The Freelance Artist Resource Producing Collective curated and produced a series of programs for arts and culture makers of all disciplines, in partnership with HowlRound Theatre Commons. Our first webinar, on March 16, 2020, had over 4,500 viewers from all 50 U.S. states! Scroll to watch, and stay tuned for more content.
Artists In a Time of Global Pandemic
We convened a group of artists, administrators, and others from around the US on Monday 16 March 2020 to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting freelance artists (those who identify as independent contractors) from all disciplines and where artists can look for support in this complicated moment. The conversation focused on shared resources (legal, advocacy, virtual work, emergency funding, and financial best practices in crisis) and building and grounding our national community.
Speakers and facilitators include Nicole Brewer (Anti-Racist Theatre Facilitator), Viviana Vargas (Advancing Arts Forward), Ann Marie Lonsdale (Network of Ensemble Theaters and GhostBoat Consulting), Claudia Alick (CALLING UP Justice), Carl Atiya Swanson (Associate Director, Springboard for the Arts), Carrie Cleveland (Education & Outreach Manager, CERF+), Amy Smith (Dance and theater artist, educator, facilitator), Laurie Baskin (Director of Research, Policy & Collective Action, Theatre Communications Group), Avita Delerme, Esq (Senior Counsel, Legal Affairs at The Public Theater), Ouida Maedel, (Musical Theater/Theater Specialist, National Endowment for the Arts), Mark Rossier (Director of NYFA Grants, New York Foundation for the Arts), Brian Eugenio Herrera (Associate Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University), and Jan Feldman (Executive Director, Lawyers for the Creative Arts).
Financial Strategies for Freelance Artists in a Time of Crisis, featuring Amy Smith
Many of us feel embarrassed to talk about financial vulnerability. Our neo-liberal capitalist system tells us that we should be climbing a ladder toward financial success, and that our “successes” and “failures” are indicative of individual strength or weakness. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, however, these feelings may be even more present as we all experience various states of financial uncertainty and anxiety. In this interactive discussion, financial planner, tax preparer, organizer, and artist Amy Smith guided us in thinking about both the practical (emergency funds, safety net programs, debt management, taxes, negotiating with lenders) and the philosophical/emotional (understanding shame and impostor syndrome, building collectives, modeling radical transparency) elements of financial preparedness, and offer resources and support to help freelance artists get through this challenging time.
Come Together: The Art of Gathering in a Time of Crisis
For the large majority of arts and culture workers, in-person, relational work is simply essential. The COVID-19 crisis has flipped our sector upside down, requiring digital over physical connection. Who are we if we cannot gather in space, and how can this moment of systems change force us to create new shared human experiences? Bryan Joseph Lee, leader of The Public Theater’s Public Forum in New York City, guided a conversation focused on how artists can cultivate virtual spaces with purpose, intention, and structure. The conversation will be both tactical (e.g. what is the right platform for the type of gathering I’d like to create?) and philosophical (e.g. how do I facilitate an online conversation that is accessible, inclusive, anti-racist and anti-oppressive?); and intended to expand our vision of what is possible in this challenging season and beyond. Speakers included Stephanie Ybarra (Artistic Director, Baltimore Center Stage), Laurie Woolery (Director, Public Works, Public Theater), and Geoffrey Jackson Scott (Co-Founder and Creative Director, PeoplMOVR).
It Was Always Possible: Centering the Leaders Who Were Here All Along
Erasure and isolation (geographic and social) is not new to people with disabilities, carers (caregivers) and parents of small children, folks in rural communities, and Indigenous artists. Despite burdensome, unwelcoming, and sometimes punitive arts and culture sectors, these leaders continue to bring their energy and labor to creative practice. Our current crisis offers an opportunity for us to center the leadership and expertise of artists who already know how to create sustainable and resilient practices. What can we learn from folks who have been developing strategies for combating isolation and cultivating online, digital, and transmedia practices all along? How can we follow the lead of those who have been advocating for a shift in the way our cultural sector values artists? Join Rachel Spencer-Hewitt (Parent Artist Advocacy League), Claudia Alick (CallingUP), Ashley Hanson (Department of Public Transformation), Ty Defoe (writer & interdisciplinary artist) and Cole Alvis (actor, theatre maker, and Artistic Producer, lemonTree creations) for a discussion about how to work collectively, collaboratively, and imaginatively in a system that was not built with them in mind.
Look for the Helpers: Learnings and Teachings for Building Resilience
As humans across the globe are processing unprecedented levels of stress, fear, and grief, we are all struggling to develop new methods of managing these emotions. Many of us are being tested and strained in ways we’ve never before experienced. What strategies can we call upon to process our current circumstances, especially when we are apart from our communities, families, and loved ones? How can we best take care of ourselves and each other in this frightening and unstable time? In this conversation, healing arts practitioners and faith leaders, all of whom have a relationship to or practice in the arts, offered guidance from their traditions and expertise as a means of supporting our community’s growing capacity for resilience. This conversation was facilitated by Leslie Ishii, Artistic Director, Perseverance Theatre, and featured Lana Smithner, Aaron McKinney, David Shmidt Chapman, and B. Anderson.
Art As Medicine: Building Solidarity in and with Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Communities
The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated racism and xenophobia towards Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. As our national leadership insists on directing the blame for the virus towards Asian countries, reports of hate crimes have soared. In our final #ArtistResource session, artist leaders share knowledge, history, and art as a means of building solidarity within AAPI communities, affirming AAPI artists, and holding space for the AAPI community. The conversation featuring members of the Center of Asian American Media (CAAM), Consortium of Asian American Theater and Artists (CAATA), and Act to Change facilitated by Susan Chinsen (Engagement Producer and Director of Boston Asian American Film Festival) and Meena Malik (musician, Cultural Organizer, Theater Program Manager at NEFA) and will invite artists and activists to examine the past and present as a means of seeding our future. What can we learn from the past and what knowledge can we affirm in ourselves in the wake of this challenging time? What tools, artistic and otherwise, do we have to push back against racism in our current moment? How do we build resilience in ourselves and maintain our commitment to protect one another going forward?