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. Read our Guidebook for more suggestions on how you can use Artists Thrive, putting the tools to practice, and sparking conversations with Artists Thrive.

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

Partners Surprised at the Value Artists Bring

Each year we stage a big arts fair in our town. And, I’ve got no less than three artists that sit on our planning and implementation committee. These are artists who are regular participants in this fair, as well as a number of other fairs in the region. So, they welcomed the opportunity to be involved at this level, and they’ve been successful and significant contributors to the process in being able to inform us of the artist perspective. At something like an arts fair, it is highly important for the planners to be able to consider this side. This has been an excellent experience in terms of working with the artists on the committee. They’ve been very helpful. To be honest, though, our partners seemed quite surprised at the value artists are bringing to the table. They’ve asked, “Is this a typical experience in working with artists?” I’m glad to share that it is. And to encourage our partners to appreciate the willingness of these artists to lend their expertise and knowledge to help us make the fair bigger and better.

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

Struggling to Pay Competitively within Budget

We always try to have artists get paid whenever we are doing new work, commissioning new work, or involving them in some way in which they’re actually contributing first-hand to the project. Just recently we had a tenth-year anniversary exhibition and we worked with twelve artists to do some site-specific commissions and also show artwork that they shipped from their studios. In that case, most of the people who were participating in the exhibition were creating works on-site in the gallery, or for off-site locations. We tried to pay them a stipend based on a rate that they felt was competitive or applicable for the amount of work that they were doing, but also we had a max budget. In most cases, we found artists to be really flexible in terms of how much they’ll work for and what they won’t work for. At the time, we appreciated this flexibility because it helped us meet our budget. In hindsight, though, we realized that we need to have an open conversation with artists to acknowledge that we’re not paying competitively right now and create solutions together. We want to be a leader in paying artists fairly as opposed to another organization asking artists to take less than they are worth.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Struggle Paying Artists

Knowing What a Life as an Artist Can Look Like

Artist Diane Scott shares her first-hand experience with the importance of showing artists real examples of what making a life as an artist can actually look like to inspire them to imagine their own futures.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Planning and Capacity

What It Means to Struggle as an Artist

Artist Andee Rudloff reflects on the many ways that artists thrive and struggle, considering different ways of defining success ranging from monetary to creative fulfillment.

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

Struggling to Help Artists Survive and Thrive in Place

Robert Gipe, Appalachian Program Director for the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College, shares experiences with community based arts projects as well as the challenge of creating opportunities for young people who want to stay and thrive as artists in their hometown.

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

Taking Control of Your Career

Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova shares his experience struggling with 'selling' his work and establishing a live/work balance.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Practice

Finding a Day Job that Is Supportive of Being an Artist

Artist Tamara Wilson describes how her relationship with money has evolved over time and different strategies she has tried for creating sustainability.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Money

Making Your Voice Heard

Artist Pat Shelton describes a time when her voice wasn’t being heard and how she overcame this challenge through increased communication and transparency.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Power

Knowing When to Move On

Artist Amy Meisner relays a story about an experience that taught her when to walk away and cut her losses when a situation isn’t working out.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Money

Times of Struggle Lead to New Opportunities

Artist Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova shares about times in his career when he struggled to balance artistic fulfillment and financial return, and also to balance community and family.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Communicating and Connecting

Finding the Compatibility in Being an Artist and a Mom

Artist Michelle Weinberg shares about her initial struggle to balance having an infant and being an artist and how the two ultimately fit together well.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Practice

Rural Artist Using Social Media to Reach a Broader Community

Tessa Dallarosa from Laramie, Wyoming describes how, as an artist working in a rural setting, social media is one of her biggest resources for connecting with a broader community, and yet, how she struggles with the inherent challenges of social media as well.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Communicating and Connecting

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

Rubric Spectrum Category
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.

Rubric Spectrum Category
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.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Give Up Engaging with Artists

A City Plan Created without Artists

Casey Summar, Independent Consultant and former Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville, shares a cautionary tale about the lack of artists at the table for creating the previous strategic plan for the city of Nashville in the 1990s.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Give Up Advocacy

Exposure as Compensation

If we have a local artist who’s contributing to the exhibition in some way, we typically don’t pay them an artist’s fee or honorarium unless they’re doing something substantial for the exhibition.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Give Up Paying Artists

We Assumed the Artists Were Just Being Needy

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. To us, they felt needy. We believed they wanted somebody else to put a tour together that they could just pop into. After reflecting on the experience, we hope to start a dialogue to learn more about how we can successfully partner with our local artists, rather than basing our actions off assumptions.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Give Up Engaging with Artists

Lacking an Authentic Voice

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.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Give Up Services and Programs

Trying to Find Common Ground

As a Community Development Corporation, we know in theory that working with artists could lead to interesting programming, but we have no idea where to start and how to connect with artists. Some of our staff try to go to places and events where we might find things in common with artists, such as gardening and community events, as well as showing up at openings and such. But there still seems to be a gap between our general interest in partnering and the ability of our staff or the artists we meet to make a connection and advance the conversation.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Give Up Community Connections