C4 Atlanta is proud to announce that “Book of Colors” will be the musical entertainment for our ArtoberFest 2016 celebration.
Who is this wonderful band? We’re glad you asked…
Book of Colors is a band that constantly skirts the edge between torn-open soulfulness and delicate restraint. Their melodies are dreamy and hypnotic, and lead singer André Paraguassu’s distinctively warm, crooning voice carries them with an easygoing authority.
The lineup of musicians involved is somewhat loose, the band name functioning more as a moniker for Paraguassu’s musical endeavors than as a static group. Live shows typically feature six to eight band members with lush instrumentation and layered vocal harmonies.
“There is an amazing music scene happening in Atlanta right now. It’s a major city overflowing with world-class talent, but the amount of camaraderie within the artistic community makes it feel like a small town,” André says as he reclines lazily on the classically southern front porch of their drummer’s home in Little Five Points where they rehearse. “I’ve always loved playing with large ensembles and this city has been the gift that keeps on giving in that regard. Everyone is so supportive and eager to collaborate. I feel incredibly lucky to be working in such an inspiring creative atmosphere.”
André’s list of songwriting influences is long and eclectic, but the majority of artists and albums he mentions are from the sixties and early seventies, with a heavy slant toward music made in the UK, Brazil, France, and the southern United States during that time period. As such, traces of Nick Drake, Harry Nilsson, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke can all be heard in his vocal delivery, with dark raspy low notes and a soaring, bell-like upper register. Psychedelic elements that bring Broadcast, Pink Floyd, and Caetano Veloso to mind mix with introspective lyrics and symphonic orchestration in Paraguassu’s often complex song structures.
Book of Colors has played alongside national and international acts that include Kishi Bashi, Bright Black Morning Light, Little Tybee, Horse Feathers, Della Mae, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, and Streets of Laredo. They’ve also performed in numerous festivals and events in and around Atlanta and the Southeastern United States.
“Book of Colors sounds like that elf you meet way out in the woods strumming a harp made of dreams and rainbows. And his band is a tough gang of unicorns high on Gummi juice.” -Artlantis
Don’t miss your chance to see “Book of Colors”. Tickets are on sale now for ArtoberFest 2016. Buy today!
C4 Atlanta welcomes 8 new projects to our ArtsForce programming. Through this fiscal sponsorship program artists and creative organizations have raised over $220,000 in the last 2 and 1/2 years. We are excited to introduce the following new projects to C4 Atlanta’s ArtsForce program:
Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead is a play that deals with issues that affect our community, specifically, coming out LGBTQ at a young age. In Atlanta, 1 out of 4 homeless are LGBTQ. This project will be working with Lost-n-Found Youth, an organization whose mission is to get homeless LGBTQ off the streets of Atlanta. The goal of this show is to not only to entertain an audience but to educate them as well.
The Effect That Absence of Love & Intimacy Has on Relationships
The Effect That Absence of Love & Intimacy has on Relationships is a stylistic documentary that focuses on human behavior. The film presents both non-fiction and fictional accounts of individuals and couples who have been damaged by relationships. Viewers are able to get a peak into their pasts to see why the participants turned out that way.
The Humble Telescopes
THT initiative will curate 6 art-centric workshops to organizations serving Atlanta’s at-risk youth. The sessions aim to explore positive and creative avenues despite initial systemic realities. During the 2 hour sessions, artists build relationships with the youth through technical workshops and group discussions to share personal narratives. The initiative supports artists by offering compensation and an opportunity to share their process with those who are not often exposed to their work. The at-risk youth population work collaboratively, gain technical skills, and develop a more empowered sense of self. They then begin to make more positive connections with the larger community.
The project will use a fusion of traditional West African, Afro Cuban, and African American song, music and dance, creating a new sound that will teach and erase myths regarding the tradition. The project will host various music workshops, song/dance classes on its travel throughout the country. This project will educate the public on the many phases of African traditional spiritual expression as it has traveled throughout the world through (using) music, dance, and interactive workshops. This will assist with eliminating ignorance around culture, and encourage the desire to learn more others as well as themselves.
Lenspeace: A Year in Giving
This project aims to combine both by curating a collective of creatives all motivated for the subject of social change, provide them with the theme to create art around, and then allow organizations who couldn’t otherwise afford such impactful design to utilize the artwork for their own communications efforts. The project serves to connect the public to social causes through impactful design and to provide organizations and causes with the materials they need to effectively communicate their voice visually. This project both beautifies and amplifies the modern civil rights movement, while helping to educate the public on the need for social justice.
My Time 2B Blessed
“My Time 2B Blessed” is a stage musical, written from a true story about family; capitalizing on one mother’s faith , which made her resilient in rearing 10 children, she instilled in each of us the power of love, being musically inclined we made music 24/7 singing, beating pots,pans, tables and the walls. This musical exemplifies family. The public benefits in this musical is family, love, the power of prayer, it teaches never to give up on the gifts and talents we’ve been given, it advocates that suicide is never the answer, and being different is an originality showing that each individual is unique.
In its second year, the Therapeutic Artists Residency (TAR project) will offer four Atlanta based teen (15-19) artists monthly individual sessions and group experiential activities followed by group sessions. These artist will develop skills to use expression as a form of self-care, explore therapeutic themes in their work and have direct support. This second round of the TAR will further the public statement of the need and importance to support artists with therapeutic relationships and combat stigma. TAR offers the artists the emotional support and art-making-process development; and the project is a study itself on the possibilities of supporting the public art scene in new radical ways.
Y’allywood Film Festival
In the past few years, Georgia has seen an explosion of film production by major studios due to tax incentives, ideal locations and weather, and easy accessibility via the world’s busiest airport. While hiring local talent for these productions is great for our local film economy, it is important that southern cinema maintain an independent voice and that the film-making community of the south is not reduced to an outsourcing market for big studios. This year’s summit will bring southeastern filmmakers, scholars, critics, students, and enthusiasts together in order to conceptualize the cinema of the New South.
The deadline for the Fall 2016 Hatch Training Intensive is closing in! We are so excited to meet our next cohort. In anticipation of the next training session, we thought you might like to meet some of the wonderful folks that have helped us to develop this program along the way:
CenterForward, lead by Heather Alhadeff, President: Places that people cherish and thrive in are ultimately achieved via rigorous and thoughtful dialogue across disciplines. Transportation Planning and Engineering combined with sincere and effective community involvement represent a collaborative and ultimately implementable decision making process – a core principle of Center Forward. With that philosophy in mind, Center Forward Inc was established in December 2012 as a transportation and land use planning firm.
Heather has over 19 years of Atlanta-specific Planning experience. Center Forward is a big proponent in helping the city integrate artistic principles into all stages of planning. Center Forward helped C4 Atlanta develop content that introduces artists to planning, trends in planning, and how the artist may fit into planning projects that engage community members and community stakeholders.
Ebony Noelle Golden: Ebony Noelle Golden is the CEO and principal engagement strategist at Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC. BDAC is a NYC-based cultural arts direct action group that works to inspire, instigate, and incite transformation, radical expressiveness, and progressive social change through community designed, culturally relevant, creative projects. The Houston, TX native is also an accomplished performance artist, poet, director, and choreographer who stages site-specific rituals and live art performances that profoundly explore the complexities of freedom in the time of now. Ebony holds a Master of Arts degree in Performance Studies from New York University, a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from American University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from Texas A&M University.
Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, lead by Jim Grace, Executive Director: The mission of the A&BC is to strengthen a vibrant arts community by providing quality direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the creative community. Programs include business training for artists and creative entrepreneurs, pro bono legal services, nonprofit board service training and placement, microlending, fiscal agency, estate and legacy planning, human resources support, insurance programs, and corporate art lending partnerships.
Emily Hopkins: Emily Hopkins is an artist and the executive director of Side Street Projects. Emily works to develop sustainable, community-based systems that connect working artists directly to communities.
She is committed to hands-on, standards-based art programs for K-12 that appeal to multiple intelligences and incorporate into core curriculum. Emily serves on the art curriculum advisory committee for the Pasadena Unified School District (DAT CAT), and the advisory board for John Muir High School’s Arts Entertainment & Media Academy. Emily has a BFA & MA from CalArts and lives and works in Pasadena.
Katina Parker: Katina Parker is a Durham-based filmmaker, photographer, writer, graphic designer, cultural curator, social media expert, and communications consultant who has advised both the Ford Foundation’s Just Films and the Association of Independents in Radio’s Makers Quest 2.0 initiatives. Parker teaches social media and film through the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and serves as an Instructor for North Carolina’s Community Folklife Documentation Institute.
She is the Co-Chair of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Task Force and the Vice President of the Association of Wake Forest University’s Black Alumni (AWFUBA) group. Prior to this Parker worked as a creative director in Los Angeles. She spent several years working as a Media Strategist for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), where she fine-tuned her public relations and communications savvy.
McKenzie Wren: Mckenzie has a background in public health, alternative medicine and variety entertainment. Since 2007, she has worked within the refugee community of Clarkston, GA – a community called “the most diverse square mile in the nation” by a NY Times article. She was previously the Executive Director of the Clarkston Community Center for six years. McKenzie uses arts-based and place-based strategies to bring about change. Her particular areas of focus are helping businesses and nonprofits strengthen culture through participatory processes and identify new processes for information and resource flow. She is a skilled facilitator who believes in the power of community to identify and solve its own problems.
The Hatch Training Intensive is specifically targeted towards readying artists to work in community-centric art projects in ways that are both sustainable and meaningful to all involved stakeholders. Deadline for application to the 2016 Fall Hatch Training Intensive is August 15th at 11:59pm. To learn more or to apply, see our Hatch Training Page.
C4 Atlanta’s Advocacy Committee has a goal: to connect individuals in the arts with resources to help reach their policy makers and to raise awareness for issues and policies that affect creative career sustainability. We see arts advocacy as central to our mission of helping to connect artists…. Without policies in place that create a friendly environment for arts workers, it is difficult for their careers to flourish. When other cities have a more favorable arts climate, artists begin to look outside Atlanta (and often, outside Georgia) to build thriving careers. You can read more about C4 Atlanta’s Advocacy Platform here: C4 Atlanta Advocacy Platform.
With the help of several amazing volunteers, C4 Atlanta offered several activities to the patrons, passersby, residents and business owners of Little Five Points. Our wonderful (and talented!) volunteer and member, Latanya Hardaway, painted faces in Findley Plaza while parents and those waiting in line learned more about local/state/national policies that affect the arts and artists. Two signs stood on easels, asking those in the plaza both “What do you like about the arts in Georgia?” and “What would you like to see for the arts in Georgia?” All were invited to write or draw their visions for the future. Other volunteers helped to educate and advocate for the arts by engaging in conversations to sign a petition for increased funding at the State level. And staff members Jessyca Holland and Audrey Gámez, Fulton County’s newest Deputy Registrars for Voter Registration, helped those eligible to register to vote.
Here are some photos of all of the fun we had sharing our love and vision for the arts with the folks in Little Five Points:
C4 Atlanta is excited to announce the members of the Selection Committee for the Fall 2016 Hatch Training Intensive. The members of the Selection Committee bring a deep understanding of community based artwork and years of experience. This committee includes a stellar group of arts professionals representing multi-artistic disciplines:
Joe Dreher (“JOEKINGATL”), visual artist best known for his iconic street and mural art. He is also an architect, photographer and poet
Angela Harris, Dance Canvas Executive Director and esteemed choreographer and teacher
Rachel May, Producing Artistic Director and an original founder of Sychronicity Theatre, an award-winning, professional theatre company based in Atlanta
Tracy Murrell, curator of the Hammonds House Museum and a multi-disciplinary visual artist
The staff of C4 Atlanta is excited to work with individuals who hold such diverse professional and artistic credentials. We could not have asked for a better team to help us select artists to participate in Hatch.
The Hatch Training Intensive is our newest program, designed specifically for artists working with community. Over the past few months, we have documented our pilot program, which you can read about here on our Hatch page under “Artist and Facilitator Blogs”. We were excited to launch our first Call for Artists for this program in June. The Fall 2016 program begins on September 24, and we can’t wait to meet our newest cohort of artists.
Hatch will connect artists to vital information about how to approach collaborative projects outside a traditional studio practice. Under the program, participants will learn the legal, financial and “soft” skills necessary to effectively lead community-based art projects. Selected artists will participate in a four-month, rigorous training program with C4 Atlanta staff and experts from around the country, including Atlanta. Artists will have the opportunity to work with community builders, an attorney who specializes in legal assistance for artists working in public art, a city planner, and more. Applications and more details are available online at https://c4atlanta.org/training/hatchDeadline to apply: August 15, 2016 at 11:59pm.
Summer is full of warm weather, vacations, and happenings… lots and lots of happenings! From festivals, to performances, to recognition, C4 Atlanta’s members are working hard to make things happen in the arts. Below is a list of recent and upcoming activities involving a few of C4 Atlanta’s members.
Jessica Miller : AIM Alumni & Member
Jessica recently accepted the role of Executive Director of Burnaway, an online publication for the Arts in the Southeast.
Jessica says: “I look forward to bringing my dedication and enthusiasm for the art community to the position of Executive Director at BURNAWAY. As a Georgia State alumna and Atlanta native, I have relied on BURNAWAY to inform my understanding of the artistic landscape of the Southeast. I am thrilled to be a part of advancing BURNAWAY’s mission and growing the amazing reputation that this organization has already established.”
Roxane Hollosi is working hard in Gainesville this summer putting together a new collage piece called “Echoes VI”. This project is led by Quinlan Visual Arts Center with the goal of promoting “art within the community through the creation of large-scale works of art installed in the public sphere throughout the city of Gainesville and Hall County,”
Lauren Pallotta: Ignite & Hatch Alumni, ArtsForce Member
Recent Hatch Alumni, Lauren Pallotta, shares her current ArtsForce project with the community of Inman Park, Candler Park, Edgewood, and Reynoldstown with an initiative to put murals on the Moreland Avenue underpass using 20+ female artists including Hatch artists Jessica Caldas, Shannon Willow, Charmaine Minniefield, and Angela Davis Johnson.
For this project the community offered their thoughts and ideas on the mural this past weekend in Little 5 Points during Little 5 Arts Alive.
This project is a neighborhood-driven initiative spearheaded by Carly Berg of Little Five Points, and local artist Lauren Pallotta Stumberg of Think Greatly. Together they are working to create vibrant public spaces that connect artists with community and pay artists fair wages for their time and talent to further beautify our city.
When she’s not hard at work behind her desk at C4 Atlanta, Chelsea Steverson is on-stage acting in Atlanta. This summer she will be appearing in Essential Theatre‘s original production of “When Things Are Lost” by Derek Dixon. This is one of two shows happening in Essential’s Summer Festival. Essential Theatre focuses on producing new works by Georgia playwrights.
If you love Atlanta then you love Tiny Doors ATL. You’ve probably seen these famous doors at your favorite places around Atlanta including the BeltLine, Krog Street and Paris on Ponce. ArtsForce Member Karen Anderson is the Principle Artist and co-founder of Tiny Doors ATL, and she’s getting ready to have a tiny party!
Their very first door is turning two! You can celebrate with Tiny Doors ATL Thursday, July 28th at Hodge Podge Coffee.
Kathy Rennel Forbes a local artist and Kennesaw State University professor was selected to have her water color painting, “Woman in Blue”, put on display at the Georgia State Capitol in the Office of the Governor this summer as part of the “Art of Georgia II: Portraits of a Community” exhibition. This is the second time she has been selected for this honor.
Kathy also recently won 1st place in the Paint Quick competition held at the 2016 Olmsted Plein Air Invitational this past May. This event helps to benefit the ongoing work of Olmsted Linear Park Alliance.
Charmaine Miniefield recently completed “Watch Me Learn”, a mural in Atlanta’s King Historic District in collaboration with Dr. Doris Derby. Thanks to this project, Charmaine will not be going to East Harlem, New York to continue her on-going community-based work through the NOT A CRIME campaign.
“Now that theNOT A CRIME campaign features my work and is going to Harlem, to focus on the rights to education, it gives an opportunity to be intentional about a wide range of relevant issues which can spark conversation and awareness in ways that are meaningful. This is the work that of the artist/activist. I am excited.”
Hez Stalcup & Danielle Deadwyler: Hatch Alumni & Members
This powerhouse team is no joke. These two Atlanta based performance artists took a moment this summer to talk about what it’s like to make performance art in Atlanta and their mutual interest in under-represented identities. This is one conversation you won’t want to miss.
Jordan Robinson is hard at work in his final quarter of his MA in Arts Administration from SCAD Atlanta. For his final thesis he will be working with another soon-to-be SCAD photography graduate, Joshua McFadden, for an exhibition entitled “Colorism”. This exhibitions tackles contemporary issues that affect men and women of African-American communities.
In the wake of one of the most traumatic weeks in US history and with #blacklivesmatter on everyone’s lips this exhibition will be one to remember.
When she’s not actively painting in the studio, Stephanie Lloyd is offering her talents to the Atlanta stage. This summer she will be starring in the upcoming production of The Threepenny Opera with 7 Stages in Little 5 Points. This poignant shows looks at the rich vs poor and the powerful vs powerless. This classical musical is sure to rock your summer.
The events of the past week are weighing heavy on my heart, as I’m sure they are for many of us. Personally, I was very struck by both the shootings that have occurred across the country and the resulting protests. I spent nearly a decade of my life living in Baton Rouge and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex – nearly 3 years in Baton Rouge and 7 years in DFW. My uncle was also the Captain of Homicide for the Houston Police Department for many years, and it was not unusual to see his face on the local news as a child whenever a notable shooting or murder had occurred, sometimes as the investigating detective. For me, the face of law enforcement is very much tied to the face of a family member whom I love very much.
I have also had several friends share their terrifying experiences with law enforcement, and have had a few hostile experiences of my own with officers that have shaped my own point of view as an adult. Perhaps the most influential event I’ve experienced through art in the last year was a video shown by Katina Parker of a short documentary film she shot of children who had participated with their parents in the Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Each of the children was young, around 8 or younger. As they tearfully described being tear gassed and brutalized by law enforcement and struggled with understanding the motivation behind their experiences, I couldn’t help being moved to cry myself. And yet I am more than painfully aware that (despite my Latino roots), the way I look pretty much assures that it is likely I never have to experience what these innocent children have already had to endure in their young lives. The fact that young black children have experiences so much more hate than an adult because of how they look is truly disgusting to me.
In light of the tragedies in our world, and the frustrating, confounding and often upsetting times we have lived through recently, there is one thing that gives me some solace and piece of mind: art has the power to transform hearts and communities and overcome the oppressive dominance of white culture. As artists, we possess the power to say without speaking, to feel without touching, to create light and song where there is none. I see art as a power of hope in educating our communities about what we see happening in the world and to combat the injustices that persist in our communities.
Through our Hatch pilot program, I was privileged to work with so many wonderful individuals, both artist-students and facilitators, toiling tirelessly to create change and address social ills in the world in a meaningful way. Their work and compassion for their communities is an inspiration to me as both an administrator and artist that our contributions are meaningful in some way in spite of injustice and inequality in the world. We must continue to work to create the reality we’d like to live in where everyone, regardless of background, race, origin, disability, sexuality, gender or any other identity expression can feel safe and pursue “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” without fear.
To do this work is more than placing a mural up in a neighborhood without regard for the deep wounds that need healing over beautification without connection to its audience. It is more than putting a paintbrush or a microphone in the hands of members of the community, although that’s sometimes a good start. To make clear, sustainable change in the world takes hard work and commitment to showing up. It takes an open heart and thick skin. And most of all, it takes extreme patience. While the immediacy of this situation (people dying in the streets) creates a sense of urgency to fix the problem as quickly as possible, the reality is that for any kind of lasting and meaningful progress to be made to change the status quo, it often takes YEARS of tedious, time consuming, relentless work with community members just to lay the groundwork to begin even the smallest of lasting changes.As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we are literally combatting systems of oppression and colonization that have existed almost as long as humans have lived in close proximity to one another. That shouldn’t discourage us from doing the work, however. Small changes and even those that don’t last still help us to move the needle forward towards a world free of the oppressive dominance of White Culture.
Understanding the ways in which White Culture dominance affects our organizations, institutions and social systems is particularly important for non-POC (People of Color) allies trying to support and aid their POC friends in combating oppression, racism and xenophobia. In her essay “White Supremacy Culture“, Tema Okun details the characteristics of white culture found in organizations and why they are harmful to all, not just those of color:
…Culture is powerful precisely because it is so present and at the same time so very difficult to name or identify. The characteristics listed below are damaging because they are used as norms and standards without being proactively named or chosen by the group. They are damaging because they promote white supremacy thinking. Because we all live in a white supremacy culture, these characteristics show up in the attitudes and behaviors of all of us – people of color and white people. Therefore, these attitudes and behaviors can show up in any group or organization, whether it is white-led or predominantly white or people of color-led or predominantly people of color.
It is important to understand that Okun is speaking about White Supremacy not as a movement where participants believe that white people are superior to all other groups. Instead, Ms. Okun is referring to White Culture Supremacy – the notion that our society is dominated by characteristics of (traditional, hetero-normative, Anglo-Saxon) White Culture that put those of other cultures, backgrounds and identities at an inherent disadvantage because those characteristics are attributed as a societal norm. To make the distinction, Okun does not believe that all white people and their culture are bad or that all white people are made to believe that they are better than everyone else. In fact, she is not referring to white PEOPLE as a group at all. The point she is trying to make instead is that allowing our society to be ruled and governed by aspects of a culture that not all ascribe to is harmful because it inherently asserts bias and preference to those who are perceived to be of the White European cultural persuasion, regardless of whether they want it or not. Additionally, people and groups of color can unknowingly also participate in perpetuating White Culture Supremacy . All other norms are therefore perceived to be of lesser value or “incorrect”.
By understanding the characteristics of White Culture Supremacy and identifying them as cultural bias instead of societal norms, we can begin to identify ways to be more inclusive of other perspectives and other individuals. Inclusivity strengthens us all by providing more creativity, more resources, more allies, more points of healing, more knowledge, more love, more respect and more appreciation for everyone. Greater sharing of power amongst us all does not damage or or hurt those to whom power has been ascribed. It does not mean that those who have inadvertently benefited from privilege are bad people or should feel guilt. But ensuring that true equity and inclusion happen means understanding the roots of oppression and inequality and making them visible and obsolete.
Which brings me back to my original assertion that art is perhaps humanity’s best tool to help understand each other, create a world with power shared more equitably amongst all and insure that all receive equal protection and safety under the law. Every culture has art. Every community has artists.Every human being has both aesthetic and biological needs, wants, and desires. It is what makes us human.
Where we tend to differ is in semantics. Something as simple as how we define what mediums or forms of expression we call art or creativity can be the first step to creating a more inclusive and understanding world. Emphasizing process and inclusivity of community over product and ego can help us to realize a greater communal artistic vision that we could achieve on our own. We can also chose to utilize our artistic voice to shed light on the characteristics of White Supremacy culture that harm us all.
So for those that, like myself, who struggle with how to be an effect ally to our friends, neighbors and loved ones, here are three ways that you can help to continue to move the needle forward:
Understand the privilege you have and utilize it in ways that dismantle systems of inequality and inequity. Voting, protesting, speaking to elected officials, and listening to others all fall under this category.
Work to identify and eradicate the ways that you personally perpetuate White Culture Supremacy.
Utilize your artwork and artistic voice as an expression of core values of equity and equality. And support organizations, institutions and other artists who maintain this core value as well.
And hopefully, then, one day, no one will need to write this blog post because the cultural constructs that harm us all will be obsolete.
Application for the Hatch Training Intensive is now open for the Fall 2016 session. For applications and more information about this training program, please check out the Hatch Training Intensive page. Deadline for application is August 15, 2016.
C4 Atlanta wishes you and yours the happiest 4th of July celebrations!
Whether you’re celebrating with family, friends, or your cat freedom is on the brain. For this Independence Day C4 Atlanta wants to provide you with some ways to begin your journey towards Financial Independence.
As an artist you may cringe at the words “Financial Independence”. More often than not Financial Independence is considered a synonym for Independently Wealthy… hence the bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The good news is you don’t need a large trust fund, inheritance, or six-figure salary to find the kind of financial independence needed live a life not reliant upon others. This may seem like a far fetched dream for many artists and creatives who work freelance and don’t maintain a full-time job. It doesn’t have to be. Financial Independence is a reality that is more achievable than many realize.
Here are some steps and suggestions for building a more financially sustainable future:
1. Have a plan.
Before you can begin working towards financial independence you have to know what that looks like for you. Everyone has their own dreams and desires. This means no one can identify the financial freedom need to to achieve your goals other than you. Ask yourself what financial independence personally means? Is it owning your own home, retiring at 50, or simply having the freedom to travel across the country? No matter what your answer(s) know that you have to have a goal. All finances, budgeting, and savings is tied deeply into goal setting. You have to know what path to take before you can begin walking it. If you don’t currently have long-term and short-term goals for your future this is the time to start.
2. Pay attention.
This seems like a no brainer, but ask yourself how frequently you actually sit down and balance your budget to acknowledge your spending. Once a month? Once a week? Awareness is power when it comes to finances, and you can’t be aware if you never spend time actually looking at how you spend your money. This is more than just collecting receipts in your jean pockets. You should take a simple 5 to 10 minutes out of every day to acknowledge how you spent the day before. This is a process. One that may be difficult for many, but there are easy and simple ways to achieve it. Many large banks have options such as a daily text messages to let you know how much money you have in the bank or when your account drops below $25. There are fantastic applications for your phone like MINT Bills, PocketGuard, Home Budget, and Level Money which provide a user-friendly money management interface that can help you gain a better picture of how you are spending your money. This kind of awareness is key in staying within the goals and budgeting you laid out for yourself in Step One so you can continue to work towards reaching those goals.
3. Protect yourself.
This is one of the hardest things that freelance artists and creative will deal with when trying to build financial freedom. The simplest and most effective way to protect yourself is to pay yourself. This might sound selfish, but to reach your vision of financial independence you HAVE to put yourself first. This means prioritizing saving money ahead of EVERYTHING else. Put money into savings before you pay all utilities, buy groceries, and even handle rent. By doing this first you encourage yourself to live on a smaller budget for the monthly expenses you normally incur. If you do work for an employer, have them deduct a specific amount from your paycheck every month. If you never see that money… there’s no way you can spend it. If you are a freelance artist that works on commission or contract make it a point to put a percentage of each job into savings. This kind of dedicated contribution will ensure that you are living on what’s left after paying yourself which is a fantastic way to begin building wealth and security measures in case of emergencies.
Another way to protect yourself includes maintaining a separate business and personal account. This is paramount in making sure that small business owners keep separate financial records from their personal spending, and is highly recommended by the Small Business Administration.
4. Think smart & frugal.
By simply reading this post you’ve already taken a vested interest in thinking smarter about your finances and spending. YAY! Of course, the action of doing so is the harder part of the cycle.
Artists are some of the most frugal people I’ve ever met. They know how to stretch a dollar for all it’s worth, so the suggestion of spending much less than you earn shouldn’t come as a surprise. Unfortunately, this is often very difficult for some. If you struggle with your spending consider ways of cutting cost such as coupons, the Freecycle Network, and buying supplies in bulk or from the “oops paint” section of Home Depot. To be able to truly think smart about finances you have focus on widening the gap between spending and income.
First you have to track your expenses as previously mentioned in Step Three, so you will have a clearer view of what things you can cut to keep lifestyle inflation to a minimum. Next you have to begin tackling high interest rates to minimize you debt. There are many ways that you an approach this including the Snowball Method, but realize that everyone’s debt is different and therefore everyone’s approach will be different. This is where a professional CPA can be beneficial. The key here is recognizing that ignoring your debt isn’t an option, and accumulating more consumer debt is also not an option. Equally as important is researching insurance policies that will protect your assets. These assets can include ANYTHING that you own from your computer to art work to your car.
Lastly, to be smart you have to be flexible. Some days and months are bound to be more difficult than others, but you need to be in a place to deal with the unexpected. If you have a savings plan in place then you’ll have a safety net when it’s needed. If you’re laid off or in a dead month… CUT EXPENSES! Don’t wait to deplete your savings before you cut back on your spending.
You don’t need millions of dollars to achieve financial independence for yourself and loved ones. Anyone can take the following 4 steps and implement them in ways that are most applicable to their current lifestyle. The most important thing is that you’re working towards smart spending and saving so that you can reach your personal goals in the future.
Interested in learning more about financial management?
Join C4 Atlanta this summer for a series of courses specifically focused on gaining and managing money.
July 8, 2016 from 10:30am to 1:30pm @ the Fuse Arts Center
I am not going to give you the answer you may be seeking. That’s because this is a blog…and ultimately the right answer is deeply personal.
At best I hope to just talk (type, really) through a few points in this blog. The topic of working for “exposure” often rears its frustrated head during our Ignite class. Artists are tired of being asked to give away their work and/or creative energy for free. I get it.
So when do you give away your art?
It is up to you. Really. But I am going to go through a few ways of thinking about intentional giving.
and how they add or detract from the fair valuation of art. I am not adding to that conversation in this blog at this time. What I do want to examine is mission. If you believe in the mission of the organizer or nonprofit that is raising funds, then feel free to give. If you feel uneasy about the balance of power, then don’t give. Support the mission of organizations that speak to you and your core values. I am not putting the onus of creating value in the marketplace on the artist–what I am saying is this: be selective, be purposeful, be discriminate. Corporations do this ALL they time. They don’t give to everyone who asks.
Think about why you want to give and the impact of your gift. I know that I cannot personally give to every cause. Neither can you (unless you have a ton of money and in that case, let’s get lunch!). If you happen to receive accolades and exposure for your gift, great. I will never promise you that will happen if you give to C4. I will do my best to appreciate the heck out of you, but I would rather someone give because they believe in the work we are doing. There are some very worthy causes in our community. For thought: the average American household contributes more than $2,900 annually to charities.
If you want to give to a cause each year, put that in your budget. Make it its own expense line. When you have reached your giving cap, you can make the decision to dig deeper or you can say, “I am sorry, I have reached my budget for donations this year.” Again, corporations and wealthy people do this ALL the time. Track what you give. In an ideal world, I would love to be able to give away to charitable causes 10% of my income every year.
This is not tax advice. Just some stuff I know. Many of you know that if you are a visual artist, you cannot deduct the fair market value of your art donated to an auction, etc. There are legislators seeking to change this law. Realize that the change in law will not offer the fair market deductions for auctions, necessarily. Fundraising supports charitable work but itself is not a charitable activity. Furthermore, actors, dancers, singers, doctors, lawyers, CPAs, and the list goes on, do not receive a tax deduction for the time they give to a charitable cause. But they do it every year. In fact Georgia Lawyers for the Arts has a cadre of attorneys who provide in-kind service benefits in the millions. Millions. None of those attorneys are able to deduct their time spent.
A tax deduction would be a nice bonus to giving and C4 supports legislation to help artists received fair market value for art work that has a public benefit, but don’t let that be the reason or deterrent. Give because you believe in the cause.
Artists are often underpaid. Negotiate. Work for money, not exposure. Determine your fair value, and demand it. Your fellow artists will also be the better for it, because it will encourage the market to appreciate fair value for all arts workers. Make sure you learn about budgeting. Understand the difference between direct and indirect costs. Pay yourself–I mean really. This is key. When we asked funders what one of the biggest mistakes artists make when submitting a grant application they replied that artists often omit in their budgets a line item for their own artist’s fee. Add it as a line item in your project budget. You may have to invest up front as you begin your art career–this isn’t unusual in most businesses. Many businesses began with “debt equity.” The restaurant business, your local gym, the oil change-slash-car-wash-place, local nursery, and the list goes on. As a freelancer, do your best to move to a place where your total costs are covered in your project expense budgets.
Work toward not coming out of pocket for a project that someone else hired you to complete. You will resent the work.
There are projects that you will want to put your own money into. You may self-produce to: raise awareness for a cause, experiment with a new idea, work with a colleague you really respect, work on a piece of material (like a script) that has had your heart for awhile…or you just want to try something new. All valid reasons.
My only advice: find balance. I mean balance of power, balance of live/work, balance of paid/unpaid, and balance of love for the practice.
I am personally hesitant to take on interns. This is because a true internship benefits the the intern more than the host company. In fact, interns are not supposed to help you expand your bottom line. I do not want free labor. I want our interns to get a) educational credit b) paid or c) a ton of experience that will help her/his career move forward. Volunteers and interns are not the same.
I think it is also worth mentioning that internships by their very nature, sometimes breed inequality. How? Think about it. You can’t support a family on an internship unless you have savings, a family member willing to cover your expenses while you intern, or the ability to pay back loans.
I am not against internships. I have had some wonderful internship opportunities.
When considering an internship, think about what you will receive from your training. How will you use it? Are you making connections? Do your career goals align with the internship opportunity? Are you learning marketable skills? Does the internship offer a stipend? Who benefits more, you or the company?
I am sure you have your own thoughts about the arts economy. Feel free to leave a comment. Remember, this is not an exhaustive research post. I am also not speaking for every staff member or board member…how could I? I am one person. I can say that as an organization, we want to see artists being paid fair wages. It’s the right thing to do. Period.
Social Media… two simple words that when used together often initiate fear and frustration in small business owners. Now a days not having a presence on Social Media isn’t an option since it is expected that 2.5 billion people world wide will be using social media by 2018 (STATISTA).
It’s also not difficult then to understand the importance of Social Media as a marketing tool… It’s where the people are.
Nonetheless, I am constantly approached by artists and creative workers who struggle with social media, don’t want to use it, or are daunted by where to begin. I hear questions like:
“I have a Facebook, but no one is following me. What am I doing wrong?”
“Do I really have to pay for Facebook Ads?”
“How do you use Snapchat?!”
“No one is RSVPing to my event.”
“Why is no one following me on Twitter?”
“Can you please explain a hashtag?!”
“Do I really need a separate business page on Facebook?”
“What do people use Snapchat for?”
“Should I buy supporters/followers?”
“Do people even still use Twitter?”
“How do people sell art through Instagram?”
All of these are important questions which most creative entrepreneurs struggle with. This is why C4 Atlanta has developed “Dive into Social Media”. My hope is to answer questions associated with the major social media platforms and their audiences while providing tips for effective (and authentic) engagement. Below is a sneak preview of a few specific topics which will be covered in this 3 hour class hosted by C4 Atlanta at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.
How to use Snapchat:
Snapchat can no longer be ignored. With 57 million American’s using it, 70% of which Millennials, Snapchat is the largest growing social media platform on the market (MEDIAKIX). Unfortunately, many people find the user interface less than friendly. During this course we will do a deep dive into how EXACTLY to use Snapchat and the many features associated with it. We’ll take a look at “all-star” users such as Shonduras and GrubHub and see what they are doing to grow an audience. Trust me, you’ll be a Snapchat pro before you know it.
Which audiences are using what platforms:
The PEW Research Center recently released new information showing that 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites. This is good news! More people are on more social media platforms, but identifying which ones can be difficult. Each platform is unique in it’s offering and therefore also unique in its users. During “Dive into Social Media” we will take a look at exactly what demographics are using which platforms so that you can target the right audience for your business.
What platforms are right for my creative business:
With all the different platforms out there it can be daunting trying to figure out which ones are right for your business or practice. No single person can manage them all, and the last thing you want is to waste time and energy on a platform that isn’t reaching your audience. For this course we have designed an activity to look specifically at your marketing goals/audience and match them to the RIGHT platform.
How do I best utilize Facebook:
Lets face it, almost EVERYONE is on Facebook nowadays. Friends, colleagues, Grandma, and even your anti-social cousin are on Facebook. It is still the most widely used platform in the world with over 1.35 billion people using it monthly… that’s almost equal to the population of China (Washington Post). Because of it’s large user base Facebook rivals other platforms in regards to the marketing opportunities available, but not everyone understands the differences in these opportunities. For this class we will look at Ads VS Boosted Post VS Organic Reach as well as a Pages VS Groups VS Events in hopes that Facebook will no longer be a marketing mystery.
What is branding and how can social media make it stronger:
The word branding is tossed around a lot in small business. As if it’s some magic key that when found will open up all the doors for making money. But what is it really? If we take a step back and look at the origins of the word branding it comes from the labeling of livestock. Branding is the literal mark made on animals so that others can identify who it belongs to. “Branding” is often used interchangeably (and incorrectly) with the term marketing, and even though they can work hand in hand, Branding is really the established presence your business has. For this class we will look at how to build a stronger brand using social media so you’re not simply pushing content but pulling your audience into your offerings to keep them coming back for more.