Category: Advocacy

COVID-19 Artist Impact Survey # 1 – Analysis

In March 2020 C4 Atlanta created the Atlanta Artist Lost Gig Fund to help artists during COVID-19.

The purpose of this survey was to gauge the overall impact of losses by individual artists and impact due to COVID-19 related social distancing and medical issues.

 

Last month C4 Atlanta published preliminary findings of the Atlanta COVID-19 Artist Impact Survey. As promised, we have shared above the presentation of all final results.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey, and to our partners:

Dekalb Entertainment Commission who helped to distribute the survey.

And the Atlanta Regional Commission who conducted data analysis.

This survey is modeled off of another survey by MidAmerica Arts Alliance of midwestern arts organizations. We have used their survey as a model in order to compare data between our two regions. In addition to releasing our findings publicly, we have shared this data with MidAmerica Arts Alliance in order to compare trends nationally in COVID-19 impact.

All findings are as of April 24, 2020, the date our survey initially closed.

Racial Equity in Funding During a Pandemic

Black man wearing a protective medical mask. He is making a heart sign with his hands.

From C4 Atlanta’s Executive Director:

This blog is in response to recently discovering that black arts organizations were excluded from the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta’s initial funding of $580,000 to support COVID-19 impact relief. In the spirit of transparency, C4 Atlanta has received several grant awards from the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta (CFGA). They have primarily funded our civic engagement programs. In 2019, we were awarded a two-year general operating award. I am grateful. Service organizations are often overlooked in the City of Atlanta by local funders. Over the last few years, that has started to change for us as we grow and are anchored more into the arts community. C4 Atlanta is a white-led organization. I am white. I can tout our diverse audience of artist practitioners, I can talk to you about board diversity, and I can point out that I am the only white, non-latinx staff member. But I am white and my white face is often considered the face of the organization because I, with another white person, founded the organization in 2010.

I am deeply concerned , during this critical juncture in our city, that not one black arts organization was funded by the CFGA in its first round of grants. To quote my colleague Anne Dennington, Executive Director of Flux Projects, who put it simply: ” Arts organizations in Atlanta struggle for funding in good times.  Many will not weather the current financial crises.  As a city, we cannot afford to lose our Black organizations.  And if we do not recognize the inequity in our local philanthropy soon, we may do just that.”  How can we help to bridge this gap with the next round of funding? How can we ensure policies and practices of the Foundation going forward ensure an equitable distribution of resources to black organizations that have been historically left behind?

The next part of this blog is for my colleague. I support her. I want you to read her words. I told her I would do an intro. Any heat that comes can come to me. But I don’t think that will happen. I think the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta and other funders will do the right thing. Be well.

–Jessyca Holland, Executive Director


Now more than ever, there is an opportunity to pivot towards more equitable ways of working as our world changes to deal with COVID-19. Our normal after this pandemic will not look the same.

COVID-19 is affecting Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Color at profoundly higher rates than white communities. This virus has ravaged entire families and communities. However, COVID-19 has also given us a chance to embrace abundance, rather than scarcity, and remake the system. We don’t have to return to the way things were if we don’t want to.

This is why investment in culturally specific arts organizations is so important right now. Those that have the power to make this systemic and dynamic shift are funders and those providing COVID-19 relief aid.

If you’re asking “What does she mean by culturally specific?”, here’s my own layman’s definition: a culturally specific organization is one that exists primarily to serve a particular culture, race, or ethnicity through the lens of that specific cultural experience. Usually, these organizations are led by and founded by people who identify as the same culture that they serve. Why are they important? They address the specific cultural needs, beliefs, and nuances of that community, usually operating also through the lens of that culture. They are critical for providing support to that community, providing an affinity space of shared experience and all too often, creating opportunities for that community where few existed before in white-led organizations. These are a different type of organization than those who are white-led but serve communities of color.

In the art world, culturally specific organizations can be a critical career pipeline for artists of color to build their careers and a place where other systemic barriers like access to formal education or familial wealth are broken down. They are often spaces where folks from that community can feel fully themselves, seeing artistic work and leadership that reflects their own experiences. To sum it up – we need them. They are essential. And we need them NOT to go away.

Already arts leaders are thinking about how important our arts organizations will be in leading rebuilding efforts post-COVID. As my colleague Morgan Carlisle was recently quoted, “The same people who create that ‘Atlanta experience’ are the same people losing their touring gigs, closing their box offices, taking down their exhibitions, and canceling their educational classes. It’s heartbreaking. What will the city look and sound like when it is safe to go outside again?”

We can use COVID-19 as an opportunity for not only rebuilding but also a time to go further by creating a significant investment in organizations working at the forefront of racial equity daily servicing communities experiencing the deepest losses.

For Atlanta specifically, the “Atlanta Experience” is tied to the Black experience, and therefore Black arts organizations who support the growth of the culture that has created Atlanta’s global identity. When we talk about culturally specific organizations and BIPOC-led organizations, in Atlanta, we must recognize the significant way that OUR city has thrived specifically due to the contributions, labor, ideas, and work of Black people. Let me be completely clear – it’s not just that the black community has played some part. The Atlanta that we know would not exist without black people and black leadership. We cannot make mention of culturally specific leadership as a generalization here, though Asian, Latinx, and other communities of color have had an important impact, too. But it is BLACK leadership, Black work, and Black expressions of artmaking that has predominated. As a Mexican-American Latina, I recognize that these contributions have benefited Latinx folks’ advancement as well.

As we strategize then to best survive, regrow, and resow the cultural assets that are needed to support Black communities that have been over proportionately affected by COVID-19, we must prioritize the capitalization and rebuilding of black and black-led arts organizations. These organizations will be best poised to do work in communities hardest hit because they’ve already been doing this work for decades. Equity in the arts is EVERYONE’s job, but let’s take this time to acknowledge the way we want to move forward by creating a significant lasting investment in the people who have been working on equity since before there was money attached to that word.

For those that fund, there has to also be an acknowledgment and a reckoning with the fact that traditional philanthropy hasn’t done a great job of equitably funding culturally specific and POC-led organizations. When you haven’t acknowledged or invested in the work of communities for years, this builds the kind of distrust that even a pandemic can’t undo. I applaud the many funders who have or are taking strides to reconsider equity within their work. But now is not the time to think about what we can do, but to think about what is the RIGHT thing to do.

Because of the systemic inequity that has existed, many black artist-entrepreneurs that I know or have worked with are turning away from the non-profit organizational structure, because they do not feel like it serves them. That doesn’t mean, however, that their artistic work doesn’t still have public benefit or provide service to the community. They are simply choosing to do the work and operate without the constraints (but also without the philanthropic resources) of the nonprofit governance structure.

Funders: you cannot assume that just because you have money to give to offer relief, leaders of color and organizations of color to now trust that you will see their organizations as fundable when you have not invested in them in the past. To do so is to miss out on an important relationship-building opportunity to truly embrace equity.

What can aid-makers do? Firstly, consider the constraints that staff is currently under. Lengthy aid applications with lots of financial reporting documents are, frankly, kind of ridiculous right now. Consider making your applications as short as is necessary to get the information you need most, one-step if possible. Especially for organizations for which you have not made a significant investment in the past. Why would any good leader spend a significant amount of work time now, when getting funding quickly is most critical, on an application to a funder that they’ve had no success with in the past when they can use that time to pursue other opportunities with other individuals with whom they DO have a relationship? Only necessary, relevant, and current financial documentation has any bearing on how relief will be beneficial. No one is meeting the budget they set out to this year. No one is doing all the programming they intended. Ask for only the most relevant information, and understand that it probably has very little to do with what the future may look like given that we’ve all thrown everything we planned out the window. And what we thought the new normal might look like is literally changing day by day. A financial review or an audit that is more than a few days old isn’t going to tell you much about what the future is going to look like, and both cost a lot of money. If there are types of organizations you wished were in your funding pool, now is a great time to begin to build a relationship by reaching out to ask them directly to apply. That’s a very different gesture than telling your previously funded organizations to share with their networks or those they know who need it. Do both. Lastly, now is the time to also consider that not all organizations that serve the community look like the traditional non-profit. We know that significant investment in small and mid-sized organizations can catalyze their growth well into the future. Consider opening up funding pools in non-traditional ways or allowing fiscally sponsored projects to apply for funding to continue important community arts work happening outside the nonprofit structure.

While it is far from the only change needed, relief aid funders do have the power to contribute to making a more equitable culture of investment in racial equity than in the past. Instead of encouraging us to compete for what money is there, emphasis should be placed on helping us to meet the needs of the present situation in the most compelling and relevant way possible. Equity is a pretty word, but true equity looks like making sure our culturally specific organizations survive this pandemic so that they can be around to serve their communities and rebuild to a better place than before COVID-19.

— Audrey Gámez, Education Director

Atlanta COVID-19 Artist Impact Survey – Preliminary Findings

 

C4 Atlanta recently closed the Atlanta COVID-19 Artist Impact Survey. Our staff would like to share some of the preliminary findings ahead of our full data analysis. We will be sharing more detailed findings shortly.

The purpose of this survey was to gauge the overall impact of losses by individual artists and impact due to COVID-19 related social distancing and medical issues.

C4 Atlanta partnered with Dekalb Entertainment Commission to distribute the survey.

The Atlanta Regional Commission has agreed to help with data analysis and is currently pouring over our data for deeper dives.

This survey is modeled off of another survey by MidAmerica Arts Alliance of midwestern arts organizations. We have used their survey as a model in order to compare data between our two regions. In addition to releasing our findings publicly, we will share our data with MidAmerica Arts Alliance in order to compare trends nationally in COVID-19 impact.

We intend to release a follow-up survey later in the summer gauging longer-term impact and changes as the pandemic progresses.

All findings are as of April 24, 2020, the date our survey initially closed.

 

Here is a snapshot of our preliminary data:

  • As of April 24, the total amount lost for all artists responding (about 978 of 1014 total responses) is between  $5.1 and $6.9 million.
  • Initial lost income estimates (per artist) – As of April 24, it is estimated that the average about of income lost is between  $5,230 – $7,092 per artist and could be even higher since some artists reported losing $20,000+.

 

Who responded: 1014 individuals

    • Gender:  66% women, 32% men, 2% nonbinary
    • Ethnicity: 62% White, 23% Black, remaining 15% Asian, Latinx, and other races or declined to answer
    • Disciplines: From all sorts of disciplines but the largest sectors represented were 28% theatre or acting, 23% film production, 14% visual, 12% music, with other disciplines represented in smaller percentages.
    • Percentage of overall income derived from art making or arts industry work: 50% get most or all of their income from their art practice. 65% get at least half.

 

What has been lost (as of April 24, 2020):

 

 A graph showing "To Date, How many jobs/gigis have you lost due to COVID-19 cancellations/closures/precautions? (It is okay to estimate.)

  • Amount of Gigs/Jobs lost: 66% have lost 3 or more paying gigs; 34% have lost 6 or more

 

    • A graph showing "To date, what are your estimated lost wages/earnings due to temporary closures/cancellations related to COVID-19? (It is okay to estimate.)
      • 75% of responding artists have lost more than $1000 so far;  40% have lost more than $5000 so far. Some have already lost more than $20k.
      • Overall 83% have lost enough to impact their livelihood
      • If they earn income from outside of the arts, 72% have lost or partially lost that income.

What does that mean for them?

a graph showing "Please finish this sentence: Right now I feel confident I can meet my basic financial obligations until _______."

      • For April 2020, 25% are NOT confident they can meet their financial obligations
      • By August that number rises to 75%
      • If they were to have to rely just on savings, 40% could make it three months or longer. 15% could make it six months.
    • A graph showing "how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your creative output?"
      • 64% report that their creative output has decreased. (Only 17% report their creative output has increased.)

What do they need? 

 

A graph showing "How has COVID-19 impacted your livelibood as an artist to date? (check all that apply.)"

 

  • 44% reported that their mental health was impacted.

 

A graph showing " What typses of support do you need right now? (check all that apply.)"

  • Top Three Biggest Needs:
      • Salary and wages – either gigs, if feasible, or replacement (63%)
      • Mortgage or rent relief (40%)
      • Communication tools/resources (19%)
  • A graph showing " have you applied or do you plan to apply for any form of emergency relief funding?"
  • 58% of responding artists intended to apply for some form of emergency relief funding.

We’ll release more findings shortly!

Special thanks to our partners Shelbia Jackson at Dekalb Entertainment Commission, Josh Phillipson and Maria Sotnikova at the Atlanta Regional Commission! Thanks also to the many other artists, artists groups and arts organizations who shared this survey.

 

Dekalbe Entertainment Commission logo and C4 Atlanta logo.

 

C4 Atlanta Forums on Power in the Arts – Part 2

A photo of Brea Heidelberg at the event.
Dr. Brea Heidelberg

C4 Atlanta is committed to the needs of a thriving arts community in our city. To that end, we’ve been working over the last few months on exploring power dynamics and distribution within our own arts ecology and within the organizational cultures of our arts organizations. Inequality in our city is well researched and well-documented. A Bloomberg study in 2018 found that Atlanta had the worst income inequality of any major city in the United States. But wealth is only one form of power. In an industry where so-called “diva” behavior is not only accepted, but even encouraged, we wanted to see what other organizational pressures and disparities our community had faced. What had Atlanta artists, arts administrators and arts organizations experienced, and what resources existed to help us create the arts environment that Atlanta deserves?

Our second part of this series focuses on our second program around power in organizational culture. On August 22, 2019, C4 Atlanta held Arts and Leadership Forum: Diversity Equity and Inclusion with Dr. Brea Heidelberg at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Dr. Heidelberg is an arts management educator, consultant, and researcher focusing on the intersection of the arts and other fields of study. She joined the Entertainment & Arts Management faculty at Temple University in 2017 and currently serves as Assistant Director of the program. Dr. Heidelberg is a respected expert in organizational culture in the arts, and a sought after speaker on this topic. We were honored to welcome her to facilitate the day’s activities. Organizational leaders and arts administrators gathered with individual artists to consider how toxic organizational culture manifests both in our organizations and in our Atlanta arts ecosystem. This program was once again presented in partnership with our friends at Alternate ROOTS. Here is a summary of what was discussed, what came out of this conversation, and what are the next steps.

Event Summary:

C4’s Executive Director, Jessyca Holland welcomed participants and set a general expectation for the overall day. Lauren Tate Baeza, Director of Exhibitions for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, shared with us more about the Center and the work they are currently doing to help ground us in place.

Jessyca then introduced Dr. Heidelberg, who both shared information and facilitated conversation throughout the day regarding how organizational culture can affect diversity, equity and inclusion goals within organizations and the Atlanta arts eco-system. Organizational culture is the values and behaviors that shape the dynamics, practices and psychology within your workplace. Organizational culture is different from organizational policy, although some organizations may have policies that help shape their culture. For instance, policies about how folks are expected to dress and what happens if they are late may shape the attitudes that folks have about their workplace. But often many aspects of organizational culture are more informally shaped by whom is in leadership and the behaviors and attitudes of those who work for the organization.

Organizational culture manifests in behaviors such whether everyone gathers in the break room to discuss a TV show, how guests in your work space are treated, and even attitudes regarding what is appropriate behavior within the organizational environment (i.e. are weekends sacred or do your co-workers email outside of work hours?). An organization’s culture can also shape who is attracted or repelled from working there. If employees do not feel welcome or respected within the organization’s culture, they may look elsewhere for a place that feels more comfortable. This can work against the stated diversity, equity and inclusion efforts of an organization, and can lead to employee turnover. Simply creating policies for greater equity isn’t enough. Dr. Heidelberg underscored that organizational culture can either undo intentions or keep us accountable.

The purpose of Dr. Heidelberg’s presentation was to provide an opportunity for arts leaders and individual artists in the community to have a place to discuss how organizational culture manifests and how we can disrupt models that work against a more equitable system. Dr. Heidelberg explained the many ways that organizational culture can manifest and what it can look like for folks to feel like outsiders within the organization. Toxic organizational culture is culture that can breed unhealthy work behavior, psychology or habits. Dr. Heidelberg mentioned that she is also a consultant for organizations looking to diagnose why their organizational strategic shifts aren’t working, and this is often related to organizational culture.

Organizational culture is strong, and individuals are the culture bearers of their organizations. It is up to individuals within the culture to be accountable for culture shifts, and this can be difficult if you are the only individual within your organization working to change the culture within. Many participants expressed stress and feelings of hopelessness when working within a culture that they felt actively stifled the changes they were trying to make within to become more equitable. Dr. Heidelberg stressed that changing inequity within the arts required both a well stocked “toolkit” of resources and a penchant for self preservation. Sometimes the appropriate response to certain situations requires nuance and finesse, while humor can sometimes more effectively convey a sensitive message. But above all, she stressed that folks not be accept being abused or taken advantage of.

Dr. Heidelberg facilitated a few group discussions throughout the day. In one, participants were asked to identify indicators of the nature of organizational culture within the Atlanta arts community. Some of the following were identified as indicators:

  • Artist and administrator pay.
  • Attitudes towards the arts.
  • Money allotted by foundations and government for arts and culture.
  • Attitudes towards individual artists.
  • Professional development opportunities available for younger arts professionals.
  • Who is involved in conversations that pertain to individual artists and to arts organizations? Who is regularly given a seat at the table, and who is never given a seat at the table?
  • Public commitment or policies for diversity, equity and inclusion with no femme-identifying senior leadership or employees of color.
  • Staff turnover rates.
  • Board leadership.

After this initial discussion, Dr. Heidelberg lead participants through an understanding of how to consider their own organizational culture. Steps to diagnose and change culture included:

 

Dr. Heidelberg stressed that policy and action plans aren’t enough. Plans are only as good as the folks within an organization that hold themselves accountable for change. Organizational culture is pervasive and stubborn. There is a REASON why that was the default culture prior to trying to shift. It’s important that EVERYONE be on board for the cultural shift. It is not one person’s job to be accountable for the organizational culture change for the entire organization, but everyone’s responsibility. Without accountability from all who experience it, previous organizational culture will not change.

To that end, Dr. Heidelberg stressed that at times that can also mean that organizational culture WILL NOT change until those who actively oppose the change or passively block change from happening end up leaving that culture.

At the end of our time together, Dr. Heidelberg asked us to come together to think about some of the aspects of organizational culture that we wanted to change within the Atlanta arts ecology and some ways to make change Some of the suggestions were:

  • Nurture and provide support for employees even if it means they may eventually leave for more pay or more opportunity at other organizations that you are not able to provide. Instead of worrying about losing good people, be the best training ground possible for administrators and artists in your community.
  • Where you can’t provide improvement in wages, provide training and other benefits. Examples: a seat at the table in important conversations, a fantastic work culture, opportunities to learn new skills, etc.
  • Pay people a livable wage.
  • Create standard procedures for exit interviews conducted by staff who are not in supervisory roles over the person leaving. Make exit interviews a part of your culture and a way to learn more about the reasons why people leave your organization.
  • If you haven’t done so already, create procedures for complaints.
  • As an individual, document complaints or problems in work culture that drive you to leave for your predecessor and yourself. You can share these with those who come after you to share the burden of responsibility for change with them. Additionally, you can also choose to keep this for yourself to document what you are not willing to tolerate moving forward.
  • Refuse requests to operate in an inequitable way, and explain your choice to your colleagues should they request that you do so.
  • Know what tool is appropriate to point out toxic behavior when necessary. Sometimes a hammer is necessary, and sometimes humor is necessary.
  • Take care of yourself and your needs.

Thanks to all who attended!

Photos by Krista M Jones

A picture of the crowd at the event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C4 Atlanta Forums on Power in the Arts – Part 1

C4 Atlanta is committed to the needs of a thriving arts community in our city. To that end, we’ve been working over the last few months on exploring power dynamics and distribution within our own arts ecology and within the organizational cultures of our arts organizations. Inequality in our city is well researched and well-documented. A Bloomberg study in 2018 found that Atlanta had the worst income inequality of any major city in the United States. But wealth is only one form of power. In an industry where so-called “diva” behavior is not only accepted, but even encouraged, we wanted to see what other organizational pressures and disparities our community had faced. What had Atlanta artists, arts administrators and arts organizations experienced, and what resources existed to help us create the arts environment that Atlanta deserves?

This first blog post is dedicated to the first of these two programs which occurred at Hammonds House Museum on May 19, 2019. A second post will be forthcoming on our second program at the Center for Civil and Human Rights on August 22, 2019.

Two hands holding. Digital syle. One red and one blue. Futuristic and glowing.

C4 Atlanta, in partnership with our friends at Alternate ROOTS, invited artists, art administrators, and community members to take part in a conversation about power in the Arts Community at Hammonds House. Over 40 arts workers showed up on a Sunday evening to share their stories and experiences in working with and within the Atlanta arts community. The conversation was facilitated by Christine Gautreaux and Karimah Dillard, both members of Alternate ROOTS. Both Karimah and Christine have backgrounds in social work and the arts. In an effort to avoid triggering events and past traumas of attendees, groups were asked to focus on broader systemic issues rather than personal encounters. Here is a summary of what the event timeline was, what came out of this conversation, and what are the next steps.

Event Summary:

The meeting began with a grounding poem titled “Invitation to Brave Space” By Micky ScottBey Jones and A Call to Acknowledgement read aloud by Jessyca Holland. Terms and definitions were dispersed among the attendees for common vocabulary that might be used. The group at large collectively agreed upon “community agreements” (collective rules of conduct for the evening) by unanimous consensus.

Attendees were divided at random into six Story Circle groups. Story Circle is a device commonly used by members of Alternate ROOTS for sharing stories in a group. The Story Circle worked like this: 1) Each group had a designated scribe assigned to listen and write down themes of what they heard shared. 2) Each person in the group gets a set specific amount of time to share whatever they would like based on the question asked of the entire group. 3) The only person allowed to talk during this designated time is the speaker. All questions or comments must be held until everyone has had a turn to speak. 3) Once everyone has had a turn to speak, the scribe summarizes common themes back to the group. The entire group can comment on the themes shared, provide clarity and ask questions.

Group responses were recorded on large flip board charts for all to see in the space.

Break-Out Session 1:

Prompt 1:

“Why are you here tonight?” OR “Why do you feel this was important?”

Collective Responses (Edited for brevity by C4 Staff):

  • I am here to intentionally acknowledge that harm has been done.
  • I want to continue to offer freedom to collaborate but mature as leaders and be an ambassador to community values.
  • There is a trend of prioritization “saving face” and PR, rather than authenticity.
  • I want to be involved in the reshaping of how we want the arts community to viewed going forward.
  • Arts professionals/artists have been forced to silence self to be complicit in order to succeed.
  • People are listening and are present but still not responding.
  • Addressing abusive personal/professional relationships.
  • Taking responsibility for your own role in community.
  • Recognizing trauma
  • Wants to see an ethical handling of complaints/transparency.

Break Out Session 2:

Prompt 2:

Prompt is “I wish…” or “My solution is…”

  • Take more responsibility for your own role in community. How you’re perpetuating or contributing to those narratives.
  • Shift from solution based to progress based.
  • Continuing having conversations across community to protect your own and provide spaces to heal.
  • Thinking of ways to share power outside of financials.
  • Hold leadership accountable.
  • Have a designated person on an org’s your Board for sharing the grievances of those you serve. That way, if folks are not comfortable talking to staff, there is someone else to listen.
  • I wish Atlanta artists didn’t feel so undervalued because we default to patterns of people we see in power.
  • Close the gap between artists and administrators so that administrators have access to artists’ experience as foundation to the work.
  • I wish more people were willing to listen.
  • Process a community as call-in vs call out culture.

Additionally, facilitators captured some topics that we had heard artists tell us they had experienced in the past. The facilitators developed a colored dot system where dots corresponded to personal experience with each issue. Artists were asked to place a dot next to any of the issues that had affected them in some way. Below are photos of this exercise.

Facilitators asked participants to respond to key themes based on their experiences using a colored sticker system. Each sticker color stands for a different experience.
A photo of a flip board chart showing colored stickers under community issue topics.
Artists left stickers to share whether they had personally experienced the issue, had seen it happen to someone else or had heard of it happening.
A photo of colored stickers placed under issues in the arts community.
Utilizing the colored dot system, issues that had affected the greatest number of people where easy to identify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After this event,

 

C4 let participants know that a follow-up on power distribution within organizational culture in the arts with Dr. Brea Heidelberg would be forthcoming. Stay tuned for the update from this event coming soon!

 

 

 

 

New Voter Engagement Initiative Using Art

C4 Atlanta collaborates with local artists to encourage people to vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections
DATE: Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Atlanta, GA – C4 Atlanta is excited to collaborate with sound artists, Meredith Kooi and Floyd Hall on Vote With Your heART, a civic engagement project designed to encourage people, especially the under-35 age group, to vote in the 2018 Midterm elections. This project is nonpartisan. Vote With Your heART is generously supported by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta through a $5,000 award from their Civic Engagement Fund. Part art project, part civic intervention, Vote With Your heART is an invitation to the citizens of Atlanta to vote on November 6, 2018.

Vote with Your heART seeks to encourage Atlanta citizens, particularly young voters, to participate in the voting process
through a simple invitation to join the process. Floyd and Meredith have captured the stories of local residents’ experiences with civic participation. Through our public art instillation and website, passersby can listen to these compelling stories from Atlantans of diverse backgrounds and points of view. The temporary installation will be located at two local universities this fall and in Woodruff Park during Atlanta Streets Alive.
During the in-person events, students and other participants are invited to record their own stories and reactions
with local artists Floyd Hall and Meredith Kooi. Participants will have the chance to share their stories inside Meredith Kooi’s Buckminster geodesic dome, known as the Bucky Dome. These stories will be broadcast over an internet radio channel during
Atlanta Streets Alive. All interviews are housed on the site c4atlanta.org/voteart
Additionally, research tell us that many people do not participate in the voting process because no one asked them. C4 Atlanta will be literally inviting people to participate in their community through voting. Designer and printmaker Lennie Gray Mowris is designing an actual handmade letterpress invitation to be a part of our democratic process.

“The website serves as a repository for stories about voting and civic engagement,” said Jessyca Holland, C4’s Executive Director. “But it also serves as a place where anyone in Georgia with internet access can learn about voter registration, polling location, and it links to information about the candidates. By setting up the listening dome we hope to engage with as many people as possible. Maybe this project will give us better insight into how people in Georgia feel the  political process.”
Vote With Your heART web address:https://c4atlanta.org/voteart
Atlanta Streets Alive – Activity PartnerWoodruff Park, Downtown September 30, 2018 Free & Open to the public
About C4 Atlanta:
C4 Atlanta Inc. is a non-profit arts service organization whose mission is to connect arts entrepreneurs to the people, skills and tools they need to build a successful artistic career in metro Atlanta. The organization was founded in July 2010 in response to a growing need for business services for Atlanta’s arts community. C4 Atlanta fulfills this mission by offering professional practice classes for artists, fiscal sponsorship, co-working space, and advocacy for arts workers. C4 Atlanta’s program offerings are geared toward creating a new foundation of sustainability for arts and culture in the Atlanta region. For more information, visit c4atlanta.org.

The Candidates + Artists (Part Three) – City Council

Yesterday, we posted the candidates for Mayor of Atlanta responses to our questionnaire. You may also download the PDF version of their responses HERE.

We also collected responses from candidates for city council. We received a number of replies from almost all of the districts. This was a little tougher to collect. We received bounce-back emails, some candidates didn’t have a website, or no email information was available on their Facebook pages. After qualification, we culled down our list and used the email contact info found on the city’s site. The initial outreach took hours because of the amount of sleuthing it took to find contact emails for candidates. I mention all of this to explain why we don’t have a majority of responses; however, we do have feedback from some viable candidates (about 15 of them).

I am not going to copy city council replies within the body of this blog–it is a lot of pages. However, we created a handy-dandy PDF with city council candidate responses: City Council Candidates’ Responses on the Arts (PDF)

Image of Atlanta
Photo by Ibstidham0. Courtesy of pixabay.

Just a note from me – nobody owns arts advocacy. Not us. Not anyone. In my opinion, the more voices the better. The more artists are engaged, the better. After this election (and very likely runoff(s)) we know one thing will be true: we will have a new mayor and we will have a city council that looks much different than what we have now.

Stay engaged. Stay engaged. Stay engaged. 

Our elected officials work for you. Volunteer. Join your local neighborhood association and NPU. Your voice matters. I know many in our city have been left out for years. I hope to see those people reclaim their voices in local politics. Look around your local meetings. Who is there? Who isn’t? How can you, as an artist (or arts supporter) use your privilege (education, social status, etc.) to widen the circle of inclusion? Diverse cities are stronger.

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We often ask: “how do we keep artists in Atlanta?” This is a complex question that requires a comprehensive-solution based approach. Education, jobs, affordability, transportation–these are part of the solution for artists and other sectors. But often we leave out civic engagement. Making space for artists to create ties to a city–to strengthen their social cohesion also helps retain artists.  That is C4’s interest. We want to see artists call Atlanta home. This is why we entered with more fervor the advocacy space two years ago. We also support artists self-organizing without institutions within their own networks. Together, we can build the Atlanta that truly supports art workers. Having said that, we are happy to continue to reach out to elected officials on policy matters that affect artists. We will keep doing this now and after the election. So! Onward and upward…and into 2018 which will usher in the gubernatorial race! (I need a nap)

Please vote on November 7th. #ArtistsVOTE

Candidates + Artists (Part Two) – Mayoral Race

We asked the candidates for Atlanta Mayor four questions about artists and Atlanta. It was a brief questionnaire. We are happy to report that we heard back from almost all of the candidates currently running. We did NOT receive a questionnaire response from the following campaigns: John Eaves, Vincent Fort, and Rohit Ammanamanchi. We emailed each campaign several times with reminders and we called each campaign (where we could find a phone number). C4 Atlanta does not endorse any candidate for Mayor or persons for any other elected office. Our goal was to get feedback from candidates about their ideas for supporting artists in Atlanta. There are many issues outside of the arts facing Atlanta–that is not lost on us. However, we serve artists in accordance with our mission so we focused on artists as central to our questionnaire.

Atlanta Skyline

*You may download a PDF Version of candidates’ responses    

To recap, here are the questions that we sent on behalf of our Advocacy Committee (artists, staff, and board members):

  • Who do you consider Atlanta’s Cultural leaders?

  • Considering such models as L.A. and Detroit (to name a few) that incorporate artists into planning and city government, what presence do you see for local artists in city government work beyond Contracts for Arts Services through OCA, Elevate, and city commissions?

  • How do you plan to work with *city council to protect the ways artists work in this city? (Some initiatives on our radar: removing barriers to small business development for artists and entrepreneurs; protection of free speech; freelancer benefits similar to NYC)?

  • How do you plan to include individual artists/freelancers in policies and programs to provide affordable housing and workspace?

    In no particular order, here are the candidates’ responses (note: we did not edit responses)

Keisha Lance Bottoms

“Our cultural leaders come in many forms. They are the young men who create music in their basements, the young women who design and sew their own clothes, the parents who support the Arts through volunteer hours and donations, they are the children who find passion in exploring culture in our Centers of Hope.

Cities across the country have turned to artists to inform their long-term planning. As Atlanta faces the future, we should certainly engage local artists for their uniquely valuable perspectives on the kind of city we can and should be. Minneapolis turned to local artists when deciding how to address a variety of social and environmental issues. San Francisco established an artist-in-residence program to increase public interest in recycling and re-use. And other cities, including Portland, Oregon and Philadelphia, have since adopted the artist-in-residence model, often in their planning departments. I think a program of this type would be a great fit for Atlanta, and I would be excited to work with artists and members of the philanthropic community to explore such a program as mayor.

Artists and artistic expression are vital to Atlanta’s culture and character. But I am connected to the arts in a more personal way: my father was a professional musician and, growing up, I saw everything it took to bring his craft to life. As mayor, I will bring those experiences with me to office, and I am looking forward to working with City Council to find ways to elevate the arts and to protect artists. I’ve brought forward one such idea with my All Rise Atlanta plan, which includes a proposal to support entrepreneurs and small businesses, including artists, by providing workspace, mentoring, and technical and other assistance to help them succeed.

Just like too many Atlantans, artists often struggle to make ends meet, taking on work outside of their creative field – including minimum wage work – just to pay the bills. At the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, a parent who works full time, year round, does not earn enough to be above the federal poverty line. That is why I passed legislation as a City Councilmember that raises the minimum wage to $15 for City of Atlanta employees, and why I will fight as mayor for the ability to raise the minimum wage for every Atlanta worker. I will also use the convening power of the mayor to bring artists and arts organizations together with public and private funders and local developers to address the particular needs of artists with respect to live/work options. Solving these issues starts with a collaborative stakeholder effort to identify the specific housing and workspace barriers artists are up against and – through research including a survey of other cities’ best practices — to identify a potential solutions that will work.”


Peter Aman

“The beauty of arts and culture is that no one has a monopoly. No one has ownership. The City, non-profit executives, and others can be at the vanguard as it relates to growing our cultural footprint, but that does not make them the leaders. If the John Lewis mural impacts your day, as it does for me as I head into the office, then muralist Sean Schwab is a leader. If you watch the show “Atlanta,” and it impacts the way you look at our city, then Donald Glover is a leader. From an arts and culture standpoint, hip-hop has put Atlanta on the map and you cannot talk about hip-hop without groups like Outkast. Atlanta’s arts cultural leaders come from all mediums, their audiences decide who they are.

I love the “City Walls” program in Detroit. Through a government pilot, they’ve taken blighted buildings, and other frequent targets of graffiti, and re-imagined them as canvasses. I would love to transcribe that model here. It’s a creative way to link arts and the built environment to the betterment of both. I am also a large proponent of the HIRE LA’s Youth program. The city partners with non-profits to find paid internships and on-ramps to meaningful employment for young people ages 14 to 24. The Office of Cultural Affairs plays a large part in that. I would like to try something similar in Atlanta where we approach the creative class and look for ways to guide aspiring artists towards meaningful employment.

We will start with bringing the arts and culture community, including artists and stakeholders, together with the City Council, other city departments and government entities to collectively find ways to work together. I often talk about finding ways to improve city services and get rid of unnecessary bureaucracy. That includes access to the city – making it easier to for artists to work with and in the city. Free speech is a particularly important issue in the arts world right now, most notably with murals. Right now, before a mural petition even gets to city council, three different officials have to review and approve it. Penalties can also be excessive. There’s plenty of work that can be done to streamline things. With regards to New York, I think that freelancers, not just in the arts, but in all sectors, should be paid in full and on time. Issuing city penalties for failure to comply is something worthy of conversation.

Dedicated housing for artists is critical. One idea I have is for shared creative spaces. The idea would be to work with non-profits to transition buildings so that the ground level can be used as free studio space while the upper levels could offer affordable units to the people working in those studios. This accomplishes two things that I think are essential: Finding artists an affordable place to live; and creating an environment where artists can work with one another and, in turn, offer a cultural space that the surrounding neighborhoods could frequent and integrate into their communities. The surest way to address housing affordability is by breaking down the silos and put forth a citywide, collaborative plan that tackles displacement and keeps our neighborhoods strong.”


Mary Norwood

“Robert Spano, Gennadi Nedvigin, Michael Shapiro, Susan Booth juust to name a few of many city cultural leaders.

Through my years as a supporter of the arts in Atlanta my husband, Dr. Felton Norwood, and I have championed the diversity of the artistic community as an enriching and essential component of life in our city. As mayor I will create a commission to report back to me with a list of specific needs and initiatives the city council and I should consider enacting. Yes, such an arts commission would no doubt take into account what is being done in other communities across the country and use these ideas to help shape what will best advance the arts in Atlanta.

[combined answer for 3&4] As mayor I will create a commission to report back to me with a list of specific needs and initiatives the city council and I should consider enacting. Yes, such an arts commission would no doubt take into account what is being done in other communities across the country and use these ideas to help shape what will best advance the arts in Atlanta.”


Glenn S. Wrightson

“Jimmy Carter – Andrew Young – Elton John – Evander Holyfield

Need an artist or two or three as advisers to the Mayor’s / City Council on most “public” decisions – where the “flavor” of spending tax dollars impacts citizens.

To insist ( as best as may ) that Council recognize both the expanse and respectable limitations of free speech – to educate the Council on the intrinsic benefit of allowing a broad understanding of allowance of expression beyond bricks and mortar – and to apply open consideration of most creative expressions that are appreciated by the majority of citizens.

I would like to have zoning revised to be open to building geodesic domes in areas of the City – which are the most economical living enclosures one can build and occupy. Would be receptive to allowing work for food and shelter arrangements.”


Ceasar Mitchell

“Atlanta has such as diverse cultural scene. In the music world, we have leaders like Ludacris, Killer Mike, Outkast, Ciara, and the Indigo Girls who have really embraced their hometown, to our amazing Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Kenny Leon has taken Atlanta’s theater world to new levels in his many endeavors here. The many artists who participate in Art on the Beltline have done amazing work in brining art outside the walls of museums and galleries.

To begin, I believe in an open and inclusive government where everyone can contribute. In addition to beautifying our City with innovative public art, I believe artists can play a significant role in addressing some of our most pressing social and political issues. Artists often have a deep sense of community and are connected to and invested in those around them. Because of this, artists have a unique perspective on challenges our residents face and can pose creative and thoughtful solutions to address each. As Mayor, I will engage local artists to raise awareness about and pose solutions to civic and social problems. I envision working with not-for-profit organizations, as well as our school system, to place these artists so that they can reach those who are not otherwise being touched by traditional government programs.

My mom taught art as an APS teach, so I grew up with an appreciation for art and an understanding that artists not only need creative freedom but also access to resources to work. To help protect the ways artists work in this city, I believe we should maintain our low sales tax rate to foster a business-friendly environment. As mayor, I would take a different approach than the current administration and ensure artists also have access to funding. This would be accomplished by utilizing the one and one-half percent required to be set aside in all capital bond projects, by City Code, for creating and maintaining public works of art. This has not been done in the past for other capital bond projects. In concert with securing new funding, I believe we can ensure those dollars go further if we identify a governance structure. We have to bring all of our existing councils together (city, county and state) and allow them, as experts, to determine how those funds are deployed. Finally, we’ve got to be an incubator, and make sure that we are creating and nurturing a new generation of artists. I also believe we should provide a path to success for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and others forging their own way. When I am Mayor, I will work with the Office of Cultural Affairs to implement two very important programs. One program will provide the resources and counsel necessary for artists and other entrepreneurs to start and maintain their businesses, while the other will provide advice regarding benefits and personal finance. I will also work with Atlanta Workforce Development to ensure that our artists have the opportunity to take full advantage of the City’s burgeoning film and entertainment industry by being informed of the various talent needs both on and off the set.

Ensuring an adequate supply of affordable housing will be one of my top priorities as Mayor. In addition to requiring developers to designate 20% of new units as “affordable” (up from the current 10-15%), I launch my “Blight to Light” initiative. This approach includes working with various development agencies, such as the Atlanta Housing Authority and the Atlanta Land Bank Authority, to transform 5,000 blighted and vacant homes around the Beltline and other historic neighborhoods into affordable housing options for low-income individuals and families. Working class teachers, police officers, firefighters and artists will be among those who qualify for assistance. Additionally, I will work with Invest Atlanta to create specific grants for artists, freelancers and entrepreneurs to secure housing.”


Cathy Woolard

“Chris Appleton, Radcliffe Bailey, Chantelle Rytter, Kenny Leon, Donald Glover, Lisa Adler, Lisa Cremin, Del Hamilton, Gregor Turk – we have so many great people contributing to our creative city – please forgive me all the people I’ve missed!

Artists should play a central role in any city’s development, and with Atlanta experiencing such tremendous growth, there’s an equally tremendous opportunity to allow our most creative talent a chance to shape our future. As mayor, I’ll capitalize on this moment. One of first things I’ll do is develop a plan for an annual poet laureateship in City Hall, and initiate the process of identifying the program’s first honoree. Other cities across the nation have already taken this step, and with so many great writers calling Atlanta home, it’s time our government acknowledge their contributions in a more significant way. The poet laureateship would be separate from a new artist-in-residence program, which would give one deserving local artist annually creating in any medium an opportunity to influence our city’s development and participate in planning and execution of projects across all departments.

I’d also like to involve artists in the many infrastructure projects this city will undertake in the coming years, from bus shelters and lighting to ironwork and landscape architecture. Not only would I like our new infrastructure to be artfully designed, I want artists to liaise with communities where new infrastructure will be constructed. Big infrastructure projects elicit strong opinions, and as community leaders, artists are uniquely able to advocate on behalf of the needs of residents. They’ll help design projects that actually address a need and respect the desires of the surrounding community, and be active representatives before, during, and after the construction process. Our universities are incubators for talented local artists, and as mayor, I’ll work to make sure graduating students are aware that there’s room for artists in Atlanta’s government.

Supporting and expanding our arts community will need to be a collaborative effort between the Mayor’s Office and City Council. Put simply, we can not be a world-class city until we have world-class support for the arts. Our Office of Cultural Affairs will need to expand its scope to look beyond annual festivals and pledge to help artists on a daily basis. I would work with the Council to assure that artist work spaces meet safety regulations, but aren’t burdened by improvement costs and overzealous code enforcement. New York’s freelance law is a promising step toward ensuring artists are able to work with greater stability. Freelancers deserve clear written contracts, to be paid on time and fairly, and to have avenues to seek redress should their client not uphold a commitment. As mayor, I’ll work with our city council and community organizations to understand what’s happening and what’s needed in Atlanta.  New York City has the ability to enact laws covering labor issues (as well as rent control for example) that Atlanta is not able to do without the express permission of the Georgia General Assembly.  But I’m open to finding ways to make doing business in Atlanta easier and to address any issues that we can manage at the local level.

I know firsthand that pursuing a creative calling frequently comes with financial risk. When I was in my twenties I started my own music production company, and I put a chunk of the expenses on credit and prayed for good weather. It was a gamble for me then, but it needn’t be so much of a gamble for Atlanta’s artists today. They’re an asset to our city, and they deserve our support. One form that support will take under my leadership is indeed artist-specific affordable housing. When artists live and work in our neighborhoods, it gives that area a distinctive character. We need to embrace and enhance that. I’ll offer a 100 percent tax credit per-unit to any commercial apartment owner that pledges to run an artist-in-residence program on their property. This would unleash untapped potential for artists to create in our neighborhoods without them having to worry about how they’re going to make rent. I also want to continue and expand Atlanta Public Schools’ work of converting old buildings into studios and residences for artists. This is an excellent way to make use of resources we already have and keep our creative talent within city limits.”


Kwanza Hall

Fahamu Pecou, Miya Bailey, Adam Harell, Gregg Mike, Chilly-O, David Banner, Deana Marto, ABFF Event , Dragon Con, Donald Glover and the cast of “Atlanta”

First we need to identify and build upon our existing assets within the community. The presence of local artists in city planning will be cultivated by engaging all artists and members of the art community to become part of the conversation for Atlanta’s future, as I’ve done in the heart of the city and Old Fourth Ward. Arts and cultural programming, such as events, festivals and performances, interactive classes and workshops, and a variety of other activities provide education about the historical and cultural context of a community and opportunities for participation in community life. I will empower the OCA and Elevate to create programming that initiate conversation about arts and culture and establish a structure of happenings that venture beyond current forms of expression, with plans that ensure that these activities will continue to flourish. This deliberate continuity will help strengthen creative ideas, inspire citizens, and offer hope that opportunities for the creative class exist, but more importantly matter to the city and community.

My three terms on City Council have taught me how to listen and work together to provide the community with the services they need. Listening to each city council member is the first step. It’s important to work with the city council to expand and create more art community hubs, markets, schools, and even festivals that commemorate Atlanta’s creative culture. Furthermore, work together to find ways to expand on the incentives for artists nationwide to make Atlanta their creative home.

As Mayor I will provide incentives for all citizens, especially artists, with housing incentive programs to build community hubs in underserved areas artists. Not only will artists be provided with affordable housing, they’ll be able to build a creative foundation for new communities.


This discussion aligns with Our Future Atlanta’s policy focus on arts and culture.

Funding for this initiative was provided by Our Future Atlanta and the Center for Civic Innovation. For more about Our Future Atlanta, visit: Our Future Atlanta Website 

The Candidates + ATL Artists

I'm a Georgia Voter StickerWe need your help in getting the word out about the importance of art and artists in our city’s future. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Encourage Candidates to Answer the Questionnaire About the Arts. C4 Atlanta has released a short questionnaire to all candidates running for Atlanta City Council, City Council President and Mayor for which we could find contact information. C4 intends to publish any and all answers provided by candidates or their campaigns on our blog. Here are the questions that we’ve asked the candidates:
  • Who do you consider Atlanta’s Cultural leaders?
  • Considering such models as L.A. and Detroit (to name a few) that incorporate artists into planning and city government, what presence do you see for local artists in city government work beyond Contracts for Arts Services through OCA, Elevate, and city commissions?
  • For City Council Candidates: How do you plan to work with fellow council members and the Mayor’s Office to protect the ways artists work in this city? (Some initiatives on our radar: removing barriers to small business development for artists and entrepreneurs; protection of free speech; freelancer benefits similar to NYC)?
  • For Mayoral Candidates: How do you plan to work with city council to protect the ways artists work in this city? (Some initiatives on our radar: removing barriers to small business development for artists and entrepreneurs; protection of free speech; freelancer benefits similar to NYC)?
  • How do you plan to include individual artists/freelancers in policies and programs to provide affordable housing and workspace?

Help us get the word out to your candidates! You can help us encourage the candidates that you care about to answer by tagging them in our social media posts. Let them know that you care about these issues and the future of artists in Atlanta. Tag our posts on C4 Atlanta’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Our Executive Director Jessyca Holland recently wrote a great blog post about the importance of artists votes in the upcoming election. You can read it here.

2) Attend Fireside Chat: Election Edition – and bring a friend! Join us for our upcoming Fireside Chat: Election Edition on November 2 at 6:00pm. Fun and joy promised, and information assured! C4 believes that the voting process can be BOTH fun and informational. We’ll be convening artists to discuss the questions and answers provided by candidates to our questionnaire, along with what you believe to be the biggest issues in the upcoming elections for artists. In addition, we promise snacks, button making, a little last minute info about where and how to vote, and maybe even an extra surprise or two thrown in just for grins. Artists Jessica Caldas and Haylee Anne will be joining to talk about their exhibition and project Goldsmack at Eyedrum related to this election. This is a chance for our community to convene one last time before we head to the polls to decide the future of Atlanta Arts and Culture workers. RSVP for the event here. You can share this event with your friends on Facebook here.

 

Fireside Chat: Election Edition

Date/Time: November 2, 2017 – 6:00pm-9:00pm RSVP Now

Location: Fuse Arts Center, inside the M. Rich Center for Creative Arts, Media and Technology, 115 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30303 Click Here for Directions to Fuse

Cost: Free, but you must RSVP. RSVP Online Here

For questions or more information, please contact actionteam@c4atlanta.org.

C4 Atlanta is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and does not endorse or recommend any candidate for any position. The purpose of these events is to share information within the arts community so that artists in Atlanta can make informed choices at the polls based on their personal values and beliefs.

C4 Atlanta is proud recipient of a grant through Our Future Atlanta to fund this project. The purpose of our grant proposal is to encourage discussion and voting by Atlanta artists about the November local elections. Our grant aligns with Our Future Atlanta’s focus area on Arts and Cultural Diversity. To learn more about Our Future Atlanta, visit: ourfutureatlanta.org 

 

From Artists to the Candidates (Part One)

Last month, C4 Advocacy Committee members from C4 Atlanta crafted some questions for candidates for Mayor and City Council. Our committee is comprised of C4 board members, staff, artists and arts administrators–mostly people who work on ground everyday in the arts.

Atlanta Skyline

Much of the dialogue that occurs in the city around the arts focuses on arts organizations and institutions. We know that the arts contributes over half a billion dollars to the local economy. And yet art makers in Atlanta are struggling to avoid displacement, support families, and find job security. This is NOT a divergent conversation from the broader scope of local support for arts & culture–It is more of a “yes, and…” conversation.

I was very pleased with the organization of the Mayoral Forum on the Arts. Several candidates presented some plausible ideas for supporting arts & cultural organizations + artists. Both are essential to retaining our creative workforce in Atlanta.

The questions below were crafted to drill down a little deeper about policies that would affect people–people who work in the arts. I want to note that C4 Atlanta is an arts service organization–think of our role in advocacy as similar in approach to a trade coalition. We see how what benefits ALL Atlantans will also benefit ALL artists. However, we have a mission to support arts workers (seriously, that is pretty much our mission statement on file with the IRS). We also understand that there are unique challenges artists face in regards to live-work space, transportation, affordable housing, and so forth. For example: artists are typically freelancers and paid under the 1099 structure. Many of the affordable housing initiatives in our city are based on working wage (hourly or salaried, w-2, employment). From a structural standpoint, the 1099 can be a barrier to affordable housing programs because of how traditional underwriting works. We hope that by changing the dialogue around how we view the workforce for artists, we are also addressing issues in other sectors: technology, design, consultants, insurance, appraisers, and the list goes on.

For a good part of my life, my father was self-employed. I know a little about what he went through to support a family of seven. The system is not always stacked in your favor as a self-employed worker–I digress only to say that I really have a place in my heart for artists, sole proprietors, entrepreneurs, and people doing the hustle everyday to make ends meet. It is more than just talk for me.

We sent an email to every candidate for mayor and city council for whom we could find information. We asked that they address these questions about arts workers, specifically. At the end of the day, artists vote, not institutions. There are thousands of artists in Atlanta. When Mayor Kasim Reed was first elected, he won that election by less than 800 votes. Arts Professionals: We have a voting bloc! If you think about it, 800 votes is probably equivalent to you and your closest friends’ network of colleagues. Art votes count!

We will be sending an invitation soon to invite you to a gathering right before the election to review the answers provided by candidates. More on that event in the next blog… For now, here are the questions we sent:

  • Who do you consider Atlanta’s Cultural leaders?

  • Considering such models as L.A. and Detroit (to name a few) that incorporate artists into planning and city government, what presence do you see for local artists in city government work beyond Contracts for Arts Services through OCA, Elevate, and city commissions?

  • How do you plan to work with *city council to protect the ways artists work in this city? (Some initiatives on our radar: removing barriers to small business development for artists and entrepreneurs; protection of free speech; freelancer benefits similar to NYC)?

  • How do you plan to include individual artists/freelancers in policies and programs to provide affordable housing and workspace?

*This question was modified for city council candidates, “work with the Mayor’s Office…”

 P.S. We have had some replies already. We really look forward to engaging our candidates as they share their vision for the future of Atlanta!