2020 Virtual Summit

Sept 29-Oct 1, 2020

I am inspired to go forward and do more, better. 
I'm looking forward to next year attending in person! 

-  2020 Summit Attendee

The Artists Thrive Summits (click here for previous Summits) bring people together through exploratory conversations, experiential learning, story sharing, and cultural and healing experiences. The Summits are designed to support you as we work individually and collectively to change conditions so artists can thrive. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the 4th Annual Summit went virtual and included more than 30 online sessions and opportunities to connect with artists, art administrators, art educators and others who work with artists. Recorded sessions are now accessible (see below) and they were designed to help people connect, be inspired, and share positive and transformative experiences and solutions. The content is meant to support learning and actionPlease refer to our Reproduction and Distribution Policy and Disclaimer at the bottom of this page when sharing Summit materials

Recordings from sessions on Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Breakout Session: How To: Budgets and Grants 101
with Shawn Rene Graham and Clay Schudel

Learn what an effective Budget and Grant proposal could look like. Walk away with useful tools and key strategies for preparing the important components of any grant application.

Breakout Session: Rethinking HR Post-COVID19 and Beyond
with Kim Mack

This session will cover the state of HR for Organizations Prior and Post COVID19. It will share information that help Organizations to understand and consider for their employees as it relates to HR and the current Pandemic.

Breakout Session: Introduction to Artists Thrive
with Casey Summar

This session is a great place to start on your Artists Thrive journey. Learn about this growing initiative offering activities, practices, language, visions and values of what it means to succeed and thrive as an artist – and what it means to have a thriving arts sector and, eventually, thriving communities. This presentation will discuss the purpose and goals of Artists Thrive as well as how to utilize the Artists Thrive tools and resources as an artist, arts organization or other group that works with artists to both advance your own work and join together to raise the value of artists in every community.

Breakout Session: Intro to Rubric Building
with David Grant

This session is for people new to the Summit and for those who want a refresher on the purpose and process behind the tools at the center of Artists Thrive.  Our goals will be not only a better understanding of how to use the Artists Thrive rubrics but also more confidence in applying the principles of formative assessment to your own personal and professional missions.

Breakout Session:  Working Through These Challenging Times: Keeping Organized and Staying Focused on Your Goals
with Suzy Kopf

In this 50 minute Zoom session, artist, writer, educator and spreadsheet- devotee, Suzy Kopf will present strategies for staying organized in the new work landscape of 2020. How can we make working from home work for us as creatives? How do we keep making measurable steps towards our career goals in a time when it’s hard to focus? How do we recenter our work to insure we are reinforcing our values daily? Suzy will present a keynote talk and then we’ll break into smaller groups to discuss your personal goals and ideas for achievement. Attendees should come prepared to participate in discussion. Participants will get the most out of this session if they complete the following exercises prior to the conference:

- Write an exhaustive to do list. This can take awhile and be done over several days. Start adding items to a Word document, in a notes application on your phone or in a notebook and keep it with you. Add every single task that comes to mind, no matter how large or small it seems. You will know you are “done” (at least for the time being) when your head feels empty and your anxiety ebbs (at least slightly).

- If you do not already, begin tracking your hours for all activities and tasks you consider work at least a week before the session. Again, this can be done electronically or analog as you prefer. Every task, when you did it, and how long you actually spent on it should be logged. You can download a free timetracker app such as Clockify, Toggl or HoursTracker and log in and out of tasks throughout your day. You do not need log hours for leisure activities unless you’d like to. Work is not limited to paid labor— if you consider tasks like childcare, cooking, cleaning and exercising to be work you’d like to track, you should.

Breakout Session: Insights for Artists on Digital Exhibition-Making 
with Rea McNamara

Exhibition-making, whether in on- or offline venues, can often reinforce existing hierarchies and power structures. Tapping into the urgency felt to ethically navigate an energized digital environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what role do artists play in mounting online curatorial projects that address pressing societal issues, like social equality and gender justice? Rea McNamara, currently the Emily H. Tremaine Journalism Fellow for Curators at Hyperallergic, has researched and organized curatorial and public programming projects that have been informed by digital feminisms and utopias. Through case studies of past and present online projects, she’ll guide artists through accessible and sustainable frameworks that can inform their own online curatorial projects. Following the presentation, participants will be able to engage in an open conversation sharing resources and ideas with the aim to help facilitate potential collaborations.

Keynote: Post-Traumatic Growth Mindset
with Dr. Esmilda Abreu, Samantha Harvey, and Rhonda Schaller  

The creative industries have become recognized as a critical economic resource, acting as a driver of growth, expanded employment, and fostering culture rich communities. Covid19 has changed this. The cultural sector, its impact, its functioning and employment workflow is currently strained. The strain and stress on the artists’ and the arts organizations’ emotional and cognitive bandwidth has left us stretched and taught. However, during times of crisis we know that we have resources and opportunities, that can move us from stress to growth. This Post-traumatic growth opportunity can create new internal perceptions, applied strengths, uplift and fortitude, creativity and resilience.

In this presentation we will explore how you can lean into post-traumatic growthMindfulness practices help us to turn toward the potential inherent in internal reflection that leads to growth. We will discuss, experiment, and unpack how an immersive mindfulness experience can provide you with the pathways to build internal skills and existing resources that you can put into play. We will share our most recent research, guide you in a variety of mindfulness and visualization exercises, and invite you to join us in our next exploration of mind and art, life and purpose.


Breakout Session: Mindfulness in your Creative Practice Experience
with Rhonda Schaller

Meditation and Creative practice both change our lives in subtle ways, like ripples that alter the surface of the water. We are the ripple, we are the water, we are the earth that holds the potential for the water to flow. Mindful inquiry as a creative practice allows this understanding, through breath and form to explore the unexpected as engaged and purposeful action.  We will discuss these ideas, your experience or desire for experience and introduce a basic becoming/ beholding practice of mindfulness and creative inquiry.

Breakout Session: Saving our Stages: Grassroots Efforts to Change Policy
with Torrie Allen and Hal Real

How a small group of performing arts enthusiasts launched a national movement to save one of our country’s most important assets.

Artists Thrive Survey Tool Alignment

Recordings from sessions on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Keynote: Racial Justice: Making it Personal
with Mitzi Sinnott

In this 50 minute interactive plenary, Carmen Mitzi Sinnott will take us on a journey through time and across continents sharing her family’s story in performance and discussion. She asks us to consider when telling our story is validating and when it’s re-victimizing? She welcomes you to be part of making safe space to hold our experiences with racism learning from the past, reimagining the future, and defusing bias one story at a time.


Winston-Salem Community Mural Project: END RACISM NOW #BLM
with Larry Barron, Arielle Buford, Latisha Coleman, Joshua Mack, and Dara Silver 

Inspired by the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the Black Lives Matter movement, Winston-Salem (NC) community organizers planned an artistic call and response on racism in our community to its local diverse artists. On June 13 in front of City Hall, 18 artists proudly responded, each with their own unique style resulting in a collaborative community mural reading END RACISM NOW #BLM which was highlighted by People.com.  A panel featuring these community organizers and artists will reflect and discuss the historical significance of this event for Winston-Salem and its artists.

The Winston-Salem Community Mural Project was led by community organizers Rasheeda Shankle, Joshua Mack, Chelsea Jones, Casey Jones and Larry Barron, in partnership with The City of Winston-Salem, The Minister’s Conference Winston-Salem Vicinity, The Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County, Triad Cultural Arts, Honorable Youth and Artists Thrive with support from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.

Artists Thrive Survey Alignment 
Americans for the Arts - Arts + Social Impact Explorer

Breakout Session: Artist Projects Responding to Racial Injustice
with Fatou B. Berry, Lonna Hunter, Narsiso Martinez, and Mitzi Sinnott

What does it take to achieve justice? Is it just passion or all process?  Three activists will join in conversation to share how they’re using art to bring in to focus the atrocities that some of our communities are experiencing now. Each of them made the decisions to embark on the journey for different reasons and in different ways. This interactive conversation may even inspire  those who’ve been on the long bending arc to continue these efforts with profound hope of achieving justice in the here and now, and our future.

Breakout Session: Diverse, equitable boards: Aspirational or attainable?
with Michael Bobbitt and Marian Taylor Brown

This session examines how to diversify the arts and culture sector, with a focus on Boards (BOD's) as the locus of change. Participants will look at policies, practices, and implicit biases that impinge on progress towards the goal of cultural equity. Participants will leave the session with new perspectives, ideas, and action points on how to thoughtfully structure, or restructure, Boards to be fortified through diverse, equitable perspectives and practices.

Breakout Session:  Overview of The Artist Bloc and its work with the Greensboro BLM murals
with  Darlene McClinton

We will discuss the overall vision and mission of the artist bloc and our involvement with the community, including the BLM murals.

Breakout Session:  Holy Ground, The Heart of Black Theatre
with Jackie Alexander

Join Jackie Alexander, for a brief history of the National Black Theatre Festival and plans for its future.  https://ncblackrep.org/

Breakout Session:  I Was Here: A Vision to Shift the Spirit of the Country
with Marshall Fields, Marjorie Guyon, and Patrick Mitchell

The art combines the words of poet Nikky Finney, the images of photographer Patrick J. Mitchell, and the vision of collage artist Marjorie Guyon. Through an opening Ceremony that features song and readings, as well as panel discussions and gatherings, the images become an essential part of a community’s conversation about our ongoing need for healing in order to create a strong shared humanity - to create a vision for our future as fellow citizens.

Artists Thrive Survey Alignment

Planting a vision of what the word us means in the heart of America.  Launched Lexington, KY November 2016: a vision to shift the spirit of the Country.  The project sanctifies spaces on the American landscape where enslaved Africans were bought and sold. It is composed of 21 Ancestor Spirit Portraits and launched on the public square of Cheapside, the heart of Lexington, Kentucky -which was one of the largest slave auction sites in the United States. But it crosses the world referencing the Bight of Benin, Tulsa, OK, the Igbo Landing on St. Simon’s Island Georgia, the Broeck Race Course in Savannah, where the largest two-day sale of enslaved persons occurred, as well as other physical locations central to the long lucrative life of the transatlantic Middle Passage slave trade.

Although the internal slave trade in the United States was one of the largest forced dislocations in world history, and the antebellum southern slave market its central commercial agent, the reality of the domestic trade remains abstract for most Americans today. Remains of this vital history are largely hidden in plain sight on the American commemorative landscape. I was here is an entry point for citizens to engage with the past through art. The project synthesizes a wealth of humanities and historical scholarship creating a visual history that brings the past into view. The images, reproduced on translucent tapestries, allow light to pass through. They are clearly visible on both sides creating a visual metaphor for the complexities that embody this wound. By linking the installations to geography and history, we are working together to grapple with the ongoing legacies of human bondage in the United States.

The wound that enslavement created in the heart of our nation cannot be fully known unless it has a human face. The I Was Here Ancestor Spirit Portraits provide this human face. Interpretive text tied to the history of place help provide context and information, but the images themselves are what shift this history—and all its ramifications down to the present day—toward something thoroughly human-centric. We believe that the spirit of the past can be redeemed and our future, as a shared humanity, more richly nurtured.

Dismantling Power: A Journey, Not a Destination
with J. Cottle

More than ever, organizations and institutions are doing the deep and important work of unearthing their own practices and creating better models. But the truth is, this work is exhausting and it's very rarely pretty. How do we do this work sustainably? How do we make sure our allies don't get tired of the work once it's lost its luster? Join Dunamis as we discuss ways to reframe the discussion, give tips for sustainability and use the Artists Thrive tool to do the work that never ends. 

Artists Thrive Survey Alignment


Recordings from sessions on Thursday, October 1, 2020

Keynote: Creative Trespassing: How to Flourish in Uncertain Times
with Tania Katan and Hrag Vartanian

The ability to conjure imagination in any place, at any time, knowing it will make you (and those around you) more innovative, more energized, and more valuable in your work is needed more now than ever as we navigate uncertain and unusual times. In this session, creative disruptor Tania Katan will show you how to transform monotony into novelty and become more energized in your work – yes, even working remotely. Sharing her personal experiences and offering a blend of inspiration and practical advice, Katan will offer a guide to help you move beyond fear and use creativity as fuel for a freer and more joyful life.  After Tania inspirational talk, Hrag Vartanian, co-founder of Hyperallergic, will moderate an interactive conversation between you and Tania.

Recording not available


Breakout Session: Creative Solutions to Civic Challenges: Municipal/Artist Partnerships
with Prerana Reddy and Taja Lindley

Increasingly, city governments are looking to artists in working on society’s most pressing issues and the systems that perpetuate them. Taking the form of partnerships with artists embedded within city agencies, intended outcomes can be ambitious, whether it’s transforming public space, healing trauma, optimizing residents’ access and experience with city services, or the wellbeing of those providing them.  Prerana Reddy, Director of Programs at A Blade of Grass, a national non-profit for socially engaged artists will introduce Municipal-Artist Partnerships, a new free online platform produced with Animating Democracy/Americans for the Arts that aims to be a “relationship guide” to forging strong and sustainable creative partnerships between local governments and artists. She will also moderate a conversation with artist Taja Lindley who is working with NYC's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to confront the racism and systemic oppression experienced by Black and POC communities in navigating their sexual and reproductive health. This will serve as a springboard for participants to share ideas and experiences of how artists might be supported to work with their own municipalities.

Breakout Session: The New Creative Workforce
with Morgan Carlisle and Jessyca Holland

In response to arts jobs lost due to COVID-19, C4 Atlanta is creating a new Workforce Development Program. This program is designed to match local artists with local, black-owned, small businesses. Artists will earn a profit, and small businesses will receive a partner to help them re-engage the customers they lost during the Pandemic. Learn about how C4 Atlanta plans to implement this new program. 


Breakout Session: Going Virtual: Moving Your Programming Online
with Beth Flowers

Explore new technology and techniques that can help rethink your programming for a virtual audience. In depth exploration of Artists Thrive Zoom Guide and case studies for moving workshops, events, and performances online.

Zoom Host Guide 
Zoom Participant Guide

Breakout Session: Wake Up! Fight Zoom Fatigue with Interactive Activities
with Beth Flowers

Learn tips for engaging participants and help curate a survey of what’s working and what’s not.

Zoom Host Guide 
Zoom Participant Guide

Breakout Session: Taking Rubrics Home
with David Grant

This session is for those who want to use rubrics after the Summit, so it will be based on the aspirations of those who participate and their experiences to date.  We will discuss how to create buy-in to the process of rubric-writing and how, over time, to build cultures and coalitions that focus on constant improvement.


Closing Session
with J. Cottle, Beth Flowers, Lynda Lotich, Cheryl Harry, and Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer

After 3 stimulating days together, the Summit Committee will help close out this virtual Summit and lead us into next year's in-person Summit in Winston-Salem, NC (where the Summit will take place in July 2021, 2022, and 2023!)

Thank you to our Sponsors and Partners!


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