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.”
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.
Ravon Ruffin & Amanda Figueroa are consultants. Together, they’ve created the Brown Girls Museum Blog (or BGMB) which cultivates inclusionary practices for museums through social media, speaking engagements, collaborative partnerships, community advocacy, and content services. What started as a conversation, transformed into a platform that aims to solve the one of the most pressing challenges with the art world.
Hillary: Although you are both young, it seems as though it didn’t take long to transform a problem into an opportunity. Can you describe the development of BGMB and your current roles in its operations?
Ravon: The blog came about through individual interests, and then we discovered that we work well together. We both are determined and unrelenting in our desires for social equity in the humanities field, and bringing our individual skills together has been one of our biggest strengths. From the beginning, we’ve always had a clear vision of what we wanted the blog to look like, and we sort of fell into our roles from there. I’ve always been more of the content management and strategy type, whereas Amanda is apt in the technical and design aspect. Our academic endeavors are quite literally where we intersect.
Amanda: I think both of us have always been “problem solvers” — when we noticed what was going wrong with inclusion in museums, we immediately wanted to help fix it. At first, the best way to do that was just by speaking out, raising our voices and making ourselves be heard online, but as the blog continues, we’ve been given more and more opportunities to work on this issue in different ways. It has been exciting to be able to take our mission, and our work “offline” in live events like talks and workshops, but a digital presence will always be important to us. Right now, we tend to split our roles pretty evenly; Ravon handles a lot of our social media while I do a lot of the back-end design stuff, and we both collaborate on new projects as they come in.
Tax time isn’t fun for most people, but it’s especially hard on artists who have a diverse range of income from freelance jobs, gigs, commissions and part time jobs. That’s why every tax season, our Professional Development Program offers a workshop to help artists with their returns. On March 16, Creative Capital will host a workshop with Sandra Karas, an attorney specializing in Taxes and financial planning (sign up here). To get an idea of what she would be discussing, Sandra was kind enough to take some time out of her seasonably packed schedule to answer some questions!
Alex Teplitzky: Preparing taxes is especially difficult for artists. Can you give us 3 quick tips artists need to know before preparing their returns?
Sandra Karas: Organize! Organize! Organize! Those are the best 3 tips for any artistic professional, especially those who are self-employed or are independent contractors. If you don’t organize your records, who will? And if you don’t, you’ll lose valuable deductions on your individual and business tax returns.
Keep careful records of your expenditures and the receipts that prove that you spent the money. Conduct yourself as a consummate business professional, so that your website, promotional efforts, business bank account and other indications of your standing in the community are unimpeachable.
From Jim Findlay’s Botanica, 2012. Photo by Joshua Higgason
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 building a strong foundation for your business as an artist, check out Art Business Management on February 18.
Turning in a budget with no artist fee can lead a reader to think you are not accounting for your own time. A benefit to adding an artist fee to your budget is that you can track the investment you make in your work; this can lead to better pricing strategies, a revised timeline for projects and better long-term financial stability. Continue reading →
Andrew Simonet during a rehearsal for Headlong Dance Theater’s “Desire” at The Performance Garage. Photo: Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.net
There are a great deal of misconceptions about artists and money in our society. Regrettably, too many artists have internalized the stereotype of the starving artist or the idea that their competence with numbers is lacking. Choreographer Andrew Simonet dispels several myths about the finances of artists in the webinar, Real Life Budgeting.
MYTH: Artists are bad with money.
FACT: Ask an artist about the jobs they’ve done, unimaginable amount of hours they’ve worked and the paychecks they’ve stretched to make sure their art could be made. Most artists are incredibly adept at managing their revenue, they just don’t have enough of it.
Earlier this month, I was in Minneapolis / St. Paul for Hand-in-Glove 2015, a national convening for the field of alternative art spaces, artist-led projects and artists’ organizations. My session, entitled “Art Works?,” questioned when and how artists should be compensated for their work. Each of the panelists—session host Alison Gerber (artist/sociologist), Wing Young Huie (artist), Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E.) and myself—began the session with a positioning statement about this question. My statement follows, and a video of the full session is available above. Artists and art workers, let us know what you think about this question by leaving comments below.
As part of my work for Creative Capital and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, I oversee both award programs, each of which provides funding and services for artists in a variety of disciplines. I am also considering this question from my perspective after 25 years of working in the cultural arena, including the curatorial departments of various museums, the ten years that I worked as a freelance theater, TV and film designer and producer and the four and a half years I owned my own gallery. Continue reading →
Launching Successful Community Engagement Campaigns has define the Career of Creative Capital Grantees the Yes Men
Powerful, disruptive ideas beg to be spread. Successful community engagement depends on setting clear objectives, finding your audience, and activating them. Stephanie Bleyer is a master of the community engagement campaign who runs the firm Six Foot Chipmunk. Stephanie helps artists across disciplines create strategic plans, raise funds, and reach and mobilize new audiences. On Thursday June 9th, 2016, she will lead the webinar Producing & Funding Your Community Engagement Campaign. This webinar is essential for artists projects involving social justice, education, public art, or community building. It takes participants through the entire process of producing your campaign starting with letters of inquiry and grant applications all the way through to measuring impact. Artists can ask themselves these five questions as a foundation for your engagement strategy.
1) What are the social goals of my campaign? Keep in mind that the social goals of your campaign will likely be different from the goals of your art work or overall practice. Think, “I want my audience to think about how many plastic bags they regularly take from grocery stores and ultimately reduce that amount,” instead of, “I want my project to receive awards and praise from environmental foundations and get written up in ArtForum.” Continue reading →
Individuals donate the vast majority of funds to nonprofit organizations in America, whether it’s regular folks writing a personal check, making a monthly donation via a website, offering free services or supplies, or buying a ticket to a benefit party. Successful fundraisers devote significant time to soliciting such support; they conduct campaigns, produce special events and engage the community.
Whether you’re an individual artist going it alone or you work with a theater company or other artist collective, fundraising from individuals is increasingly important. We know it can be difficult to get started; we want to help you ask yourself the right questions so you can approach donors from the strongest position and feel secure in what you’re offering to contributors. If you’re raising funds for a socially or community engaged project, we encourage you to dig deeper with Stephanie Bleyer’s June 9th webinar, “Producing and Funding Your Community Engagement Campaign.” Read more about Stephanie here.
Getting Ready: Key Questions As you begin thinking about your campaign, you’ll want to begin researching potential donors and strategies; deciding what donors will get when they give; and preparing to do follow-up, give thanks and keep track of donations long-term. You’ll also want to ask yourself the following questions before you ever ask anyone for anything. You don’t have to answer each one, but read through them all. They are interrelated, and together they should help you develop a strategy that plays to your strengths as a person and as an artist. Continue reading →
Creating a budget for your next project (or your next year) can be tricky, especially when you plan on providing that information to a funder, in the hopes of securing a grant. How much is too much? How do you plan for the unexpected? And just where do you fit into the picture? Below is a helpful guide for budgeting, that you can use as a template. Are you a writer who wants to learn more about how budgeting plays into requests for funding? Register for editor Ethan Nosowsky’s upcoming webinar, “Applying for Grants & Residencies: Strategies for Writers”. And check out other helpful online learning opportunities (including Real Life Budgeting Webinar) on our calendar!