I just returned from Philadelphia, where I attended the GIA Support for Individual Artists Preconference as an artist respondent, and then introduced the image below at the main conference, on a panel that centered on communication between artists and grantors, with Sean Elwood, Caitlin Strokosch, Paul Tyler and Sasha Yanow.
This diagram was commissioned by Esther Grimm for 3Arts. The initial premise of the commission was to discuss with artists how not winning a grant might impact them. This expanded to a larger catalog of questions about how artists engage with grant writing. What eventually emerged was an image of the ecology of support for the arts as seen by artists. Three points seem particularly noteworthy. 1. Project funding, offered mainly through re-granting organizations, has become the prevalent opportunity (top left, the overlapping green and orange bubbles). It requires facility with specific types of narratives. 2. Artists continue to be highly interested in longer term, unrestricted funding (the green area.) They also desire to drive the conversations more freely. 3. Many artists also work with or have started their own organizations, in part to regain some of the control that has been shifted from artists to organizations, in the wake of the Culture Wars. Exposure to and participation in organizations creates knowledge of their languages and ecologies, and with that advantages in funding work in the current climate. Aware of that impact, funders have created ‘entrepreneurial’ programs to extend this knowledge to artists who currently don’t engage with organizations. These programs are not necessarily appreciated.
These observations were identical to what other artists stated at the conference. Most eloquently, writer Quiara Alegria Hudes pleaded in her keynote for the benefits of support for entire creative cycles, by presenting her own experience. One thing is clear: funders have heard the message.
What I am bringing back from the conference in addition to confirmations of the above is an awareness of just how actively funders are seeking to build audiences for the arts, and to engage cultural producers who are not currently seeking their support. This allows me to better contextualize some of my upcoming activities, located on the South and West sides of Chicago.