Holly Ajala

About Holly Ajala

Holly Ajala is a writer and storyteller with a fierce belief in the power of effective narrative to inspire empathy in the face of difference, to propel the reach of social justice and above all to challenge humans beings to be more human. To these ends, Holly has worked with the NYU Leadership Initiative, the ACLU Racial Justice Project , and the NYC Collaborative Writing Project to amplify the reach of marginalized voices, narratives, stories and communities. Holly currently writes for AYO Magazine, an online publication dedicated to honest and multifaceted portrayals of black women in search of joy. She is a recent NYU graduate with a B.A. in Politics and Africana Studies. She joined Creative Capital in 2016 and currently resides in Harlem.

Lessons in Sustainability: Five Questions for Sharon Louden

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Sharon Louden teaches at the Chautauqua Institution.

Sharon Louden needs no introduction. A successful artist, editor, author and advocate for artists, Sharon’s transparent and earnest approach to sustaining professional connections has made her four-part webinar, How to Approach and Engage with the Gatekeepers of the Art World, one of Creative Capital Professional Development Program’s most sought-out offerings. Back by popular demand, Sharon will be leading her series starting January 31st.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Sharon Louden and ask her five questions about how she manages to sustain her own practice, and what she’s learned along the way. If you want to learn more about how to communicate and build relationships with art world professionals, don’t forget to register for Sharon’s webinar.

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Financial Literacy: A Cheat Sheet for Artists

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Amy Smith and dancers from Headlong Dance Company performed at the 2015 Creative Capital Benefit.

It’s a well-worn cliche, but it’s true: “Knowledge is power,” and nowhere is this more apparent than in our financial lives. Because being deeply invested in money management often feels uncreative, many artists get comfortable with keeping their understanding of their financial health and future as vague as possible, a kind of “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” approach.

On January 25th, performing artist turned finance guru Amy Smith will be empowering artists to raise their level of financial awareness and literacy — regardless of their prior experience. It’s an excellent opportunity for artists to gain critical understanding ahead of tax season, a great primer for our Tax Preparation for Artists workshop coming up in February, and a unique chance for artists to set themselves on the right financial track going into 2017. Below is a sneak peek of many of the great insights Amy will be sharing during the workshop. For more detailed information, be sure to join us at the Creative Capital office on Wednesday January 25th, for “Financial Literacy for Artists.

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Tips and Tools: Advice from a First-Time Grant Winner

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“Assent” by Laine Nixon, Courtesy of Laine Nixon

Abstract painter and Professional Development Program alumna Laine Nixon recently applied for and won her first major arts grant: the John Ringling Towers Fund Individual Artist Award. When she talks about her recent win, Laine stresses the lessons she learned through Creative Capital’s “Grantwriting for Artists” webinar and was kind enough to share the top tips she walked away with that helped push her application over the top.

To experience Tracie Holder’s highly requested webinar for yourself, join Creative Capital on January 18th for “Grantwriting for Artists.

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Telling Our Stories on Our Terms — The Power of Strategic Marketing

The dangerous power of negative marketing, clockwise from top left: Detroit = miserable (photo by Rebecca Cook for Reuters); Occupy Wall Street = directionless (photo by Odell Payne); “A Fire In My Belly” video = sacrilegious; and prospective travelers = potential terrorists (photo by Craig Walker for AP).

The dangerous power of negative marketing, clockwise from top left: Detroit = miserable (photo by Rebecca Cook for Reuters); Occupy Wall Street = directionless (photo by Odell Payne); “A Fire In My Belly” video = sacrilegious; and prospective travelers = potential terrorists (photo by Craig Walker for AP).

As the saying goes, “everyone is trying to sell you something,” and in today’s hyper-connected digital world it couldn’t be more true. Whether it’s algorithmically personalized ads across social media, spam emails or product placement in popular music videos, we are constantly bombarded with branded marketing that is subtly attempting to influence the way we think about our selves, our desires and the people  in our lives.

Given all of this, why should artists want to participate?

On Thursday January 12, join Creative Capital artist leader and marketing expert Brian Tate for Seven Elements of Strategic Marketing, where he will detail how and why artists can and should understand marketing their work in a way that’s strategic and authentic.

According to Brian Tate, there are three main reasons why strategic marketing is essential for artists (now more than ever.)

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2017 Resolution? Make More Art: Upcoming Grant and Residency Opportunities

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Artist-in-residence Jessica Auer at Bare Loon Lake. Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency 2014. Courtesy of Yukon Arts Centre

Start the new year off on an artistic high note by taking time to prioritize your creative practice. We’ve gathered here residency, grant and award opportunities created to give you the time, space and money you need to make more art in 2017.

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What Does Your Time Cost?: Real World Budgeting for Artists

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All artists should have a numerical value that represents the cost of their time that they use as a benchmark to assess how much they should be paid and as a clear signal for when they are selling themselves short. Remember – you are a skilled professional who deserves to be paid well for your work.

On Thursday December 15, choreographer Andrew Simonet will be leading “Real World Budgeting,” a comprehensive, artist-led webinar that focuses on the practical skills and knowledge artists need to change their relationship with their finances.

First on the agenda – knowing how much your time is worth.

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Time to Create: Upcoming Grant and Residency Opportunities

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ANIMA by Studio Nick Verstand. Photo by Nick Verstand. Courtesy of SXSW.com.

Uninterrupted time for art making is precious and too often elusive. A residency can reinvigorate an idling practice or provide essential time to finish a big project. The list below has something for artists of all disciplines with opportunities in international metropolises and remote villages.

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Internet for Artists: Best Practices for Effective Emails

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This is an excerpt from our Internet for Artists (IFA) Handbook. The IFA handbook is a collaborative online resource given to participants of Creative Capital’s Internet for Artists workshops. On January 23, from 7:00-8:30pm ET, join artist leader Sue Schaffner for our Website, Blog, & Email Essentials webinar where you will learn the full scope of best practices for managing your internet presence as an artist.

Some basic strategies for effective email communications

With the help of email, sending out communications about your projects couldn’t be any easier. Now commonplace and long accepted as a norm within the arts community, email is fast, easy, and cost-effective, but it’s not without its challenges. Getting your reader to open your message and read it is more difficult than you may imagine. Some strategies include:

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Community Engagement Projects: Breaking Down the Target Audience

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Amara Tabor Smith and Ellen Sebastien Chang perform “House/Full,” Photo by: Robbie Sweeny

If changing the world were easy, everyone would be doing it.
The goal of a community engagement campaign is to activate an audience to take action and make change happen — even when its not easy.

On November 10th, join Stephanie Bleyer for Producing and Funding Your Community Engagement Campaign, a 90-minute webinar dedicated to giving you all the tools you need to steer a successful and socially impactful community engagement project.

While it seems as though a social change campaign should have as broad an appeal as possible, it can often be more effective to be strategic about the audience that you are targeting. As Stephanie Bleyer stresses, unless you’re DisneyWorld or Taylor Swift, your message isn’t actually for “everyone.”

Defining your target audience is a critical step to take before attempting to fundraise or promote a project. In narrowing down your target audience it can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

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A Page From Our Handbook: Developing a Promotional Strategy

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Every few weeks we post tips straight from the Professional Development Program’s Artist’s Tools Handbook, a 200+ page resource we give to Core Workshop attendees, written by PDP Core Leaders Jackie Battenfield and Aaron Landsman. The book covers everything from writing to budgeting, websites to fundraising, elevator pitches to work samples. Similarly, each post is packed with practical ideas to make your life run more smoothly, leaving you even more time for your creative practice. Learn more about all of our PDP workshops and webinars here.

 For more strategies on how to build a promotional campaign that expresses the quality and character of your work, be sure to attend our November 7th workshop, Promoting Your Work with Jackie Battenfield.

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