Nobody stays at a job forever. If we’re interested in developing healthier work cultures, that has to encompass what it means to leave a workplace. We have to build work cultures that allow us to do better than politely pretending that we’ll all work somewhere until we retire and then out of the blue give our two weeks notice. We have to become more open about job hunting and interviewing.
Change is hard, including institutional change. And it’s especially in the arts and nonprofit worlds. There is risk aversion, inertia, and the fact that racism and capitalist brutality are features and not bugs.
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Before I really entered the workforce, I assumed that the people I worked with would all be my best, most lifelong friends. Without realizing it, I had assumed that my coworkers would begin to form my core social group as I got older. That hasn’t actually happened to me, but I know why I thought it would.
At Fractured Atlas, we’ve extolled the virtues of working remotely since before it was a requirement. We’ve talked about how it has helped us as an arts organization expand beyond New York City as a locus for staff, how it’s provided more flexibility for our staff, and allowed us to work together without some of the pressures of an office.
2020 laid bare the ways that our current systems have been failing artists for a long time. It has also shown us new forms of collective organizing and power-building in the arts and among creative communities. We saw the limitations of individualistic, atomized approaches to succeeding or surviving in the arts, as well as the fragility of formal institutions like museums, galleries, and nonprofits. We have been inspired by artists coming together collectively, pooling resources and sharing information to help support the broader creative community. If we are building a better, more equitable arts sector in the coming year(s), we need to nourish that community.
Soon enough, we’ll have to stop saying “these past few months” or “since March” when we want to refer to ways that the COVID pandemic has upended our lives because it’s about to be March again and we will soon be one full year into this.
Since 2014, Wikitongues has worked to preserve languages at risk of extinction and to revitalize languages that are falling out of use and out of prominence all over the world. The team behind Wikitongues affirms linguistic sovereignty as our global cultural right.
It’s not that we don’t know what the problems are with institutions like nonprofits, companies, museums, and more. The longer we are involved with them, it’s not hard to see which ones are too white and which have too much power concentrated at the top. It’s easy to see which institutions function based on burnout and underpaying entry-level employees, employ toxic communication strategies and leave staff with no room for growth.
As this year comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the writing we’ve shared and the conversations we’ve had on the blog. We’ve shared resources that we’ve read and our own journey towards becoming a more anti-racist organization through strategies like caucusing over the years. This year, BLM protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder sparked a new urgency to these conversations and wider interest in having them (especially in the arts).
The Fractured Atlas team thinks and writes a lot about working; how we work, how we see others structuring their workplaces, how we think the nature of work can and should change in changing times. Often, this comes through Work. Shouldn’t. Suck. Two of the pieces of workplace culture that we have focused on a lot over the years are remote working and anti-racism in the workplace.