Category: Advocacy

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!

Artists join to #ActivateATL

C4 Atlanta is excited to announce musical acts and speakers for its #ActivateATL concert on August 5, 2017 at the Masquerade. Musical guests include co-headliners Chantae Cann and Little Tybee. Nse Ufot of the New Georgia Project and Rep. David Dreyer will be featured speakers for the evening. This event is free, all ages and open to the public.

Nse Ufot, Executive Director of the New Georgia Project, is one of two featured speakers for #ActivateATL.
Nse Ufot, Executive Director of the New Georgia Project, is one of two featured speakers for #ActivateATL.

#ActivateATL is a concert celebration of the power to change communities through voting in the upcoming November Atlanta Mayoral and City Council Elections. In particular, this free, non-partisan concert hopes to uplift the voices of voters and showcase the unique contributions of arts workers in their communities. Information about voting in upcoming elections and job duties for open seats will be distributed to attendees. A pledge to vote or support their current community is all that is needed for entry. The event is sponsored by the Masquerade, Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, The Iron Yard, ArtsATL, Binders Art Supplies and Frames, and visual artist Stephanie Lloyd. Community Partners include Signs of Solidarity, Center for Civic Innovation, Georgia Artists for Progress and the United Arts Front.

Featured Speaker David Dreyer is the State Representative for District 59.

Through this concert, C4 Atlanta hopes to encourage voters to exercise their power to influence the future of the city in whatever way aligns with their personal values. In particular, C4 also wishes to recognize the efforts of the creative class to effect change in community through their voting power, organizing and artistic work.

Nse Ufot is Executive Director of the New Georgia Project and a passionate advocate for voter rights. A naturalized citizen originally born in Nigeria, Ms. Ufot grew up in Southwest Atlanta. She has witnessed the changes and fluctuations of the city and it population since her childhood. A lifelong advocate of civil, human and workers’ rights, she leads the New Georgia Project in its mission to engage and register Georgia’s eligible but unregistered African American, Latinx, and Asian American populations.

David Dreyer was elected State Representative for House District 59 in 2016. A graduate of Georgia State and Emory Universities, David is a long-time Atlanta resident. As a policymaker, David has been a vocal supporter of voter rights and voter protections.

Psychadelic folk favorites Little Tybee will join us for #ActivateATL after their recent U.S. tour.

Local favorites Little Tybee join #ActivateATL after their recent, successful U.S. tour. Known for their melodious, genre bending sounds, their music reflects the stellar musicianship of this eclectic six-piece ensemble.  Their fourth, self-titled album was released in 2016 and they have shared stages around the world with artists such as Macy Gray, Of Montreal, Kurt Vile, Reptar, Sondre Lerche, Man Man, Kishi Bashi, and others.

Musical guest singer-songwriter Chantae Cann is known for blending the exploratory sounds of Jazz with the feel good vibes of Soul.
Musical guest singer-songwriter Chantae Cann is known for blending the exploratory sounds of Jazz with the feel good vibes of Soul.

Joining Little Tybee as co-headliner is singer-songwriter Chantae Cann. Blending the musical boundaries between jazz and soul, Cann released her solo debut album “Journey to Golden” in March 2016 after a 10+ year career as a backing vocalist and collaborator for artists such as India.Arie, Snarky Puppy, P.J. Morgan, Gramps Morton, and many others. Her highly anticipated sophomore album is due out in Fall of 2017. Both acts have a history of past support of social causes.

Doors open at 7pm on August 5, 2017, and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets are free, with an online pledge to vote or support your community. For more concert information and tickets, visit: c4atlanta.org/activate-atl

#ActivateATL
August 5, 2017
Doors at 7:00pm; Show Starts at 8:00pm
Masquerade (Hell), 50 Lower Alabama St. SE, Atlanta, GA 30308
Featuring Little Tybee and Chantae Cann.
Tickets: c4atlanta.org/activate-atl/tickets
All Ages
Free

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 more. 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.

About Nse Ufot:

Nse Ufot has dedicated her life and career working on various civil, human, and workers’ rights issues. As the Executive Director of the New Georgia Project, she is proud to lead the organization to its goal of strengthening the state’s democracy by registering and engaging Georgia’s eligible, but unregistered African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans.

Prior to joining the New Georgia Project, Ms. Ufot worked as the Assistant Executive Director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canada’s largest faculty union. She also served as the Senior Lobbyist and Government Relations Officer for the American Association of University Professors. In this role, she coordinated initiatives for mobilizing members around legislation and regulations that impacted higher education and labor law.

Ms. Ufot, a proud naturalized citizen, was born in Nigeria and raised in Southwest Atlanta. She earned a Bachelor of Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Dayton School of Law. Ms. Ufot is fluent in both French and English. In her free time, she enjoys international travel, listening and playing music from the African Diaspora, and hosting house parties for close friends and family. For more information about Nse Ufot or New Georgia Project, please visit newgeorgiaproject.org.

About David Dreyer:

David was elected as State Representative for House District 59 in 2016. David was born in Ringgold, Georgia, but David’s family moved to Roswell where David started middle school. David graduated from Georgia State where he was involved in various student groups, including founding the Young Democrats and working with an environmental and homeless advocacy group. David received the student leadership award from his graduating class. After attending Georgia State, David graduated from Emory Law, where he remained committed to public service, serving as student body president and working on several campaigns. 

One focus of David’s studies was constitutional law and voter protection, areas that remain in the forefront of his career. David was admitted to the State Bar in 2004, and David is an attorney with Penn Law Group, representing individuals and companies in courts throughout Georgia. David married Melissa in 2006, and they have two boys, Henry and Leo. David and his family place a strong value on community service and enjoy volunteering and helping neighbors. 

David serves on the Higher Education, Science and Technology and Civil Judiciary Committees. for more information about David Dreyer, visit dreyerforgeorgia.com

About Little Tybee:

Little Tybee is a 6 piece band based in Atlanta, GA whose music has been described as genre bending and refreshing to both veteran and exploring ears. The core of each of their songs begins in the relentless and creative mind of vocalist/guitarist/pianist Brock Scott. The songs mature through the dedicated musicianship of 8-string guitarist Josh Martin, violinist Nirvana Kelly, bassist Ryan Donald, keyboardist Chris Case and percussionist Dallas Dawson. Little Tybee isn’t afraid to experiment freely, even dangerously at times, to follow a musical idea to its ultimate end. This mentality has led the group to explore music that transcends genre and packs a much bigger punch than their modest title implies. Over the past few years they have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Of Montreal, Kurt Vile, Here We Go Magic, Rising Appalachia, Macy Gray, Reptar, Sondre Lerche, Nicole Atkins, Man Man, Kishi Bashi, and a number of others. For more information about Little Tybee, visit littletybee.com

About Chantae Cann:

Chantae Cann is next premier vocalist on the rise with her debut album “Journey to Golden” that released March 2016 at #1 on the iTunes Jazz Charts and #7 on the Jazz Billboard Charts.

Her vocal delivery is soothing, sultry and more than just soulful, it’s soul fulfilling. Whether you find yourself listening to her live at a show or turning her up in your headphones, chances are you will have peace in your mind and a smile on your face. Chantae’s music blends the exploratory sounds of Jazz with the feel good vibes of Soul, which makes for a mixture that is quite delicious. It is her heart’s desire to simply inspire, uplift and encourage the lives of others through music.

Chantae is not a novice to the music world. She has been blessed to travel the world as a background vocalist (10+ years) with P.J. Morton, Gramps Morgan, and most notably India Arie. She’s had the tremendous honor of collaborating with artists/bands such as, Snarky Puppy, Jarrod Lawson, Jonathan McReynolds, Tony Momrelle, Jaspects, The Foreign Exchange, Zo!, Mike Hicks, Sho Baraka and Khari Cabral Simmons.

Chantae’s second album is set to release fall of 2017. For more information about Chantae Cann, visit: chantaecann.com

Sign The Letter to Mayor Reed

Sign this letter asking to Mayor Reed to adopt an equitable funding distribution model for his fractional tax for the arts!

On Monday, C4 Atlanta, along with several other Atlanta arts organizations and artists, sent a letter to Mayor Kasim Reed to ask him to support our model for distribution of funds under his proposed sales tax for the arts initiative. Other supporters of this initiative include: Flux Projects, Hammonds House Museum, glo, Living Walls, MODA, Poem 88, Art Papers, Dashboard US, Moving in the Spirit, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, Soul Food Cypher, and others.This initiative would provide a dedicated stream of funding for arts and culture organizations in the city through a .1% sales tax. The full version of our proposed funding distribution model is available in PDF format here:

PDF COPY OF FULL FUNDING DISTRIBUTION MODEL

Our Funding Distribution Model:

The model proposed by this group includes funding for individual artists and is meant to incentivize growth of small and mid-sized arts and cultural organizations, while also providing financial assistance to larger institutions, too. Funding for individual artists would also be available in this model, as well as for non-arts organizations who would like to create cross-sector arts collaborations that would benefit the community. By nature of their mission, smaller organizations are often those providing the largest share of resources to underserved communities and communities of color. We also understand and appreciate the place of large institutions in our arts ecosystem as well. It is important for a robust arts community to have thriving organizations at all levels in order to support the career growth of arts workers and to provide the greatest array of services to the most people, regardless of race, location, gender identity or socio-economic status. Because of this, we believe this model will continue to cultivate Atlanta’s rich cultural capital and promote even more diversity within our community.

What you can do:

From these links you can:

— View the Letter and Proposal
— Add your name to the letter here, and a notice will be sent to Mayor Reed
— And view the Article on ArtsATL that was published today
What else you can do:
— Share this with others!
— Help us spread through social media. See the C4 Atlanta Facebook Page for posts you can share.
— Reach out to non-arts community organizations to sign as well.  This model supports cross-sector collaborations.

Below is a copy of our letter to Mayor Reed introducing our proposed model and the reasons for asking him to adopt it in the pending legislation to introduce this tax initiative. Names of supporters are added automatically as they sign. If you would like to sign on to this letter encouraging the Mayor to adopt our funding model click here:

SIGN THE LETTER

Democracy Requires Effort

Several years ago, I attended a Fulton County Budget hearing. There is nothing remarkable about that statement. My staff, board members, colleagues and I have attended dozens. We attend to show support for the funding of Contracts for Art Services. But at one particular meeting, I believe a major cut was on the table so many from the arts community were in attendance, a board member and artist named LaMar Barber took a photo of me speaking to the county commissioners. He posted it on Facebook. I commented on the photo, “Democracy!” LaMar replied, “…requires effort!”

At the Fulton County Budget Hearings in 2013.
At the Fulton County Budget Hearings in 2013.

Democracy requires effort.

That phrase rings in my brain a lot these days. You may be thinking it is because of the recent election. Maybe. It really has more to do with the fact that C4 is making a more concerted effort to be involved “at the local.” Let me preface the rest of this post with this: I am not trying to be self-congratulatory. This work is hard, and there are people I know who are much better at doing it. By “type of work,” I mean, showing up. Being there for the committee meetings, the neighborhood meetings, the council or commissioner meetings. How do they have the energy? How do they have the resources?

In the arts, we often complain about not being invited to the table. I agree with that. However, I also know that you sometimes have to pull up a chair. But when is this work off mission? My answer is that I don’t think that when you work in the Independent Sector that it is ever off mission. Our work intersects often with civic issues. We do ensure that we are staying within the bounds of non-partisan participation, which is within our legal right. Having said that, advocacy, or even just civic engagement, may take focus away from programming. How do you balance that? (I am really asking here)

In some ways, it is part of the growing pains of an organization maturing. In the start-up phase, job duties are fuzzy and resources, including time, are pooled toward creating programs. That quickly moves to maintaining and evaluating programs (maybe even sun-setting programs). As Executive Director, I am working hard to place staff members into roles that best fit their strengths. Roles become more defined. All this to say, being an advocate for the arts is not glamorous. There are no Twitter wars or celebrity endorsements.

I sat through a three hour meeting at City Hall just so I could speak for a minute to voice my concern about the proposed “Arts & Entertainment District.” (Not against a district, just concerned about what constitutes “arts” and how money will be allocated). Many of the meeting points were completely unrelated to our work at C4. I was hungry. Famished. This isn’t heroic work. I was mostly thinking about what I needed to do when I got back to the office, and how I wished the meeting time would fly by faster. This morning I missed another city meeting because my van started acting weird. Instead of driving to the 8 am meeting, I drove to my local mechanic. I texted Audrey, Education Manager, and she went to the meeting in my stead. The meeting went on without me.

Democracy requires effort

It is also slow. When it comes to government, I often think of that aphorism, “a camel is a horse designed by committee.” The process is intentionally slow. Our founding fathers designed our government process with a plodding pace in mind to protect citizens from wide sweeping change that came too swiftly. Campaign promises are mostly rhetoric. You have to vet ideas to ensure the process is in the best interest of the people–and often, unfortunately, it is only in the best interest of part of the people. The people who have the time or capacity to show up.

It is not that I believe that all campaign promises are empty. It is just that the heroes I see are the people who show up when they can, they research the issues, they present facts, they appeal to people’s common sense and humanity, they sit through the long meetings, miss lunch, they juggle relationships and maybe children, and they do it over and over again. People like Kyle Kessler with the Center for Civic Innovation. Kyle has an amazing knack for this work. He about local politics, zoning issues, Atlanta history, meeting dates–someone needs to download Kyle’s brain. I am always in awe of how much he knows and how often he shows up.

image of greek senate
Old School Democracy

Leveraging Strengths

Over the last year, C4 has grown its advocacy committee so we can divide up meetings and tasks. Most of what we are doing is just listening. Listening and learning. There are a myriad of policies that affect the lives of artists and of arts organizations. Typically, advocacy efforts have been focused around funding. While important, there are a lot of missed opportunities when that is our only focus. There are several organizations that educate and advocate for the arts in metro Atlanta. There are also dozens of organizations that may make great cross-sector partners. Our advocacy platform is posted online. If you want to get involved, let us know.

Democracy, or even a republic, takes effort. It feels as though the nation is in turmoil some days. I am not going to suggest to anyone that national issues are not important–they certainly are important. This is a “yes, and…” moment. They are important but so are local policies, legislation, ordinances, etc. Let’s work together. Let our efforts be amplified through unity.

 

Advocating for Art(ists) at Little Five Arts Alive

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.

In support of this goal, C4 Atlanta recently participated in Little Five Arts Alive‘s Arts Activism Weekend. Little Five Arts Alive is a project of Horizon Theatre and the Little 5 Points Community Improvement District, funded by a grant from ArtPlace America. This weekend featured artists both artists and arts organizations engaging in activism and advocacy activities.

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:

Artist Latanya Hardaway paints the faces of a few young arts enthusiasts.
Artist Latanya Hardaway paints the faces of a few young arts enthusiasts.

 

Actor Nick Suwalski educates passersby on the need for increased state funding for the arts.
Actor Nick Suwalski educates passersby on the need for increased state funding for the arts.

 

A community member adds his thoughts about the arts ecology of Georgia.
A community member adds his thoughts about the arts ecology of Georgia.
Our Arts Advocacy Table was full of information about policies and legislation that affect the arts and artists.
Our Arts Advocacy Table was full of information about policies and legislation that affect the arts and artists.
Artist Volunteer Chi Ife Okwumabua greets those registering to vote with a friendly face.
Artist Volunteer Chi Ife Okwumabua is ready to help register new voters in Findley Plaza.

 

Our volunteers did an awesome job of engaging those passing through Findley Plaza and getting them to sign the petition to increase state arts funding in Georgia.
Our volunteers did an awesome job of engaging those passing through Findley Plaza and getting them to sign the petition to increase state arts funding in Georgia.

Art as an Ally for Social Justice

Photo by Fibonacci Blue of Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Photo by Fibonacci Blue of Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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.

Katina Parker presenting to the Hatch, artist cohort
Katina Parker presenting during the Hatch program pilot to artists and C4 Atlanta staff.

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”.

Project Row Houses, a community based art and social impact project in Houston, TX. Photo taken while on a recent visit.
Project Row Houses, a community based art and social impact project in Houston, TX by artist Rob Lowe. Photo taken while on a recent visit.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Work to identify and eradicate the ways that you personally perpetuate White Culture Supremacy.
  3. 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.

When to Work for Free?

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.

Fundraisers

There is a lot of discussion in the Atlanta art community right now around art auctions/art fundraisers

Image by Chad Gierlich via flick
Image by Chad Gierlich via flick

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.

Your Budget

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.

Tax Deductions

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.

Project Work

Fry from FuturamaArtists 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.

Internships/Apprenticeships 

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.

Here are a few resources for your consideration:

Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E)

Department of Labor & the Fair Labor Standards Act 

Image by Chad Gierlich via flick