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.

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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

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.

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I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists

Working to Pay a Fair Wage

Regardless of the programming we do, we always want to compensate. Whether or not that compensation will meet the artist’s fiscal needs or not is another question – we are nonprofit and our capacity to compensate is based on funding and grants that we’re able to secure. Still, we really do try our best to be within what the fair market value would be for their work. We try to compensate them to the best of our ability that would equate what they would get from someone else. It’s a really important thing for our organization to invest monetarily in creatives, as well as through education and professional development.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists

Financial Support for Artists Is an Essential Component of Our Work

Our stance here is clear: we believe support for artists comes in many ways, but financial support is an essential component of the work that we do. And, in that vein, we feel that the compensation for artists is important in all of our programs. For example, in the past year we have been fortunate to host a major political event, and as a public agency we considered that opportunity and asked, “What can we do to provide a meaningful support for the organizations and the artists that we fund, and create an opportunity for them to connect with the community and really help showcase our community as a destination for arts and culture?” So, we developed a program wherein artists and arts organizations could apply to perform at the airport or to activate public spaces downtown during the convention, and through that process we ensure that artists would have meaningful stipends and compensation that was there, whether that was a group of performers or an individual artist. And we look forward to replicating that this year in the heart of downtown through a partnership with the public park in the center of downtown that’s been newly renovated. We feel strongly that artists should be fairly compensated for their time and for their work and we look for that to integrate that kind of perception through all the work that we do.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists

Doing Everything in My Power to Make Sure Artists Are Paid

Michael Dickins describes how he strives to be an advocate for artists getting paid for what they do for both himself as an artist and also in his position as a curator and gallery director at a university. He also shares how he is working to build a network of other curators in academic settings to dialogue about the wide variance in pay across the nation and how they can advocate for national standards and practices.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I work with Artists Artists Survive Paying Artists