Our Team

We’re a group of practicing artists, advocates, and community members who are passionate about helping to create a world where artists can thrive.

Artists Thrive started in 2016 when a group of arts professionals and artists produced the first draft of this field-wide assessment rubric. Through multiple rounds of feedback, Artists Thrive was publicly launched in 2017. Artists Thrive is driven by a leadership team of artists and diverse collaborators from different sectors and communities across the country and is supported by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.

Photo: Headshot of Beth Flowers.

Beth Flowers

Director, AIR Institute at Berea College

As the creator and Director of the AIR Institute of Berea College, Beth is at the forefront of connecting artists and creatives to their communities in new ways that truly raise the value of art and creativity. Beth has created messaging for victorious political candidates and issues, inspired citizen participation in government, managed public planning efforts, repositioned struggling arts organizations, and developed innovative cultural and collaborative programming that shift and evolve value systems and lives.

I see Artists Thrive as a movement to raise the value of art and creativity in every community for every person. Creative making is our most valuable human point of connection and expression - the Artists Thrive network and tool can help us do it better together!

Photo: Headshot of James Grace.

James Grace

Executive Director, Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston

A lawyer and published writer, Jim has overseen a platform of business and legal services and programs to artists and arts organizations for almost 20 years.

I see Artists Thrive as an appreciation for not just the work that artists and arts organizations create but for the people that create it and a shared goal of creating equitable and sustainable practices.

Photo: Headshot of David Grant.

David Grant

Principal, Grant Associates

As a former teacher and foundation president, David helps nonprofit organizations take a positive, proactive, holistic, qualitative approach to assessment – one that shapes and improves all aspects of their work. His book, The Social Profit Handbook (2015), is becoming widely used in the social sector.

I see Artists Thrive as an organization of the issues that matter most to artists and those who work with artists, and an invitation to join together in ever-expanding circles in a quest for clarity, effectiveness, and success in relation to those issues.

Photo: Headshot of Jessyca Holland.

Jessyca Holland

Executive Director, C4 Atlanta

Out of past lives in theatre and research, Jessyca combines her love of the craft with her love of learning. Her work is dedicated to building tools that focus on strengthening artistic careers, awareness for the issues facing arts workers, and space for creatives to share knowledge.

I see Artists Thrive as a starting point for a larger dialogue about arts workers as a valuable asset in every community and what is needed in order to retain them.

Photo: Headshot of Michelle Knapik.

Michelle Knapik

President, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation

From her professional vantage point in philanthropy, Michelle strives for intersectoral collaboration and empowered participation by combining leadership in the Foundation’s interest areas in the arts, sustainable development, and education (learning and attention issues) with systems thinking and inclusionary social change theory and practice.

I see Artists Thrive as an open source, self-organizing expression of how the big “we” sees artists that will shape practice, policy and lived experience ongoingly – it is a catalyst to “change the narrative”.

Photo: Headshot of Heather Pontonio.

Heather Pontonio

Art Program Director, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation

Having worked in multiple art disciplines early in her career, Heather’s expertise in philanthropy focuses on creative field building, problem solving, and project development and management. Heather serves as Artists Thrive’s administrator and chief connector.

I see Artists Thrive as the start of a conversation that acknowledges the importance of artists in our work and drives us towards continual improvement.

Photo: Headshot of Andrew Simonet.

Andrew Simonet

Founder, Artists U

Andrew is a choreographer and writer and the founder of Artists U, an incubator for changing the working conditions of artists. He is the author of Making Your Life as an Artist and other open-source tools for helping artists build sustainable lives.

I see Artists Thrive as a movement that has been growing for decades and that aims to increase the sustainability—and therefore the impact—of individual artists.

Photo: Headshot of Laura Zabel.

Laura Zabel

Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts

Based in Minnesota, Springboard is an economic and community development agency run by and for artists, Springboard provides programs that help artists make a living and a life, and programs that help communities connect to the creative power of artists. Springboard operates Creative Exchange, a national platform for sharing free toolkits, resources, and profiles to help artists and citizens collaborate on replicating successful and engaging community projects.

I see Artists Thrive as a tool for movement building.