The Artist as Activist: Planning for Impact

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Sonic conceptual artist Abby Dobson. (Courtesy of abbydobsonsings.com)

“It felt like I had been sort of treading water AND going around in circles”

Abby Dobson came to the 2015 Artist Summer Institute with an impressive resume; she had already taken her brilliant songs and sound—a kinetic alchemy of R&B, soul, jazz and classic pop to legendary venues like The Kennedy Center, The Apollo Theatre and The Tonight Show. Still, like many artists at a certain stage in their careers, she worried about stalling.

“I wanted to jumpstart myself creatively and build an infrastructure around what I do. I wanted to give myself a better shot to continue doing music, continue creating and not doing what so many of us do – stop.”

She sat down at the Introduction to Strategic Planning workshop expecting to spend a few hours thinking about her future, but was still surprised by exactly how far ahead the program prompted her to think.

“One of the tasks was to write our own obituaries, and it was a really interesting thing to do. I was challenged, in a new way, to think about what I would want said about myself and what I want to have done before I leave this earth.”

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New Jersey Artists Grow With Our Blended Learning Program

A photo Christy took of her name badge and the PDP materials at the workshop in Trenton, NJ.

A photo Christy took of her name badge and the PDP materials at the workshop in Trenton, NJ.

The Professional Development program has launched a new blog that chronicles New Jersey artists’ growth and process through our Blended Learning Program. Blended Learning is a multi-format course in financial and business management that helps artists establish a secure base upon which to create and grow their work. Thanks to the generous support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program was able to bring Blended Learning to the artists of two communities in New Jersey—in Trenton and Newark. 

We’ve asked them to share their stories throughout their journey—testimonies of what they’ve learned, the questions they still have, the strategies they’re trying out, and the results they’re seeing in their art and in their life. Here’s one of our entries from artist Christy O’Connor, who took part in the Blended Learning workshop in Trenton on April 3, 2016.

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Strengthen Your Career with Our Brand New NYC Workshop Series

Partipants at Artists Summer Institute in a Breakout Group During a Workshop

Partipants at Artists Summer Institute in a Breakout Group During a Workshop

Creative Capital is excited to announce a brand new six-part workshop series covering essential topics to develop your art career sustainably.

Our experienced workshop leaders, most of whom are practicing artists themselves, share the tools, strategies and resources that have led them to long-term success. The series is structured so that each workshop builds upon the previous, and is open to artists of all disciplines who are ready to take their career to the next level. The classes will take place every other Monday evening from February 8 to April 18 in Creative Capital’s NYC office space.

  1. February 8: Strategic Planning, with Colleen Keegan
    Learn the key tools of strategic planning and how to create a business plan to increase satisfaction in your life and career.
  2. February 22: Funding Your Work, with Aaron Landsman
    Learn how to calculate what your time is really worth, plus guidance on grant and proposal writing, fundraising from individuals, and varying your revenue streams.
  3. March 7: Financial Literacy, with Amy Smith
    Takeaways include tips and tools for tracking deductible expenses, getting out of debt so you can start saving, segregating your personal and artistic finances, budgeting for your life and your artistic projects. You will also learn how to tell “the story” of your project in a compelling way to funders.
  4. March 21: Verbal Communications, with Ela Troyano
    Improve your interpersonal communications, negotiations and public speaking skills so that you can more comfortably and successfully pitch your work and ask for financial support from presenting venues and funders.
  5. April 4: Promoting Your Work, with Jackie Battenfield
    Learn how to build a promotional campaign that expresses the quality and character of your work, as well as essential skills to jump start your promotional efforts.
  6. April 18: Web Best Practices and Review, with Matthew Deleget
    Learn how online resources can be used to expand your audience size and stay connected to your community. This workshop includes “best practices” for optimizing your website, streamlining email communications, and increasing social media presence.

In addition to the six workshops, participants will receive:
Our Strategic Planning workbook, our Artists’ Tools Handbook, one free webinar to dive deeper into the specific topics and skills most important to you, and an optional follow-up session at Creative Capital allowing participants to check in with a workshop leader about their progress and challenges.
Cost: $250 for the entire series.

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Photo Gallery: Strategic Planning & Funding Your Work in Chicago

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Choreographer and workshop leader Andrew Simonet leads the group in a session on Funding Your Work.

“[The workshop] was some of the most beneficial hours I’ve spent on my art practice in a long time! I feel like this is the beginning of something expansive.”
—Ahavani Mullen, Workshop Participant,
3Arts Strategic Planning & Funding Your Work, 2015

On March 28th, 34 Chicago artists got direct access to Creative Capital Professional Development Program workshop leaders Colleen Keegan, Beverly McIver and Andrew Simonet during a one-day workshop, generously underwritten by Tequila Herradura and hosted by 3Arts. The workshop focused on two primary areas—Strategic Planning and Funding Your Work—as well as addressing a number of micro-topics within each area, including: creating a business plan, valuing your time, revenue streams, time management, grants & fundraising, and communications.

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Snapshot: Professional Development Workshops in Cary & Atlanta

Andrew Simonet

Andrew Simonet (center, in blue) leads a group of artists in PDP’s Cary, NC workshop.

The Creative Capital workshop has helped me to see the work I do in a different light: it is valuable, marketable and not something I should apologize for. My personal art practice should not come second to the work I do to make a living—permission to prioritize!
Cara Hagan, Participant, Core Skills Weekend Workshop, Cary, NC

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Photo Gallery: Creative Capital Hosts Strategic Planning Workshop for 33 NYC Artists

Colleen Keegan at Creative Capital Workshop

Workshop leader Colleen Keegan welcomes artist participants with an introduction to Strategic Planning.

“It’s not about working harder, it’s about working differently.”
-Workshop Leader Colleen Keegan, Strategic Planning Workshop

“Oh to have more of this. It has made me deliciously happy!”
-Rebecca Darlington, Artist Participant, Strategic Planning Workshop

On Tuesday, December 2nd, 33 artist participants gathered at Creative Capital in New York City’s Financial District for an evening of Strategic Planning. Led by Colleen Keegan and Ela Troyano, this Professional Development Program (PDP) workshop lays the foundation for creating a strategic plan: including (but not limited to) time management, budgeting and networking. Over the course of three hours, artist participants focused on the early stages of their plans, with a directive to form small teams in order to hold each other accountable for their progress moving forward. Continue reading

Artists Summer Institute 2014: A Look Back with Documentary Filmmaker Melissa Hacker

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Filmmaker Melissa Hacker at the 2014 Artists Summer Institute in New York.

I don’t win lotteries very often. I did, years ago, win a lovely mixing bowl at the local supermarket, but that did not change my life in a meaningful way. The lottery I won this summer just might.

I was selected to participate in the August 2014 Artists Summer Institute (ASI), co-presented by Creative Capital and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Five days, 55 artists, in an air-conditioned office building in lower Manhattan.

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