Video: Ruby Lerner, “Policy, Prisons and Pranks: Artists Collide with the World”

In October, Creative Capital’s President & Founding Director Ruby Lerner was invited to speak at the ArtsFwd National Innovation Summit for Arts & Culture as a “provocateur.” In her talk, “Policy, Prisons and Pranks: Artists Collide with the World,” Ruby discussed artists working at the intersections of science, technology, community organizing, entrepreneurship and the media. She highlighted trends and lessons learned from these hybrid artists, noting how the field can and should adapt to support this critical work.

Videos: Ruby Lerner and Sam Van Aken present at IdeaFestival 2012


Ruby Lerner at IdeaFestival 2012, Louisville, KY


Sam Van Aken at IdeaFestival 2012, Louisville, KY

We’re gearing up for the 2013 IdeaFestival (September 24-27), where Creative Capital’s President & Founding Director, Ruby Lerner, will again present with a group of four amazing artists. We’ll share a preview of their work here soon! In the meantime, enjoy these videos of Ruby and artist Sam Van Aken (2009 Emerging Fields) presenting at the 2012 IdeaFestival.

MAP@TCG

TCG Conference 2013 logo
The 2013 TCG Conference was held in Dallas, TX, June 6-8.

If I had to summarize the 2013 TCG conference, I would describe it as the collective expression of a desire to move from “yes or no” thinking to “yes and no” thought/action. From formal lectures to side conversations waiting in line at the food trucks, participants demonstrated a profound desire to move beyond binary thinking and competitive isolationism in a more collaborative effort to improve the overall health of the American Theater.

Formatted after an academic model, participants self-selected one of four “majors” (Financial Adaptation, Diversity and Inclusion, Artistic Innovation and Audience Engagement). Because of MAP’s funding priorities, I chose the Artistic Innovation arc with a minor in Diversity and Inclusion.  Continue reading

Creative Capital and IdeaFestival: How We Fell in Love with Louisville


Ruby Lerner presenting at IdeaFestival 2010

On Friday, our Executive Director Ruby Lerner presents “Creative Capital: Art on the Edge” with grantees Liz Cohen, Hasan Elahi, Tahir Hemphill and Sam Van Aken at IdeaFestival in Louisville, KY (September 21, 10:30am, Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts). This is our third year presenting on Creative Capital at this convening of global thinkers and innovators, and we’re so excited to be returning with a truly remarkable group of artists. Liz Cohen (2005 Visual Arts) is a photographer and performance artist who is best known for her project Bodywork, in which she transformed an East German Trabant automobile into a Chevy El Camino. Hasan Elahi (2006 Emerging Fields) is an interdisciplinary artist who began the self-surveillance project Tracking Transience in response to being mistakenly listed on the FBI’s terrorist watch list. He presented on Tracking Transience last year at TED Global. Tahir Hemphill (2012 Visual Arts) is a multimedia artist who created The Hip-Hop Word Count, a visualization series of data abstracted from a searchable database of lyrics from over 40,000 Hip Hop songs. Sam Van Aken (2009 Emerging Fields) is an installation and new media artist whose work has most recently taken the form of grafted trees that will bear over 40 different varieties of fruit on a single tree. What a group!

I spoke with Ruby and Alice Gray Stites—Director of artwithoutwalls, Chief Curator and Director of Art Programming at Louisville’s 21c Museum and long-time friend of Creative Capital—about IdeaFestival and Creative Capital’s strong ties with Louisville.  Continue reading

More Than Money Can Buy: What Do Artists Need to Succeed? (Part One)


Ruby Lerner and Sean Elwood in stakeholder meeting with grantee Cory Arcangel (2006 Emerging Fields)

You may think of Creative Capital as an organization that gives grants to artists, but that’s only one part of the picture. We do award grants for artists’ projects, and we are thrilled to be able to provide artists with financial support! On the other hand, money alone doesn’t guarantee success. We’ve learned the importance of services and resources for artists, such as professional advice, contacts, networking and coaching.

Creative Capital’s approach pairs funding with advisory services and other non-monetary support for our grantees, including consultations with our Artist Services staff, access to our network of arts consultants, Artist Retreats, phone-in clinics and promotional activities. Continue reading

Creative Capital as Arts Incubator: Lessons for the Field

Ebony McKinney, Founding Director of Emerging Arts Professionals/SFBA, wrote a guest post for the Americans for the Arts blog called “Arts Incubators: Creating a Roadmap for Resilience.” We were thrilled to see that the article cited Creative Capital as a model for how arts incubators can play an important role in not only supporting innovation and risk taking, but also by cultivating our most important assets—social and human capital. Here is an excerpt from the post:

In New York, Creative Capital grew out of the demise of individual grants from the National Endowments for the Arts. The Andy Warhol Foundation and a few others thought a response to support individual artists and risk taking should be developed. It was the middle of the dot.com boom and venture capitalism was growing in popularity.

Ruby Lerner, director of Creative Capital, was charged with creating a “21st century arts organization,” drawing inspiration from venture capitalists and mutual aid models, and thinking through the possibility of bringing together grantmaking and artist services, while incorporating an entrepreneurial spirit.

The staff at Creative Capital wanted to move artists out of the “starving artist mindset” and treat them as vital parts of the community by exposing avenues to a sustainable career, which would allow for more meaning and dignity. Over 400 artists have become part of the program since it began in 1999. Continue reading

Artists and Organizations, Experimenting Together


Ruby Lerner, Erika Blumenfeld, Mark Shepard and Pamela Z at IdeaFestival. Photo by Bill Wine, Louisville Voice-Tribune.

Welcome to The Lab, Creative Capital’s new blog exploring the creative process! Since artists and arts organizations thrive on experimentation, our blog will delve into the work-in-progress of the artists we support and share the evolution of Creative Capital as a laboratory for artist services.

Part of my job as President of Creative Capital is to spread the word about what we have learned from working with groundbreaking artists over the past 12 years and to share ideas about how we can enable the creative process to flourish.

In September, I had the pleasure of presenting at IdeaFestival in Louisville with an inspiring group of Creative Capital artists: Erika Blumenfeld, Shih-Chieh Huang, Richard Pell, Mark Shepard and Pamela Z. Continue reading