We believe that artists need to be able to connect with one another to share information and resources, to collaborate with one another, and to inspire each other. It’s great to be able to connect with your local community, but physical proximity isn’t a possibility for some artists depending on geographical location, physical ability, or discipline. You might be the only harpist in your town, or unable to physically attend meetings or classes in your area.
During the height of the pandemic, we saw exhortations to support frontline workers, to tip extravagantly, to be kind to the person providing phone support, and to remember that the person working behind the counter or on the delivery truck is potentially risking their life to get you what you are looking for. There was at least some understanding that the customer-facing workers are the people who actually keep the wheels running of our society.
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The return of office life is on the horizon. For many, it’s already here. But it won’t be the way that it was in February 2020. As we reopen, many workplaces will be using a hybrid model between in-person office working and remote working. They will be doing this to reopen offices gradually and because the past year and a half have shown many of us that we can work from anywhere and that not commuting to an office has a number of benefits (not least of all getting our commuting time back).
At times, creative practices - the work of research, ideating, building, and crafting artwork - can feel at odds with the flow of capitalism that dictates that you always do more, go faster, and think about yourself in isolation. In this world of speed, money, and individualism at the forefront, what does it mean to slow down and think intentionally about where artists and the economic ecosystem generated by the arts industry fit in within the greater world? “Solidarity Not Charity - Arts & Culture Grantmaking in the Solidarity Economy: A Rapid Report” written by Nati Linares and Caroline Woolard presents one answer to this inquiry. This report covers how artists and culture bearers fit into the larger solidarity economy that is growing; organizations, individuals, and collectives who are transforming how we think about funding and wealth building; and numerous actions we can take to educate ourselves and enact change.
Universal basic income, or UBI, can be a bit shocking when you first hear about it. It’s the proposition that residents of a place receive recurring payments without any kind of means testing. This means that they don’t have to “deserve” UBI payments by dint of their current employment status or salary, their number of dependents, housing situation, sobriety, or participation in municipal programs. It is no-strings-attached money that recipients can use however they like.
A few months ago, we announced the launch of our online community for artists, the Creative Outpost. It’s a space for artists to connect with one another, crowdsource solutions to challenges you might run into, and to share inspiration and ideas. We are building the Creative Outpost because we believe that community is essential for artists and for a thriving and just arts sector.
As the world reopens after over a year of shutdown, it’s hard to know how to keep people safe while bringing back entertainment and the arts. How do we protect artists, performers, crews, and staff at events? What about audiences? How do we balance safety and our need for connection?
It is impossible to ignore the magnitude of need for financial support locally, regionally, and globally. People are finding it harder and harder to access the resources they need to create art, to live a dignified life, and to even secure basics like food and housing. Because of this, there are lots of different individuals, groups, and organizations who are working to get money to people who need it.
As you apply to jobs and interview for them, there are plenty of red flags that can let you know that a workplace isn’t healthy. I can start with just the ones I have personally experienced.
In the face of economic uncertainty, the ravages of the gig economy, layoffs and closures related to the pandemic, and to overall austerity related to the arts and culture sector, artists need better economies. We need ways to build sustainable creative practices, to really own the value of our labor, and to build collective power. We need better ways to make a living as an artist beyond the uncertainty of freelancing and the constant need to fundraise and write grants.