Budgets, Negotiations, and Contracts – Hatch Artists’ Blogs Part 2

Part of the ongoing Hatch blog series, today’s blogs are reflections by our Hatch artists on their experience from the previous weeks’ class by Jim Grace, Executive Director of the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston. Staff recaps of the session is available on our blog.

For this class, we ask the artists to reflect on the following thoughts:

  • How has your previous experience in negotiation been similar to cultivating dating or cultivating romantic relationships? What personal style of negotiation do you lean towards based on your personality and past experience?
  • What are some of the barriers, perceived or real, that relate to your work in public art? Consider things like permitting, zoning, etc. What are some possible solutions?

We hope you enjoy their thoughtful responses!

Negotiation is similar to how I have experienced relationships, in that you often assume you know what the other person wants or needs and tend to have one way of dealing with conflict. Finding out what the other party really NEEDS and wants becomes more important than assessing what you think their interests are. Also figuring out what you actually need and what your interests are is important. Without breaking it down for yourself you may have assumed you knew what you needed too. If you are a person who finds solace/drive in styles like Winning, Compromise, Competing in your personal relationships, it may be worth investigating and challenging what it would look like to experience other styles in your negotiations. We discussed for example the benefits of a Collaborative style of negotiation included longer term solutions and more uncovered needs, but carried the tradeoff of requiring more time and commitment from both sides. Sounds like life, right?

Part of an exhibition by Hez Stalcup.
Part of an exhibition by Hez Stalcup.

Some important thoughts in assessing things legally were: What are your Values? What is the culture you are trying to create? If you want unity and mutuality then there is a way to incorporate that in how you are protecting your own rights and the rights of collaborators. In general it’s better to work it out early in the process and spell out details up front, which is not a dis-service at all — in fact the opposite, explicit expectations set a tone of respect, clarity and reciprocity.

Who owns this? became a very useful question, and clarified when something is under your copyright or not. Finding the right simple questions to ask as you go into a project with another artist, the City or Galleries for example, can provide a framework for what a legal document can look like.

My own hesitancy about what could legally be covered in an unconventional public event were alleviated when Jim referenced the reality that there are huge outdoor events (New Years Eve was his example) that constitute a million drunk people being covered by liability insurance. I realized that working with a broker is more about knowing what is important to you and less so about memorizing the exact kind of insurance or contracts you might need. Anything can be put into a contract, to come full circle — it’s knowing what your interests, and the interests of who will be affected by your work (hosts, participants, artists, audience, public) actually are. Which as it turns out, is not so different from the process that goes into making a well thought out art piece.

by Hez Stalcup

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