Fireside Chats: Artists Thrive!

C4 Atlanta’s work has always been focused on the needs of the arts worker to carve out a career in Atlanta. Beyond skill and talent, there is a lot necessary to sustain a career as an artist, arts technician or administrator. Our scope of service has been based on providing a platform accessible to any artist of skills, resources, and tools for professional development regardless of educational level, previous experience, discipline or demographics.

This is a constant conversation in our office: what do artists need, and how are they receiving it (or not receiving it) in Atlanta? Recently, we’ve been focused on the way that our organization is able to connect artists to causes, issues and resources. Our advocacy efforts over the last year focused on the Presidential and Local elections have centered on providing more connectivity and access between our community to policy makers and the community systems that influence how, where, and why we are able to work. As we’ve worked over the last year on this specific initiative, we’ve seen how this work has been beneficial to artists in other, unexpected ways. We’ve seen culture workers who would not know each other otherwise as collaborators and activists for causes and visions of change.

We’d like to continue and incubate these connections to grow and flourish, without agenda or expectation that we are “here to get it done” – in an hour and a half. While we always wish to move the needle toward goals and ideals that can help the creatives in this city have stronger careers, sometimes, idea sharing, a chance at greater understanding and place to congregate is the most important tool we could provide. In this way, our goal is to provide the tools and get out of the way to allow artists to organically utilize them in a way that is most beneficial to their own goals.

With this in mind, we present our newest initiative: Fireside Chats. Fireside Chats are essentially a series of conversations, lead by the issues identified by artists as most important and in need of discussion. Our goal here is not to promise problem solving – though if consensus was reached or an action agreed upon, great. Rather, we are focusing on curating a space where artists can talk about things that they care about or that affect them, learn and share with other artists and have a space to meet one another. We plan to hold these conversations monthly in our space. And while we don’t promise to solve all of our issues in an hour and a half, we do promise to provide snacks!

C4 Atlanta held the first of these conversations on Tuesday, October 24, 2017. Our future goal is to theme the discussions based on topics chosen by attendees at previous Fireside Chats. But for this first conversation, we decided to focus on a national initiative for organizations that work with artists to measure whether their operations help artists to flourish or quit: Artists Thrive.

Artists Thrive includes a website with a rubric measurement tool of both artists and organizations that work with artists. Visit artiststhrive.org to learn more.

Artists Thrive is a national initiative, organized by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, researched and crafted by a leadership team from across the United States. C4 Atlanta’s own Executive Director was part of the leadership team and recently helped with an unveiling of these tools and resources at a summit in Berea, Kentucky this fall.

At the Fireside Chat, Jessyca Holland shared the goals of the leadership team and invited participating artists and arts workers to share their thoughts about what needs they had and their impression of the Artists Thrive tools.

Before we showed local artists the tool, we asked, “what do you need in Atlanta to thrive”? Here is what they said:

  • Time – artists need collaborating entities to understand how much time in really takes for the production of art. This is not a time-management issue. It is a communication issue between artist and contractor/patron/employer. Artists need time for the full cycle of creation and production.
  • Money – we got into a discussion about value and price but the conversation seemed to center around the need for money to support (once again) the full cycle of creation and production–not just output. For example: grants that fund process as well as product (yes, we know that word but language is hard).
  • Fair wage for fair time.
  • Vocabulary to be able to express fair value.
  • Transparency.
  • Relationship building opportunities.
  • Peer networks.
  • Shared vision with those who work with artists. An understanding of expectations.
  • Capacity resources.
  • Greater tolerance for risk – allow artists to create interesting work that pushes thought and/or boundaries. An environment that fosters innovation and new works.
  • More supporters.
Artists thrive
Artists discuss fair wage, time, and other resources they need to thrive.

We also asked artists about topics they would like to discuss at future fireside chats. Here’s what they said:

  • Artists & Developers – space
  • Artists as tools of gentrification
  • Artists at the table
  • Artists as freelancers
  • Entertainment vs. design vs. fine art vs. folk art
  • Tangible value vs. intangible value
  • Art as a public good. Is art for everyone?

What else? Email us at actionteam@c4atlanta.org with your ideas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *