in and will talk with a group of artists based on his assumptions of who or what artists are…and sometimes that can be a little off-putting to artists who live that life everyday.

We’ve just had some experiences where we had high hopes that a certain individual, trainer, would be a great resource for our arts community and it just really didn’t work out. They weren’t able to bring the authentic voice that the artist responds to. If the artist starts to find that the person standing in front of the room or across the table from them doesn’t really know what it’s like to walk in the artist’s shoes, then they just become very skeptical of that person’s credibility. We find it’s just not a very productive professional development experience.

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I work with Artists Artists Give Up Services and Programs

Tickets instead of pay

There was one time very early on in the creative catalyst program, when our creative catalyst coordinator was working on an art demo project. There was a festival downtown and the creative catalyst wanted to do something with it so they went out and recruited a bunch of aerosol artists to use these art cubes we had built, doing aerosol art outside onsite at this festival as a part of community engagement for creative catalyst. When I realized that they had lined up all these artists that were willing to donate their services – the only thing we had done was buy the paint – it actually bothered me because we don’t generally ask artists to work for nothing. So, as a thank you to them, because they were already lined up and the event was about to happen, we ended up giving all the artists who participated vouchers for tickets to come see a show. They got two free tickets to a show of their choice.

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I work with Artists Artists Give Up Paying Artists