Published On :6/13/2013 11:05:00 AM
to fail and fail big: A Study on Mid-Career Artists, Success and Failure Part 5
Published On :6/6/2013 11:09:00 AM
to fail and fail big: A Study on Mid-Career Artists, Success and Failure Part 4
Published On :5/30/2013 10:51:00 AM
to fail and fail big: A Study of Mid-Career Artists, Success and Failure Part 3
Published On :5/23/2013 10:18:00 AM
to fail and fail big: A Study of Mid-Career Artists, Success and Failure Part 2
Published On :5/17/2013 9:19:31 AM
to fail and fail big: A Study of Mid-Career Artists, Success and Failure Part 1
Published On :5/17/2013 9:01:53 AM
Tweets from "to fail and fail big."
On Wednesday, May 1, 2013, The Field hosted a Panel Event, "to fail and fail big: A case study of Mid-career artists, Success, and Failure," at SITI Company. The panel was facilitated by Georgiana Pickett, Executive Director, Baryshnikov Arts Center. Panelists included award-winning performer and art-maker, Okwui Okpokwasili; Moira Brennan, Program Director, The MAP Fund; producer Thomas O. Kriegsmann and critically acclaimed musician, Somi.
The following is a chronological record of tweets that were posted real time during the event:
Gearing up for To Fail and Fail Big our panel event at SITI Company tonight. See you there
Here we go! Will it be frightening? Will we fail? Will we succeed? Will we move the field forward? Let's find out!
Why are we having this conversation? To discern the conditions that help artists thrive so the sector can help more artists thrive!
From Okwui Okpokwasili, "Do I feel successful? No. But I feel really f**king lucky."
Seems to me that many successful artists are failing regularly! How? Work-in-progress showings as an integral piece of creative practice.
"The only opposition is the mindset of the culture at large. Until this shifts, we will never have enough money for experimental art."
"The best presenters are the best bc of their plasticity...their ability to break the mold." Producer, Tommy Kriegsmann
Choreographer, Kimberly Bartosik, was told, "Being a white woman right now is really not working in your favor."
Does the system that created established artists even exist anymore? Great question.
Tweet #9 - retweeted by Kerry McCarthy and commented on by Karen Harvey "Maybe it's an illusion - because maybe the established artists were actually the beginning of the 'system' they thrive within?"
You keep on going. You develop a certain skin. Your success or failure cannot be what is reflected back at you from anybody.
There's a sense of entitlement to be creative in the younger generation that's not in line with our economic culture.
So many of you said it's not necessarily about failure, it's more about risk-taking and building an environment that champions those risks.
Published On :11/9/2012 1:32:27 PM
Post-Sandy Help for Artists
We hope you are safely recovering from Hurricane Sandy and taking advantage of the many resources that are popping up and/or volunteering when you can. The Field is also aware that the storm and its aftermath have had an impact on your art-making and managing your art, so we’ve gathered our resources and we’re making them available to anyone who needs them—for FREE!
Check out what is coming up and take advantage!
AFTER SANDY: How to Apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Monday, November 12, 6-7pm OR Friday, November 16, 11am-12pm
At The Field
With Shawn Rene Graham
Have you lost work or income due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy? If so, you may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Join Artist Services Manager, Shawn René Graham, and get help with the fine print and process of applying. The deadline for applying for DUA is December 3, so sign up now!
At Governor Cuomo’s request, President Obama declared several counties in New York as major disaster areas. DUA is a Federal program that provides payments to people in a federally declared disaster area who have lost work or income due to the disaster. Read more about the Disaster Unemployment Assistance here.
Fundraising After Sandy
Monday, November 19, 6:30 - 7:30pm
At The Field
With Cara Liguori
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, is it safe, tacky or completely taboo to ask folks to support your art projects? What can/should you do if you were depending on end of year giving to meet your income goals? Join a group of your peers and Field Development Manager, Cara Liguori, to ask your most pressing questions and to share your opinions. The right way forward is going to be different for everyone, so let’s put it all out there and discuss.
Looking for more? Check out the following listings and information:
LMCC's Emergency Grants List:
NYFA's Emergency Grants List:
Volunteer in the Rockaways: Sign up to reserve your seat on a bus to the Rockaways to help with Hurricane relief and clean up. https://rockabus.com/
Occupy Sandy: An off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street, this organizing effort is looking for volunteers and donated goods. Find out more at: http://interoccupy.net/
Dance: Dance/NYC Help them tell your story and help you by writing Lacey Althouse at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the conversation on Twitter @DanceNYC #sandydance.
Theatre: ART/NY www.art-newyork.org They are collecting information re: immediate losses and
expect to provide further assistance so stay in touch with them.
Published On :9/24/2012 2:45:49 PM
Did you know? Information about MAP Fund and Helpful Hints for Applying
The Field’s Shawn René Graham sat down with MAP Fund Program Director, Moira Brennan, for an info session on applying to MAP. This is what we learned!
A little background:
Did you know that the MAP Fund is 24 years old? It is the oldest direct grant for performing art activities in the US and is only second to the NEA in funding resources. They give away $1.2 million annually to up to 40 projects in all performing disciplines—theater, music, dance—and they receive about 1,000 applications every year.
Application review process:
The MAP Fund has three goals in mind when reviewing applications:
1. They are looking for contemporary works that challenge conventions
2. They are interested in the issue of “the other” or diversity in your work
3. They fund proposals that demonstrate excellence of execution.
They want to make it the simplest application form, by keeping it streamlined and only asking for essential info, which includes project description and artist statements, a budget, and work samples.
Funding is usually granted to artists who have been producing work publicly for at least two years. The average award is 10-25% of the applicant’s total budget.
MAP Fund is excited about international projects, but unless the project includes a US-based performance it is unlikely to get funded.
Helpful hints & suggestions:
Project Descriptions and Artist Statements: Resist throwing all of your collaborators’ thoughts into your proposals. Be focused on your vision so that the panelists can see that you are in command of your own project. Make your artistic statements grounded and related to your artistic process; it should be 80% practical and 20% philosophical. Be sure to include a clear execution plan in your project description. There are links in the application that tell you what to write, follow them closely.
Work samples: Make sure your work samples grab the viewer’s attention within the first 5 seconds. Find sections of your work that are explosive. Work samples should be thought out carefully and should include clear descriptions. Your text should direct the panelist’s eye and hold their hand.
Budgets: MAP Fund panelists are keen on artist’s fees. Always include as much detail as possible and break down artist payment fees more than anything else.
For more information about MAP Fund, visit mapfund.org
If you are a Sponsored Artist with The Field and you want to apply to MAP Fund, you must register through us. Contact Shawn René Graham (email@example.com) immediately to apply.
Published On :9/21/2012 1:53:14 PM
Quick Notes and Quirky Wisdom
A short-hand recap of our Seasoned Process panel-discussion
In case you missed out on The Field’s panel, A Seasoned Process: Sustaining Creativity & Weathering Change, we were frantically scribbling notes! Here’s a smattering of sage advice and topical tips (and our rough interpretations) for being an artist, making work, and enjoying the longevity of your career.
A huge thank you to our panelists for their honesty and openess—Eve Beglarian, Donna Uchizono, Keith Reddin, and Judy Tate—and our insightful facilitator, Todd London!
Here we go…
“A career in the arts is not linear…It’s by definition unpredictable…you’ll be following a path that hasn’t been built yet…you can’t look for external validation because there aren’t any marks on the path.” –Eve Beglarian
“…it’s a constant set of corrections to get back on course, rather than staying on a designated path.”
–Judy Tate, on being an artist and the practice of making work
“The next thing I’m going to do is just for me.” –Keith Reddin, on taking a break from making for presenters or funders, and to reconnect with his creative practice
“Don’t take things personally…” –Donna Uchizono, on how it is impossible for all the good projects that are submitted to funders to get awards they deserve
“Have the confidence that it’s all going to work out and be ok—even if that confidence is artificial, because you can’t really know” –Eve Beglarian, advice on the financial instability of being an artist
“It’s been a financial disaster [laughs], but it’s been great. I felt a kind of freedom from promotion.”
–Donna Uchizono, on producing a show that was invite only with no advertising.
“Tension wants to resolve itself.” –Judy Tate, on having trust in your process and that the work has the power to resolve itself
“…I try not to be that introspective. I lose faith all the time…I took that vow of poverty and I haven’t left the monastery yet.” –Keith Reddin
“I have to re-commit to this every day.” –Donna Uchizono on keeping “faith” in her work and staying true to it
“We’re talking about bodies of work, sustaining the art. It isn’t about this piece, it’s about a life’s work.” –Todd London
Published On :9/7/2012 12:40:12 PM
Why Fiscal Sponsorship and How to Get the Most Out of it.
Shawn René Graham, The Field’s Artist Services Manager and a Dramaturg who’s worked extensively in dance and theater (read: she’s been on both sides of the art-making/arts administration divide), breaks down why, when, and how fiscal sponsorship can be most useful to artists.
First off, we’ve got a new mantra for you: “Think business.” According to Shawn René, the key to being a successful and financially astute artist is to deftly straddle art-making and arts administration. She says, “artists need to think of themselves in two ways: as art-makers and as business people.”
A huge part of being a savvy business person is planning ahead. If you want to grow your budget through strategic and sustainable long-term fundraising, and/or if you’re seeking large gifts or applying to family foundations for institutional funding, you need non-profit affiliation.
What’s the difference between a fiscal sponsor and becoming your own 501©3? Primarily, the difference here is in time commitment and scale of operations. Becoming a 501©3 and maintaining that status with the IRS is a huge load of work and can be very complicated; you want to be really sure that it’s right for you before you dive in. A fiscal sponsor, on the other hand, provides many of the same non-profit benefits with a fraction of the work.
So once you’ve swallowed that pill, what are some practical ways to get the most out of your fiscal sponsor and fiscal sponsorship in general? Shawn René breaks it down:
1. Take inventory of the resources that you have—and the ones you still need. What skills or support structures do you bring to the table? In what areas do you require further expertise? This will help you identify what it is you need from a fiscal sponsor. It’s also super useful if you’re looking to barter with other artists.
2. Choose a fiscal sponsor that’s right for you. Think about what kind of relationship you want to have with your fiscal sponsor and what you expect them to provide for you. Do you need help with professional development (budgets, writing, touring, publicity)? Then choose a fiscal sponsor that offers resources on these topics (and be willing to receive critical feedback!).
3. Be ready to talk about your art-making history. Draft a personal timeline of your artistic work so you can visualize this and keep track. Know yourself, your process, and your work.
4. Be ready to learn, understand, and know your value in the marketplace. You are a contributor to the economy. Being fiscally smart is about fortifying partnerships, marketing yourself, and being connected in a network of artists, funders, and stakeholders.
5. Make the time commitment. Running a company (or even just the administrative tasks of an individual artist) takes time and attention. You need to be prepared to deal with the day-to-day upkeep, so build it into your calendar.
So now you’re thinking business. You’re ready to take the plunge. Who are some fiscal sponsors you can turn to? Well, there’s us: The Field. There’s also NYFA, Fractured Atlas, New York Live Arts, and Pentacle to name a few. Shop around, do your research, compare prices and benefits offered. And as always, contact us if you have any questions!
Published On :4/17/2012 2:08:29 PM
From ERPA recipient Connie Hall:
I'm a Joiner! For Selfish Reasons!
I was one of the first lucky recipients of the Economic Revitalization for Performing Artists program. Our project, Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, was essentially an experiment in marrying the artistic model of an actor-driven, collaborative ensemble theater company with a business model borrowed from the food service industry. We were on a quest for the illusive “sustainability”. Theater-as-restaurant. Self-contained. Replicable economic model. As time went on, over and over again in conversations with fellow recipients, the word “community” kept coming up for each of us, separately, as a key to economic and artistic survival. At the beginning I thought that “sustainability” was synonymous with “self-sufficiency”. By the end, “sustainability” had become synonymous with “community”. This moved quickly from an idea to a commitment in a surprising way for me, just as the grant period came to a close.
In June of 2011, Paul Bargetto, artistic director of the undergroundzero festival, approached me to see if Conni’s Avant Garde Restauarant wanted to join a new cooperative of independent theaters. Do I want a slot in the annual festival? Do I want to help come up with a new system of working that involves cooperating rather than competing or working in isolation? Yup, yup, and yup. This is for me the next stage of Economic Revitalization. It involves letting go a bit of the importance I place on my own carefully carved out individual aesthetic niche and hooking my future with others. Really committing to other theater-makers to improve our lot.
The Official Scoop:
In February 2012, eleven independent theater artists and companies formed the undergroundzero cooperative: Paul Bargetto / East River Commedia, Anna Brenner, Jeff Clarke / Performance Lab 115, Alec Duffy / Hoi Polloi, Connie Hall / Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant, Daniel Irizarry & Laura Butler Rivera, Doris Mirescu / Dangerous Ground, Shige Moriya & Ximena Garnica / Leimay, Judith Malina & Brad Burgess / The Living Theatre, Jill A. Samuels, and Shannon Sindelar.
Since 2007, undergroundzero has been operating as a summer festival (Collective Unconscious, PS 122) featuring the cutting edge work of New York City and international theater-makers. This year, participants from past festivals and other veteran experimental theater artists formed the permanent resident cooperative in order to share resources and improve the conditions for making new work. The cooperative’s aim is to secure for its member companies the core means of production including rehearsal space, performance venues, touring opportunities, promotion, management, advocacy, and funding.
This year the undergroundzero festival will be presented at the Living Theatre, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center and outdoor sites June 26 - July 28, 2012.
Check out our website to see what is in the works and how you can get involved: www.undergroundzeronyc.org.
Published On :3/20/2012 2:47:27 PM
How to Get the Ones that Aren't Got
Cara Liguori, Development and Special Events Manager here at The Field, met with Community Liaison Safiya Raheem, from the office of Council Member Inez E. Dickens of Harlem’s District 9, to discuss Council funding for The Field and our programs. She walked away with a whole new bag of knowledge and some sparkly opportunity-ideas!
Council Member Dickens is particularly concerned with reaching District 9 constituents who are truly economically vulnerable and who may not have already established networking inroads or have associations with community organizations.
What does The Field have to do with this? A few things…
We too are curious and concerned about how to reach artists who have not already established a network of support or relationships with service organizations. We are interested in your thoughts and experiences. How did you find out about The Field or similar organizations? What pushed you to reach out for help? Where/when/with whom do you network? We want to hear your suggestions about how to reach vulnerable artists who don’t have the support they need. Email your thoughts, experiences and ideas to Cara Liguori at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll compile your notes and use this information in our efforts to secure further funding to better serve YOU and get to the ones that aren’t got!
And there’s more…
In our opinion, this may be a prime time to introduce your art to a larger audience and to get involved in a local community. Dickens is primarily concerned about the increasing street violence in her district. She’s interested in supporting her community organizations that run programs that enrich the lives of young Harlem residents and keep them engaged and off the streets. Dickens currently allocates funding to the Harlem YMCA and Children’s Art Carnival to help these organizations fulfill her goal of decreased street violence. It’s just a hunch, but for any of you that have ever wanted to run a theater workshop/dance or music class/poetry lab for at-risk youth, we recommend reaching out to these District 9 organizations to see if they are interested in partnering with you!
Published On :3/20/2012 6:51:10 AM
How can we not only define, but also enact, a new set of ethics and values that could transform the way we share, organize, and create?
Most people already have curiosity, enthusiasm, and strong desires to speak truth, hone a craft, produce beauty, and connect with others. How can we practice sharing, organizing, and creating in ways that transform ourselves, our communities, and the world? Here are some ways I do this:
Create online tools for collaboration and exchange!
We are only twenty years into the internet-era. We are in a beautifully experimental stage of the information revolution. Since the internet reached a critical mass in 1990, many people have been asking online platforms to foster deep connections in real time and space. At OurGoods.org, we support the production of new work through barter, because resource sharing is the paradigm of the 21st century. OurGoods is specifically dedicated to the barter of creative skills, spaces, and objects, because we want to build tools for the communities we are part of.
Learn from elders in sharing communities
We are in a contemporary fumbling for sharing rituals at intimate-distance. I've been looking to 30-year-old intentional communities and collectively-run spaces and institutions for advice. I've been visiting the intentional community Ganas, in NYC, to learn about the relationships they've built to share money, cars, houses, and work for over 30 years. At Ganas, for three decades, a voluntary daily meeting is set aside for members to talk through their personal struggles with cooperation. Members of Ganas recognize that no change will happen unless we struggle to "become the change we want to see in the world." We are conditioned to compete, talk over, and gossip. We need more spaces to practice cooperating, listening, and working through conflict. Jen Abrams, a co-founder of OurGoods, has worked in the oldest collectively-run women and trans theater space for 13 years. She reminds me that, "you have to take time to check in with one another...emotions are not efficient... either you address your feelings together before the meeting, or you end up working through them while trying to have a meeting."
Vocalize your Values
At Trade School, we asked a facilitator to help us come up with our principles. We talked about why we were each involved in Trade School New York (there are now Trade Schools in over 6 countries) and brainstormed about the things that are at the core of our work (the things that probably won't ever be changed). After 2 hours, we made this rough set of working principles:
1. Trade School is a learning experiment where teachers barter with students.
2. Trade School is not free-- we believe in the power of non-monetary value.
3. We place equal value on big ideas, practical skills, and experiential knowledge.
1. Everyone has something to offer.
2. We are actively working to create safe spaces for people and ideas.
3. We want more spaces made by and for the people who use them.
1. Trade School runs on mutual respect.
2. We avoid hoarding leadership by sharing responsibilities and information.
3. We are motivated by integrity, not coercion.
4. Our organization is always learning and evolving.
We recognize that bartering is a way to experiment with value. Because value is subjective, some people may not value the work that you make as much as you do. After bartering for years on OurGoods.org, we've come up with these basic guidelines:
1. Be clear: Define the exchange. Articulate what constitutes a job well-done.
2. Do your homework: Read your partner’s profile and feedback. Meet before you agree.
3. Be accountable: Do what you said you were going to do, when you said you’d do it.
4. Communicate: Stay in touch. Talk about what’s going right (or wrong) as it happens.
5. Leave feedback: This is what makes our community work.
Published On :3/8/2012 9:59:12 AM
No, but really: What is Fieldwork?
Fieldwork is for any artist who is interested in learning about how his/her work comes across to audiences.
Fieldwork is like no other place or format for showing work. You hear honest, direct feedback about what you’re making, not from friends or family, but from a group of people who will closely mirror your audience – people who aren’t connected to your work necessarily.
In Fieldwork, it doesn’t matter who is in the group with you – even people whose work you may not admire are able to give you feedback that will help your work develop.
In Fieldwork the direction of the work lays in your hands – since you don’t explain what your intent is, instead letting the work speak for itself, you remain the guardian of its development.
Often in Fieldwork, people find after they show their work, they are again energized about it, find new angles or ideas that are inspired by the feedback. Sometimes just showing the work in front of others gives the maker fresh eyes.
Most artists who do Fieldwork find that giving feedback is as important as showing their work. By participating in the process, you will learn to become much better at seeing work, putting into words how it is coming across to you, and verbalizing this information in a way that the maker can hear.
People often develop lasting bonds with their peer Fieldworkers – people find collaborators, performers, and audience for their work by participating in the workshop.
We reached out to Susan Oetgen who will be facilitating the upcoming Guest Artist Fieldwork with Brian Brooks, to ask her what she gets from Fieldwork:
“Sharing work in Fieldwork always gives me useful information about whether my intentions are coming across successfully or not. Also, I like to practice performing as often as I can, and Fieldwork groups are great opportunities to actually get up and do something in front of an audience, with slightly lower stakes than in a public performance.”
Try it for yourself!
Click here to learn more about this season’s Guest Artist Fieldwork (March 20 – May 8).
Published On :3/5/2012 7:38:30 AM
Saying Goodbye to '25'
As we say goodbye to our 25th year, a parting note from former Executive Director, Steve Gross…
I worked at The Field from 1987 until 2006, when I left to begin my practice as a psychologist. I now work at a maximum security prison for women, and the point I’d like to make is that working with independent artists and working with convicted felons isn’t all that different.
Let me explain. Fieldwork, The Field’s oldest and core program, is a place where artists show their work as it’s developing. There are no costumes, no polish, no fourth wall – just the work itself, and after it’s shown, the artist sits down with his or her peers and gets feedback about how the work has come across. What I learned through participating in Fieldwork all those years is how to look at work, how to make sense of what is coming across, and find a way to talk about it so that the artist can learn about the work, find out how it impacts and audience.
At the prison, my job is much the same. The inmates’ “work” in this case is their behaviors, and my job is to take in what they are doing – how they behave – and make sense of it, and give them feedback, all in an effort to help them change, help them grow, so that when they’re released, and most of them will be released, they’re in better shape than they were before.
So you can see that the skill of being able to watch, synthesize, and give feedback is one that has served me incredibly well. I’ve had a lot of training…four years of graduate school, three externships, an internship and a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale (yes, I will even name drop in service of The Field!), and yet the best training I’ve ever gotten is at The Field. It’s a kind of training that all The Field’s artists and staff receive, and my experience is that it prepares us not only to make better art, but to be better people.
Here’s to 25 more years of making better art and becoming better people!
Published On :3/1/2012 2:56:02 PM
Board Members or Bored Members?
Whether you have (or are building) an Advisory Board or official Board of Directors this group of individuals can seriously build resources (cash and human) and visibility for you—or be a lethargic, disengaged gaggle of needy folks.
Jennifer Wright Cook, our Executive Director, and James McLaren, Field Board Member, were panelists at today’s Devos Institute of Arts Management Seminar “maximizing Board productivity” for 200+ NYC arts organizations. Fellow panelists included Carol Ostrow, Producing Director and Jamie Harris, Board Member, from The Flea; and Gail Nathan, Executive Director, and Natalie Jeremijenko, Acting Board Chair and artist extraordinaire from Bronx River Art Center.
Top tips and takeaways:
1. It’s a relationship. Build it over time with trust.
2. Your Board is often your biggest donors – treat them as such!
3. Personalize it! Find something for each individual Board member to engage with you on. Something they enjoy too (not necessarily have your CPA Board member only do finances with you! She/he is with you for art joy too!)
4. Keep the Board excited! Communicate well and share the good news often!
5. Leverage good news for all it is worth (use your 5 year anniversary as an opportunity to celebrate in many ways; use it to up your give/get numbers and then maintain the $ level!)
6. Have an alignment element every year to ensure that Board and staff are aligned on mission and service delivery. Do we all agree to what we are doing? What is expected of you? Can you provide it? What can you provide? Etc.
7. Have an Advisory or Transitional Board (if you are in a transition!) to build your circle of influence, stakeholders and possibly money.
8. Have clear and forthright conversations with Board (and staff) about expectations, goals and desires. Spend time talking!
Published On :2/13/2012 8:21:46 AM
Field Dance Fund 2012 Announced!
The Field awards $42,000 to three New York City choreographers to build their capacity for creating bold new artworks with adaptive practices!
The ladder to success is broken for most mid-career dance artists; and younger artists question why to even get on the ladder in the first place! The Field Dance Fund (FDF) aims to transform artists’ practices so that they can move from a “triage” paradigm (in which many artists work), to a more honed, outcome-driven paradigm. Overall, the FDF artists will learn to combat creative burn-out by implementing more dexterous practices to move their careers and art-making forward. Unlike any other program in New York, and with generous support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Mertz Gilmore Foundation, FDF offers six months of individualized consulting services (valued at $4,000 per artist), critical peer support and a cash award ($10,000 each). Who are the lucky recipients? In January 2012 (the auspicious year of the Water Dragon), The Field selected the following three FDF grantees (from more than 70 applicants) via a rigorous peer adjudication process: • luciana achugar makes work that “celebrates being in the experience of the body in its entire sensual splendor.” A Uruguayan choreographer based in Brooklyn, she received a Bessie award for her work, PURO DESEO, in 2010, and was on Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” list in January of 2011. • Rachel Cohen’s work “encompasses excavation, research, movement and sculpture.” She often works with inanimate materials such as clay, flour, taffy, gum, wood and paper. Her company Racoco/Rx received a NYFA BUILD Stability grant in 2010 and is currently a company-in-residence at CAVE in Brooklyn. • Michelle Dorrance seeks to “address the class wars in dance by helping audiences to view tap dance in a new and dynamically compelling context.” After performing with the Off-Broadway production STOMP for four years, she is now focusing on her own choreographic process. Michelle is a 2011 Bessie recipient for Outstanding Production.
The launch of the 2012 Field Dance Fund is only a single manifestation of The Field’s core values in action. We are thrilled about this new adventure and we can’t wait to work with the FDF artists to help them actualize their ambitions!
Published On :2/6/2012 12:40:19 PM
“Self-affirming Ignorance” & Other Tools of the Trade
To kick off our Winter-Spring season we held an ERPA open dialogue at Joyce SoHo with artists and presenters to talk about the challenges and best-practices of presenter-artist relationships. What are the do’s and don’ts and what are the needs to be filled? Here are some reflections:
Do your homework!
• Research the venue or presenter you are interested in. Know why you are interested. Know their space. See the work they produce.
• Know what your work/process needs. Know what you need as an artist. Know why that particular venue is right for you.
Stand up for your art!
• Participate in a little “self-affirming ignorance”, says artist James Scruggs. Ask for what you really need (not what you think you can get)—even if it is huge and crazy and you think it is out of the question—pretend you don’t know any better. You might just get what you ask for. And if nothing else, you won’t have devalued your work from the get-go.
• Make your case to presenters in a real, honest, and specific way. Why are they the right fit for you? What is it about that space or that curator that is so right for your piece? As Brian Rogers, theater artist and Artistic Director of the Chocolate Factory, suggested, “make a compelling case for your needs.”
• “Know who you’re making your work for,” says Kristin Marting of HERE. And interact with those people from the seed start of the work’s development and throughout the whole process.
Some useful best-practices:
• “Don’t send blanket emails”, says Cathy Eilers, Program Manager at Joyce SoHo. Make it personal; tailor and personalize your emails and be specific.
• Keep moving to stay visible. Participate in showcases and residencies where you show excerpts of your work. Presenters often attend these as a way to see several artists’ work at once. The more active you are, the more you are seen.
• Ask about ways that presenters can help support your work throughout its development. This makes a space for you to build a stronger relationship with that presenter and gives them a chance to feel invested in their curation.
• Stay in touch with people and don’t get discouraged if they don’t respond. We are all busy and emails often slip through the cracks; keep on keepin’ on!
Thank you to those who attended, to Joyce Soho for generously hosting the event, and to Maura Donohue for her astute facilitation. To learn more about ERPA and other upcoming events click here.
Published On :1/23/2012 11:12:45 AM
Presenters & Artists: Starting the Conversation
Phew! APAP, American Realness, and Under the Radar are done. Maybe you’re still checking out COIL… but overall the who’s who mega-networking fest is complete.
What did you take away from it?
Share your thoughts with us as we gear up for
ERPA PUBLIC DIALOGUE: How Presenters & Artists Work Together
Monday, January 30, 6:30-8pm – at Joyce SoHo
The relationship between theaters and artists can easily become skewed by the imbalance of finances and ratio of artists to venues. But maybe the artists are the ones who are really best positioned to ease this strain – because it’s the artists’ priority. To quote Maura Donohue, our panel facilitator, “The artists are the ones providing the art, the reason the theaters exist.” And remembering that, valuing one’s own work, can help artists to enfranchise themselves to come to these relationships as an equal, and at ease.
Tell us your successful war stories!
When did you hit a bump in the road in your artist/presenter relationship and how did you move forward productively to a smooth finish?
Artists: How do you ask for the fees that you need? What’s that like for you?
Presenters: What kind of processes do you use in developing work with artists?
Come on! Don’t be shy!
Published On :12/5/2011 2:37:28 PM
Amplify Brooklyn — on Sharing from Parsons Desis Lab on Vimeo.
Published On :10/27/2011 2:17:17 PM
OURGOODS: Be your own boss!
I co-founded 2 barter initiatives in 2009/2010 that became my part time jobs in 2011 (we just received $120,000 in grant money!). I also now teach 2 undergraduate courses at Parsons, but I don’t have a masters degree and I went to a college that was tuition-free. How did this happen?
1. I know what I want and I work towards it.
2. I do A LOT of research before I ask for help.
3. I reach out to people who can mentor me.
4. I show up on time and work my ass off.
5. I demand respect (perhaps because I grew up with privilege).
6. I refuse to go into Debt for school.
7. My policy: be nice to everyone.
- 1. SELF AWARENESS: There’s not too much I can say about this, except that you need to have clear intentions in order to pursue your dreams. Here’s two questions that help: What does success look like for you? What can you not, not do? (a.k.a. What MUST you do?) Meditate, go on long walks, try things out, talk to people who have careers that you think you want, whatever you need to do to be more self-aware and clear about your goals. Some people say reading this book helps: http://www.amazon.com/What-Color-Your-Parachute-2011/dp/158008270X but I’ve never read it.
- 2. RESEARCH: I’m all about doing online research to find mentors in your field of interest. Mentors are great because they share your enthusiasm but have more information and connections in the real world than you do. Most of these people have personal websites, or you can find their email at the school or business where they work. Luckily, the Internet exists, so you can introduce yourself to potential mentors without waiting in line after a lecture and/or socializing at a party! This helps me because I’m a good writer (my mom taught me that) BUT I’m not comfortable schmoozing or promoting myself at parties. I’m also a woman who doesn’t conform to a lot of norms for “serious professionals”: I don’t do my hair, paint my nails, wear girl-y shoes/clothes, shave my body, or wear make-up. Basically, I think it’s best for people to learn about what I’ve done (and how it related to their past work and research) without seeing what I look like. If they respond to my initial email, perhaps we will meet in person, but then they already know that we share common interests and/or goals, so it’s about WORK and not what I look like.
- 3. REACHING OUT: See above. Also, learn to write really well, in many different styles! How can you do this? Trade time with an editor, writer, or other proof-reader on OurGoods.org, or find a friend who will help you improve your writing skills. When you write an email to a potential mentor, use “affinity jargon.” I use the term “affinity jargon” to describe the language or style of writing your mentor uses. Find an aspect of this style or “jargon” that resonates with you, and use that style/jargon when writing to your potential mentor. For example, when I wrote an email to Lewis Hyde, I opened with poetry because he loves poetry. After catching their attention by communicated in a style that they understand, your job is to demonstrate your research and connection to their work. Once they understand that you know who they are and respect them, you should demonstrate your value to them. What have you done that they might care about? What are you about to do that you’d like advice about? Make a clear connection between what they do and who you are.
- 4. RIGOR: Take yourself seriously. No one cares about your work more than you, so do a good job. You can’t say “it was my client’s fault” that it looks so bad. It’s up to you to make your work as great as it can be, and to present your best work online (or in an attached .pdf in your email) in a way that people you reach out to will understand. If you work hard, and continue to take risks despite all odds, you are rigorous.
- 5. PRIVILEDGE: I went to a private high school and I’m white. Yes, my dad grew up without running water and was the first person in his family of tobacco farmers to go to college, but he became a doctor and that upbringing means that I’m considered “polite, reliable, confident, well spoken, well-rounded, energetic, pulled-together, with a good resume, references, and a high GPA” because I was taught upper-class manners and “standard” English, had expensive dental work, health care, and vacations as a teenager, was able to focus on my studies without having to support myself or my family, was told I could do anything, and grew up with connections to people with money. I volunteer for the grassroots economic justice group SolidarityNYC, and they help me have hard conversations about inequity. Cheyenna Weber gave me this book Classified for more information about class priviledge, and it me realize that “discrimination erases individual identity by assuming that everyone in the group is the same and deserves to be treated the same…privilege erases group identity by assuming that everyone in the group is a unique and special individual, that their uniqueness entitles them to preferential treatment.” (p/ 8 http://www.resourcegeneration.org/resources/publications) So although I do work hard, figuring out how to interact with wealthy people and to demand respect is very much related to the way I grew up. If you didn’t grow up that way, you should remember (and remind anyone who discriminates) that you too deserve to be treated as a unique individual, and that no dream is too big for you. On top of that, you might consider finding a class-ally (like me) who can talk to you about unspoken codes of conduct.
- 6. NO DEBT: Do NOT pay more than $10,000 max. for school. If your parents are thinking of giving you any money at all, use it to get a mortgage on a building or apt. near the school you think you want to go to, and spend the next few years living with students at that school who pay rent towards that mortgage until you own a house and have tons of connections at that school. Cooper Union is free and many masters programs will pay you. Also, live with lots of people so that your rent is low and you can buy food in bulk.
- 7. BE NICE! Here’s a list of opportunities I have, and how I got them. Most of this has to do with operating form a place of generosity around everyone I know, connecting people, remembering what they need, and assuming their best intentions if/when they are flaky. When it becomes clear that you operate from a place of generosity, people will be more generous to you.
- 1. I’m teaching a class to undergraduates at Parsons. Pascale Gatzen told her Dean to consider the class. I met Pascale at Mildred’s Lane, an alternative school/residency in Honesdale, PA. At Mildred’s Lane, she heard about Trade School and OurGoods, two independent barter initiatives I’d been working on. I’d been doing them as a volunteer for 10-50 hours a week with 2 main collaborators (see #4) and others for 2 years, and reading tons of books about barter on my own at the same time. I went to Mildred’s Lane because I met the director, Morgan Puett, at a residency I went to straight out of school (Oxbow in Saugatuck, MI). I got to go to Oxbow because I applied (and worked my ass off on the application) and because my college, Cooper Union, sends students there. I got to go to Cooper Union because I applied (and worked my ass off on the application) and went to an art residency in high school called Ox-Bow (in Napa, CA) where I developed a portfolio and because I went to a private high school where I learned how to write well. My mom is also a feminist historian and helped me learn to write more than anyone.
source: Parsons/Pascale/Morgan/Ox-bow/Cooper Union/Oxbow/Wheeler/mom+dad
- 2. I’m co-teaching another class to undergrads at Parsons. Eve Mosher invited me to co-teach when her co-teacher had to leave the job at the last minute. I know Eve Mosher because I used to work for an artist named Natalie Jeremijenko when I got out of college. Natalie taught me a lot of things about being collaborative and the unhappy speed of a “famous” career. I met Natalie because I told my high school art teacher that I was graduating from college and needed a job, and she told her husband who taught at RISD, and he happened to be walking with Natalie one day and remembered to mention it to her. She then went to my senior show in college and we worked out a deal where I worked for her on a stipend that was paid through NYU (hello, library card!). I’d recommend working for a collaborative artist because I’m still friends with a lot of the people that she worked with, and it wasn’t an isolated studio practice.
- 3. I’m working on OurGoods.org, a barter network for creative people. I got to do this because I applied for a grant to support this idea (while working the night-shift at an art studio where I could do whatever I wanted as long as I stayed awake) and got $5,000 to begin the project. I then asked the hardest working people I knew from college (Louise Ma and Rich Watts) to work on OurGoods with me, and the people who gave me the grant (The Field!) introduced me to Jen Abrams, someone who had a similar idea. Rather than rejecting her similar idea, I actively sought to bring her into the team at an early stage. We are now great friends, and she brings 10 years of grant writing experience to the group. She is 40 and we write grants together, so I’ve learned a lot from her. Now, we’ve written over 30 grants together, and just got $100,000 to make OurGoods.org our part-time jobs for our 5 person team! This is a good example of writing grants, not having connections. It’s still all about writing well though.
source: OurGoods/The Field/grant
- 4. OurGoods.org is in a project room at Creative Time. This is because the curator is friends with another group in the show, Temporary Services, and they suggested he include us. I met them because I’ve researched their work for a long time, and suggested that Oxbow in MI invite them to be guest artists one year. When they did, I applied to go back to Oxbow, and I got in and was able to hang out with them. They are great artists, and so inspiring: http://www.temporaryservices.org/contact.html
source: Creative Time/Nato/Temporary Services/Oxbow/research
- 5. I pay $250 each month for rent in a 12’ x 30’ studio in a live-work industrial space. This is because three years ago, Chrstine (someone I went to school with but didn’t know well) said “we should organize a studio space together…and my parents can loan us $35,000 to do it!” Why did she trust me? Word on the street: I was reliable. Why did I trust her? I’m an optimist, she seemed reliable, and she had the people and the money to pull off a huge project. Christine brought a bunch of friends who had attended a residency called Skowhegan together to build out the space, and we divided an 8,000 square foot space up into 30 small spaces by building walls, doing the electrical, putting in sinks, etc. For the first two years, we gave everyone who built out the space a reduction in rent, but we didn’t pay ourselves to run the LLC and the space on a daily basis. My rent was $550. After two years of organizing (finding new tenants, collecting 30 checks to pay rent, filing taxes, responding to issues on the spot, etc.) Christine got burnt out and left for grad school. We realized that the people who took a risk (me, Christine, Colin) should get paid! Now my rent is only $250 a month, and I get $25/hr for each hour I spend working on the space. Now we also buy our food in bulk from an organic distributor, which lowers costs and helps us share everything in the kitchen. It’s a BIG commitment to know that my name is on the lease for 3 more years (5 total), and that I can’t leave NY until then, but we keep rent pretty low for a bunch of artists and I met Huong and so many other great people through the space! It’s also how I met my boyfriend of 2 years…
source: Studio/Colin/Christine/Cooper Union
Published On :10/4/2011 6:08:27 PM
Let's talk about money.
How do you make your money? For real?
Is it from performance fees, teaching, arts admin, commissions, grants, mechanical royalties? merch? sheet music sales? record label advance? or a day job at (fill in the blank)? Are there other ways you can make money from your art that fit organically with your vision and skills? Or do you want a well paid non-art job that gives you the freedom and brain space to create your art independently?
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Empower your self with knowledge. And then act on it strategically.
The music business (non- and for-profit) seems to have so many more opportunities to monetize their art (and they do, sort of) but the principles are the same I think. The super smart ladies of Future of Music Coalition shared their "Accounting for Creatives" seminar with a dynamic group of music artists at The Field's FAR Space on Monday, September 26th. They say that there are 40 streams of money for music artists (well, 29 at first but growing!) The 40 streams of money here may not be your streams. But maybe there is some area of income generation in your life that you can drive harder? or a new one you can test out?
These are four of my takeaways (some are old news but always good reminders, some are newer news that just hit me harder tonight and that bear repeating I think.)
1) develop relationships with your fans! they are your #1 source of support (financial and emotional!) (we all know this, but are you maximizing your people? and your time and skills at doing this work?)
2) we are artist-citizens: be aware of the issues in our community (all of our various communities) and act up where you can.
3) you can be middle class if you want! being a starving artist is not really romantic! what do YOU want from your art work? how can YOU achieve it?
4) knowledge is power! if you know your income and you know your expenses you can be strategic about achieving your goals (do you want to buy a house? do you want to tour internationally? or have a baby? do you want more gigs in the city? do you have health insurance?) Hiding from your own financial comprehension will not help you.
Peek at FMC's survey here and stay tuned for updates. It's all about music for now but I bet this is replicable for theater, dance, etc!
OTHER RESOURCES FROM FUTURE OF MUSIC COALITION:
Educational and Cultural Grants (more than a few artists seem to be getting these grants! this site is a bit obtuse but check it out and the next two links too)
Jazz at Lincoln Center's webpage for Rhythm Road:
Published On :9/27/2011 9:46:29 AM
OURGOODS: Sharing Power: From a Sharing Economy to Solidarity Economics
The Creative Time Summit is "a conference that brings together cultural producers—including artists, critics, writers, and curators—to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. Their international projects bring to the table a vast array of practices and methodologies that engage with the canvas of everyday life. The participants range from art world luminaries to those purposefully obscure, providing a glimpse into an evolving community concerned with the political implications of socially engaged art."
In 8-minute presentations, we heard from artists, activists, and designers from all over the world. A moving statement came from Annenberg Prize winner Jeanne van Heeswijk: "In my work, we are learning collectively to take responsibility."
So, what are the political implications of socially engaged art? If politics is about the distribution of power (or "how we learn collectively to take responsibility"), how does socially engaged art distribute power and help groups learn collectively to take responsibility? For me, a lot of socially engaged art is like the new term "sharing economy", giving a little without changing power structures. The projects that moved me most at Creative Time's Summit and exhibition, Living as Form, truly engage communities by redistributing power. Remember, as Participatory Rural Appraisal tells us, "participation without redistribution of power is an empty and frustrating process for the powerless."
If you haven't visited the show yet, consider where each project places the participants in this ladder of participation:
All of this reminds me of a conversation I had with Cheyenna Weber of SolidarityNYC...
Caroline (2010): “What’s the difference between the sharing economy and the solidarity economy?”
Cheyenna (2010): “It’s the difference between doing something that is good and doing something that is just. It’s the difference between friends helping each other and true social justice.”
Cheyenna and Caroline (2011): We all recognize that sharing is good. Sharing, lending, and borrowing help connect neighbors, encouraging isolated individuals to create community by consuming less. But the latest sharing projects all focus on wealthy neighbors. What if I’ve never had too much? How do we address social inequity? How do we redistribute power to the majority who live without it? To transform an economic system which fails to meet community needs, we have to move from a sharing economy to a solidarity economy.
What's the difference? The solidarity economy is based on democratic control and social justice, not just cooperation and ecological sustainability. It's about sharing power. Solidarity means recognizing our global interdependence, addressing injustices in our communities by replacing dynamics of unequal power with grassroots, cooperative leadership. The sharing economy is one step towards a system-wide change, where all people are empowered to meet their needs. Sharing is about neighbors helping neighbors, but in which neighborhoods? Solidarity means sharing with your neighbor in public housing by joining a credit union, supporting low income immigrants who run worker-owned businesses, and providing sliding scale pricing at events to welcome all people. The solidarity economy addresses power imbalances directly through grassroots economic justice.
In New York City we are lucky to have hundreds of examples of solidarity economy practices. Sometimes they are new, utilizing economic innovations, and other times they are a return to ancient survival strategies which have served our communities well. Together they make up a dynamic alternative to an economy based solely on profit and greed. The models vary but cross all sectors of economic activity: housing, healthcare, retail, financial services, food, culture, and transportation, to name a few.
At solidaritynyc.org we're documenting these practices and models in an online map and a series of short films portraying the stories of different solidarity economy leaders. The films, Portraits of the Solidarity Economy, include stories of food and worker cooperatives, intentional communities, credit unions, community gardens, barter networks, and participatory budgeting. Each is empowering specific NYC communities and in turn creating a solidarity alternative to the destructive economic transactions that dominant our daily lives.
If you want more info about the Summit, watch the videos here (in particular, I'd watch Laura Flanders, Urban Bush Women, Ted Purves, and Jeanne van Heeswijk): http://www.creativetime.org/programs/archive/2011/summit/summit_presenters.html
Published On :9/9/2011 8:48:36 AM
OURGOODS: Why do artists need to share resources?
Think about this...
1) More Americans identify as artists than as lawyers, doctors, or police officers... There are at least 2 million of us! (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
2) Since 2009, 80% of arts organizations in NY are reducing their budgets and more than 50% are reducing staff and canceling programs. (source: Alliance for the Arts 2009)
3) Meanwhile, sharing is on the rise. As The Economist put it, "What do you do when you are green, broke and connected? You share."
4) OurGoods exists because more work gets done in networks of mutual respect and shared resources than in competitive isolation. By working together, members of OurGoods build lasting ties in communities of enormous potential.
How is OurGoods funded?Three years ago, I applied for the first round of ERPA funding for the idea that became OurGoods.org. With three years of mentorship and financial support from The Field backing OurGoods up, I'm teaching a class at The New School called Barter: The Social Practice of Non-Monetary Exchange. If you're interested in reading more about barter and following the class from the blog, go to http://barterclass.tumblr.com/. Also, we just received $100,000 from The Rockefeller Foundation and will be running an analog version of OurGoods as part of Creative Time's Living as Form show. For a schedule of events there, and appointments for barter advice, check out: http://ourgoods.org/events/ourgoods_living_as_form
Published On :8/23/2011 1:24:23 PM
Grant Writing 001 for Theater Companies: How to Win your First Grant
by Ben Cikanek, co-Artistic Director of Firework Theater
To clarify, our young company does not have a long history of grant writing (or grant-winning) for that matter. We secured our first funding from NYSCA in 2011 and have a handful of other applications in the works. At a recent seminar at The Field, I offered up a few pieces of practical guidance which were fresh in my memory from our first-ever grant writing efforts and Audra asked me to articulate them for the benefit of other first-timers. So, here they are:
(1) Take a deep breath. The road is long. Expect to apply for your first grant one year from today. There is a lot to do before you start filling out forms.
(2) Initial research. Visit The Field alone or with your co-producer. There is a binder of grant opportunities which approximately mirrors the monthly mailing The Field sends out to its members. This binder will give you a sense of the annual lifecycle of application opportunities (it also includes complete copies of other member companies' past grant applications). Write down the grants that you think may be appropriate for your organization. Next, get online and visit the homepages of theater companies that are a few years further down the path you intend to follow. Write down where these companies are gaining support, as well. Track everything in a spreadsheet.
(3) Consult the guru. Set up a meeting with Audra. Run your ideas by her. For instance, you'll say "Can I apply for NYC's Department of Cultural Affairs funding?" And Audra will say, "Only if you already have your own 501(c)(3)." Audra will guide you well, but you'll want to be organized before you meet with her. Make sure you come in with a list of grants, deadlines, and your overall fund-raising goal. She may have a couple additional ideas for you in terms of grant opportunities or resources for additional research. She will definitely tell you to find less competitive grant opportunities by getting specific: What is it about your work that makes you different from everyone else? If you fill a very specific niche, and you can find a funding organization that exclusively supports this specific niche, you're on the right track. In any case, try to leave your meeting with no more than ten viable options.
(4) Research deep dive. It's time to get into the detail. Do deep research into each organization. Why do they exist? Who have they funded in the past? Who are the key members of the staff? You need to confirm, based on your research, that each grant you are considering is appropriate for your company, or will be within the next few years after you grow into your own mission and purpose. Try to narrow down your options to six possibilities.
(5) Begin to build relationships. Call the appropriate department heads from each organization on your list. Introduce yourself and your company. Let them know that you are calling because you are hoping to apply for a future funding cycle and you simply want to introduce yourself. If I'm having a good conversation with someone, I like to ask practical questions like:
• Based on my research, I feel like our company might be a good fit for your XYZ grant, but can you tell me in your own words what kind of organizations or projects you are looking to fund?
• What is the best way for us to start to build a relationship with your organization? Is there someone in particular we can invite to future shows or readings?
• Do you ever award companies their first grant, or do you generally want an applicant to have a history of past support?
• Can I add you to our mailing list?
In my experience, funding organizations do not want to review applications that are a bad match for their program. They are usually very happy to give you the raw truth: don't bother applying this year--we don't have any money; or your company really isn't a good match for us; or in a few years you guys might want to apply but you're just not a mature enough organization yet.
Right after you hang up the phone, send a follow-up email thanking them for the conversation. Even if you are a company of one, you should operate like a business professional. I went to business school, and I can tell you that everything you need to know about professionalism you learned in grammar school: be polite; be thoroughly prepared for every conversation; read and follow application instructions thoroughly; be punctual. You absolutely do not want to be the company apologizing for submitting a late application.
Log your initial (and all subsequent) conversations into your grant tracking spreadsheet. Your spreadsheet should function as a rudimentary relationship management tool. You always want to be able to start an email by saying, "We last spoke in March about XYZ topic and I am following up with you because..."
After these initial calls, you should try to narrow down your list of potential grant applications to three.
(6) Nurture your relationships. Send postcards for your shows. Make them aware of positive press attention you may be receiving.
Invite them (plus guests) to see your work. Be there when they show up. Have a reserved sign on their seat. Thank them for coming in-person and subsequently via email. Track all of this correspondence in your spreadsheet.
(7) Apply. My producing partner and I use Google Docs for our grant applications because we can both concurrently revise a single document from different locations. Give yourself a month for each application, writing and rewriting over the course of four or five sessions. If you have a supportive contact within the funding organization, ask them if they'd be willing to review your application and offer you feedback on it before you submit. If not, find someone who can. Don't forget that The Field requires fourteen days to review your application before they submit it on your behalf. We like to write in a simple, conversational tone in the first person plural. Surrender yourself to the fact that your company and its accomplishments are exactly what they are--no more and no less. Articulate yourself clearly and concisely, and then...
(8) Move on. Most organizations do not allow you to request funds in excess of 15% of your project's total budget so temper your financial expectations. As I mentioned in Step 1, the road is long and the amount of effort you need to devote to each application is significant. By the time you are done applying for three grants, it'll likely be time to start reapplying the following year.
So, that's what we have learned over the past year. I would love to hear your personal experiences and perspectives with grant writing, so please share them below!
Best of luck,