Archive for the ‘trends’ Category

Survey for New England Creatives

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Creatives Count, the artists and creative workers survey from NEFA

The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) has launched Creatives Count, a survey of artists and creative workers in New England to better understand, support, and advocate for their work. NEFA is the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s regional partner supporting arts and culture.

NEFA states that artists and individuals in creative industries…

… are a vital part of our region’s vibrancy, but are often undercounted – and underserved – because of the fluid nature of their work life. You can help change that!

Artists and creative workers of New England are invited to:

  • Answer questions about your jobs, income, and career priorities
  • Be entered into a drawing to win a $25 gift card
  • Count yourself in… and encourage creatives in your networks to do the same

The survey is designed to capture the complexity of creative work – please take this opportunity to convey how much you count. Help advocates, service providers, and other stakeholders ensure that creative workers are better served by employment analysis, program planning, and advocacy strategies.

Survey closes November 18, 2016. Analysis of responses will be included in a report to be released Spring 2017.

Take the survey.

New Artist Opportunities in Boston and Beyond

Thursday, September 15th, 2016


We’ve been excited to see a number of new funding and support opportunities for Boston/New England artists announced recently. Here’s a brief rundown.

New England Dance Fund
The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) announced its New England Dance Fund, which awards “small, catalytic grants directly to choreographers who identify and articulate a critical opportunity that will significantly advance their career in dance.” The program, which aims to strengthen the dance sector in the region, is in addition to NEFA’s existent portfolio of support for dance artists. The next deadline to apply is September 26, 2016.

Assets for Artists in Boston
Assets for Artists is a unique program that offers financial and entrepreneurial training to artists as well as an innovative matched savings grant program. It’s administered by MASS MoCA with a host of partnering and sponsoring orgs (including us). This year, the City of Boston joins as a partner, providing dedicated funding for 10 matched savings grants (from $1,000 – $2,000 each) for Boston-based artists, and financial and business workshops to strengthen the professional skills of those 10 artists and others. Deadline to apply is September 30, 2016.

The Boston Foundation’s Next Steps for Boston Dance
The Next Steps for Boston Dance program aims to support Greater Boston choreographers with access to rehearsal space, consulting meetings with expert advisors, cohort/collaborator meetings, and $5,000 in funding. The deadline to apply is October 24, 2016, 5 PM EST.

The Boston Foundation’s Live Arts Boston (LAB)
The Live Arts Boston (LAB) program will provide up to $15,000 in flexible, project-specific support to artists in dance, theater, spoken word, performance art, circus arts, some music genres, and inter- or multi-disciplinary combinations. Priority will be given to projects that emphasize new work, culturally-specific work, unique and interdisciplinary partnerships/collaborations, or risk-taking and innovative programming. The launch date is September 30, 2016, and the deadline will be November 15, 2016, 5 PM EST.

The Boston Cultural Council’s Opportunity Fund
The Opportunity Fund is designed to support individual artists living or working in Boston to “share their work with the public or teach others, continue professional development, and hone their skills.” Applications for grants up to $1,000 will be accepted on a monthly basis. Artists can apply here, and grants will be distributed every month except October and April, when other Boston Cultural Council grants applications are due.


If you have a program to benefit Massachusetts artists that you’d like us to share, we’re all ears.

Media: excerpt from CLOTHESLINE AS LIVE INSTRUMENT by Dahlia Nayar (Choreography Fellow ’16), a past recipient of support from NEFA’s dance initiatives.

Inspiration and Interpretation: Sally Taylor’s Consenses Project

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

From an exhibit of the CONSENSES project

When artist and musician Sally Taylor was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, she needed a way to decode words and information beyond language. Her mother (musician Carly Simon) encouraged games of metaphor and perspective. Years later, these same tenets drive her project Consenses, an artistic game of “Telephone” that has engaged artists from around the world, of every medium and genre.

The latest podcast in MCC’s Creative Minds Out Loud series features Taylor in conversation with MCC Executive Director Anita Walker, exploring how the project opens up new perspectives about the world around us. What is the nature of inspiration? How do we as humans interpret and translate our inspiration? Listen to the discussion.

Creative Minds Out Loud is the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s (MCC) podcast featuring informative and lively conversations with arts and culture leaders. Recent episodes feature Diane Quinn of the American Repertory Theater, Laura Jasinski of the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, and Jane Chu of the National Endowment for the Arts. Listen and subscribe now.

Image: from an exhibition of the CONSENSES project, which debuted in Martha’s Vineyard in 2014.

Mapping Technology and Art-Making

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

From the Smithsonian Libraries Tumblr

The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) hosts a Nonprofit Arts Community of Practice, a place where people working at the intersection of the nonprofit arts sector and technology can share ideas, resources, and anything else that comes to mind.

Next call: September 22, 2015 at 2pm ET

How is mapping technology informing the narrative of art-making and ownership?

Join NTEN’s Nonprofit Arts Community of Practice for a conversation with arts organizations utilizing mapping technology on September 22 at 2pm ET (11am PT).

Learn about how Carnegie Museum of Art makes its provenance accessible and interactive and hear from HowlRound about their New Play Map, establishing new narratives about who theatermakers are and about how new theater and artists get supported.

Jamie M. Gahlon, Senior Creative Producer, HowlRound
Neil Kulas, Web & Digital Media Manager, Carnegie Museum of Art
Brad Stephenson, Director of Marketing, Carnegie Museum of Art

Join the call:

Optional dial in number: 866-853-1888 (No PIN needed)

Learn more about the Community of Practice’s conversations to date.

NTEN Communities of Practice center on themes that reflect both a specific programmatic focus and an ongoing opportunity for growth. They are supported by volunteer community organizers who agree to nurture and ignite conversation and engagement. You do not need to be a member of NTEN to participate.

The NTEN NonProfit Arts Community of Practice is a place to launch discussions, pose questions, share ideas and tools, and interact with others. To participate, create an NTEN profile and join the NonProfit Arts Community of Practice (which includes discussion board, event listings, resource libraries, etc.).

To connect on Twitter, use the hashtag #nptecharts

Image: gif from the Smithsonian Libraries Tumblr.

MCC Budget Update

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

You may have seen the news that the proposed increase to the arts and cultural sector through the MCC’s FY16 budget was vetoed last week. The House and Senate have the opportunity to override the veto and restore the proposed increase of $2 million dollars, bringing the state’s investment in arts and culture to $14 million for FY16. You can help make that happen. Contact your State Representative and your Senator this week. Let them know:
• You support an override of the veto to the MCC’s budget (0640-0300)
• It is urgent to pass an override as soon as possible so that FY16 grants to your community are not delayed

You can look up your legislator’s contact information here, or you can use MASSCreative’s advocacy platform.

Thanks for all your advocacy,
The ArtSake staff

Get Ahead Artist Opportunities

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


Get your head in the game and take advantage of these upcoming opportunities.

Of Note Spark! Networking Event at Sohn Fine Art in Lenox, MA. Register now for the first SPARK! networking event of the year, held at Sohn Fine Art in conjunction with the 4th Annual Juried Photography Exhibition benefiting Berkshire Creative. Meet other creatives working in the region, make connections, get inspired, and learn something new – all against the backdrop of beautiful and thought-provoking photography. Free, but please register.
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 5:30-7:30pm


Emerging, Diverse Writers HBO has announced the launch of the HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. The program will give emerging writers from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to attend a week of master classes held at the HBO campus in Santa Monica, California focusing on character and story development, pitching ideas and projects, securing an agent, and networking. Each participant will then enter into an 8-month writing phase where he/she will be paired with an HBO development executive and guided through the script development process. Apply using Learn more.
Deadline: Application portal opens March 4, 2015 and will close when 1,000 submissions have been reached.

Poets of African Descent The Cave Canem Foundation is accepting applications for its Poetry Prize, an award of $1000 and publication by Graywolf Press of a first poetry collection by a poet of African descent. Nikky Finney will judge. $15 entry fee. Learn more.
Deadline: March 9, 2015

First Novel Award The James Jones Literary Society of Wilkes University offers the First Novel Fellowship, a prize of $10,000 for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not yet published a novel. Past recipients include Cam Terwilliger. $30 entry fee. Learn more.
Deadline: March 15, 2015

Temporary Public Art Fort Points Arts Community (FPAC) seeks proposals for a temporary public art installation in conjunction with FPAC’s May 2015 Open Studios. Projects may be proposed for any outdoor site in the Fort and should be accessible to Open Studios viewers as well as the general public. All media considered, one month minimum duration. Q&A session for applicants Monday, March 9, 2015, at FPAC Gallery. Learn more.
Deadline: March 19, 2015

New Music New Music USA is accepting applications for its Spring 2015 Project Grants. The grants support projects that involve new music getting out into the world through a live performance or recording. Awards can range between $250 and $15,000. Projects can take place up to two years past the deadline or up to six months prior. Requests can come from individuals or organizations. Learn more.
Deadline: April 1, 2015

Forest Artist Residency Artists in all media are invited to apply for the 2015 White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) Artist-in-Residence program, a collaboration between the WMNF and the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire. The residency program seeks to use art and creative expression to explore the many ways in which people relate to forests in general and to the WMNF in particular. One residency opportunity of at least three weeks will be offered between July and September; the artist(s) selected will be able to indicate their preferred time. Learn more.
Deadline: April 17, 2015

Documentaries The Sundance Documentary Fund provides strategic financial support to cinematic, feature documentaries from independent filmmakers globally. The organization provides $1M-$2M in non-recoupable financing annually across all stages of development, production, post-production, and strategic audience engagement. Learn more.
Deadline: Applications accepting on a rolling basis until August 3, 2015

Image: vintage poster of American magician Harry Kellar, from Weird Vintage.

Literary District in Boston

Friday, August 22nd, 2014


Good news, word-lovers:

This week the Massachusetts Cultural Council voted to approve the Literary Cultural District in Boston – the second state-designated cultural district in Boston and the nation’s first cultural district dedicated to literary activity. The effort to create the district was spearheaded by Eve Bridburg of the literary service organization GrubStreet. GrubStreet’s offices reside in the district, which “runs from Copley Square to Downtown Boston and is also home to the Boston Athenaeum, Boston Public Library, and the annual Boston Book Festival.”

Read more about the district.

Media: “Read any good books lately?” by Challenger23.

Artists on How They Get By

Monday, June 30th, 2014

On June 4, 2014, a group of artists are convened at Lesley University in Cambridge for an event called How We Get By, about the realities and struggles of artists’ financial lives.

Tim Devin, one of the event organizers and a past guest blogger for ArtSake on copyright issues, has written this guest post about what transpired on June 4 and where the “getting by” conversation is headed next.

How do artists make a living in our increasingly-expensive city? That’s something Jason Pramas, Matt Kaliner, and I started talking about recently. Artists don’t really like to talk about how they make money, since it usually has very little to do with their creative work. They avoid the issue for a variety of reasons, but the largest one is that they want to project an image of being a successful artist, and the current notion of what a successful artist is involves making money from your work.

This situation, of course, creates a number of problems. If you don’t know how other people get by, then you’ll never know about other ways you could be doing it yourself. And since people don’t like to share the fact that they often subsidize their creative work with money earned from day jobs, then it’s never clear how effective the standard grant and gallery systems are at supporting the region’s creative output financially. And perhaps most importantly, it leaves unexamined the assumption that successful art is defined by the revenue it generates.

Jason, Matt and I thought it might be good to get a group of artists get together, and share information on how they get by. We felt that having people speak publicly about this would raise these issues nicely, and get people talking about changes that could be made, and about other ways to get by as an artist in Boston.

We were lucky enough to get a raft of amazing people to speak, each with a different viewpoint and approach to making ends meet. Artists included Andi Sutton, Coelynn McIninch, Dave Ortega, Dirk Adams, Emily Garfield, Greg Cook, Heather Kapplow, and Shea Justice. Two of us organizers, Jason Pramas and myself, also spoke. We also invited Melinda Cross, who is involved in an artist housing coop to talk about that as an option, and Gregory Jenkins, who is the executive director of the Somerville Arts Council. Matt Kaliner moderated the discussion.

Lesley University hosted the event, and almost 100 people came to learn about other ways of getting by. Ho Yin Au and Ellien Laramee-Byers were the photographers. Ironically – or tellingly – since we couldn’t get a budget, everyone involved (photographers, speakers, and us organizers alike) worked as volunteers.

Getting by
The discussion was pretty wide-ranging. One issue that kept coming up was juggling paid work with creative work.

Andi Sutton, who works at a local university, said that she came to terms with the need for a day job early on, and now views herself as having two careers. She said that she is lucky to have an understanding boss, who affords her a certain amount of flexibility when she needs to do something for her art. Far from being a barrier, Shea Justice spoke about working as an art teacher as a benefit to his creative work. He draws energy from his kids, and often goes to museums on field trips. Both talked about the benefits of stable jobs.

But many of us exist in more precarious ways. Dirk Adams, who installs art shows, spoke about how unsteady his jobs are — opportunities often come up at the same time, forcing him to choose one over the others, after long dry spells of no income. He said that having to hustle for paid work draws energy away from his creative work. Heather Kapplow goes through cycles where she works a lot and saves up, and then works freelance sparingly and tries to keep as much of her time for her art. She said that a few scheduled freelance projects fell through recently without much warning, forcing her to make some difficult choices.

Jason Pramas, who is 47, told us that he had started working at 16, but had only been able to find a steady full-time job for six of those years. I read a statement from an anonymous artist/musician who is lucky enough to own her own two-family house, but can’t afford decent health care on her intermittent income from her creative work and the money she gets from renting her upstairs unit. She worries about what will happen to her as she ages and incurs more medical expenses.

Which touches on one of the central themes of the night: frustration. Frustrations with the economy in general, with the area’s high cost of living, and with the art world. Greg Cook pointed out that so much of the existing art system doesn’t work for you if you have a job. For instance, who can afford to do residencies? They involve traveling somewhere, and not working a paying job for weeks if not months on end, in exchange for space to create but very little financial compensation. Heather Kapplow said that since she does conceptual art, she has difficulty making money off of her work, since there are few mechanisms to support conceptual art financially. Personally, my work has never been a big income-generator, so I tend to make things inexpensively so I can keep doing what I want to do. But I worry what would happen if I wanted to branch out and make other kinds of art — would I be able to afford it?

Other speakers shared how they cope with the high costs of living in the area. Dave Ortega and Greg Cook both talked about personal thrift as a way to get by. For example, Dave spoke of his own “Thoreau-inspired lifestyle” which includes sharing a small apartment, and not owning a car. But the region is consistently listed as one of the most expensive places to live in, and rents keep going up, so these solutions may be only temporary. Dave, who lives in Somerville near the proposed Green Line extension, wondered how much longer he’ll be able to afford living there. Coelynn McIninch suggested people consider Fitchburg as an alternative, and told us about the area’s affordable apartments and studio spaces.

Mutual aid is another good way to cut expenses. Melinda Cross spoke about the two coops she’s involved in: a long-standing residential coop, and a relatively new papermaking coop she formed. Both help participants save money, while at the same time building strong bonds that can be called on when you need support from others. Coelynn told us that she often trades her photography services with other artists when she needs their help. She said you don’t have to be best friends with people you exchange help with, which provides for more exchanges, since you’re not limited by your friendship circles. The audience loved this idea, and during the discussion portion someone floated the idea of a website where artists could offer and exchange services. Jason talked about the need for creative workers to organize in their own political and economic self-interest—pointing to the Boston Visual Artists Union of the 1970s as a relevant historical model.

Underlying a lot of these issues is the notion of identity. In a culture where who you are is often gauged by how you earn your keep, this places people who identify as artists but don’t make much money at it in a tricky situation. Coelynn took this issue head on by saying point blank “Never apologize for what you have to do to make your art possible,” a statement that brought on a round of applause — showing that the artists in the room were concerned about validation as much as they were about economics.

Greg Jenkins ended the night by speaking from the perspective of an arts organization. He stressed that artists needed to prove why communities should support them. He pointed out that a lot of this discussion stems from bigger problems – the economy, the recession, the art world. He suggested that artists identify specific problems, and work with arts organizations on solving them; “that’s what we’re here for,” he said.

The night raised a number of issues, the most important being how little money is in the art system right now. A lot of people said that they were both surprised and reassured to learn that so many artists are in the same boat as they are. Many said that they always assumed other artists were doing a lot better financially, and that they themselves just needed to try harder, or catch the right breaks, to make it. Creative people often do things for free to build their CVs, but as we learned, even artists who show internationally don’t really make much money. This is something we might want to reexamine.

The question then becomes: what do we do with all of this information? The day after the event, we organizers set up a group page on Facebook to discuss the event. Over 200 people joined immediately, and started a lively discussion. People shared dozens of articles and thoughts and ideas on how to change things.

This energy led to a second meeting, also at Lesley, on June 25th, to determine if people wanted to start an artist-led organization. Over 40 people showed up, and the 2 ½ hour discussion ranged from reexamining the role of the artist in the community, to talks about alternative economics; from tips on the best way to pressure politicians, to talks about housing and grants, and ideas on alternative venues and ways of reaching people.

A third meeting is being planned for July 16th, to discuss what kind of organization or organizations everyone involved wants to form. There don’t seem to be any hard answers right now — or rather, there are dozens of views about what the problems actually are, so having everyone agree on an answer is moot — but the questions being raised are exciting. While no one questions the support we all get from existing arts organizations, the spirit in the air seems to be that maybe the missing element is something that we artists can do for ourselves, if we band together. Maybe by banding together, we can all figure out another way to get by.

Further research:
How to find funding as a Massachusetts individual artist
What makes for a good day job as an artist?

Tim Devin‘s projects deal with community and social change. His work has been included in art and urbanist shows across the US, Canada, and Europe, and have been featured in such news sources as NPR, CBC and, more locally, the Boston Globe. He’s the chair of the board of the Somerville Arts Council, which is part of MCC’s local cultural council network.

Images: Tim Devin, Andi Sutton, Heather Kapplow, Dirk Adams, Dave Ortega, Melinda Cross, Gregory Jenkins, Emily Garfield, photo by Ho Yin Au; Andi Sutton, Heather Kapplow, Dirk Adams, Dave Ortega, Melinda Cross, Gregory Jenkins, Emily Garfield, Greg Cook, Shea Justice, Jason Pramas. Standing on right: Tim Devin, Matt Kaliner. Photo by Ho Yin Au; Jason Pramas, photo by Ho Yin Au; Dave Ortega, Melinda Cross, Gregory Jenkins, Emily Garfield, Greg Cook, photo by Ellien Laramee-Byers; Shea Justice, Coelynn McIninch, photo by Ho Yin Au; Dave Ortega, Melinda Cross, Gregory Jenkins, Emily Garfield, Greg Cook, photo by Ellien Laramee-Byers.

How We Get By

Monday, June 2nd, 2014


How do artists earn their living? How do they support their creative endeavors? Do they support themselves via their art alone, or augmented by other work?

In short: How do artists get by?

A group of artists are convening at Lesley University in Cambridge on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 7 PM, to discuss these very questions. The event is free and open to all.

More about How We Get By:

A dozen invited artists will share information on their income sources, living costs, and how this affects their creative work. Representatives of artist coops and art organizations will also be on hand to put their two cents in. Members of the audience will be welcome to share their experiences as well, and add to the discussion on how we can all learn to get by better.

Artist-speakers will include:

Dave Ortega
Dirk Adams
Emily Garfield
Heather Kapplow
Jason Pramas
Melinda Cross
Shea Justice
Tim Devin
Andi Sutton
Greg Cook

Representatives from a number of arts organizations (such as the Somerville Arts Council) will be on hand to discuss their grants and their views on how artists can get by.

This event is put together by Matt Kaliner, Jason Pramas, and Tim Devin.

Wed., June 4, 2014
7-9 p.m.
University Commons
University Hall basement (take stairs next to the Lesley University bookstore down)
Lesley University
1815 Mass. Ave.
Porter Square, Cambridge, MA

Learn more.

Image: photo documentation of Remnant Sale, a collaborative installation/performance by Heather Kapplow with Sandrine Shaefer. Photo by Elaine Thap.

Gifted & Talented Artist Opportunities

Friday, December 6th, 2013

And you thought YOU had skills!

Of Note Grant workshop for nonfiction filmmakers. Join the LEF Foundation team on December 11 at 6:30PM for a free grant workshop hosted by the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. LEF Program Director Sara Archambault will conduct the workshop at MassArt. This event is free and open to the public. Potential applicants can learn about LEF’s basic guidelines and requirements, watch samples from recently funded LEF films, hear about LEF’s new online submission process, and enjoy some free snacks and conversation. RSVP to LEF Program Assistant Genevieve Carmel at Learn more.

Sculptors Calling all sculptors! The Arts & Business Council is seeking sculpture of extraordinary quality to show in prominent corporate exhibitions in the Boston area. Honoraria is offered for works accepted in the exhibition. Artists can submit works for review using an online form. Details and application. Questions? Contact Lia O’Donnell at
Deadline: Rolling

Arts Festival The 2014 Melrose Arts Festival (Friday, April 25-Sunday, April 27, 2014) accepts Fine Art and Fine Craft in all media including painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, drawing, assemblage/mixed media, wood, clay, metal and glass. The three day festival is an exhibition and sale features original fine arts and fine crafts by over 40 juried artist exhibitors from Melrose and surrounding areas. All displayed art will be for sale throughout the three opening days. All work must be handmade and the original design of the artist. Submit a CD with three jpgs of your work, along with a brief list with descriptions of your samples and $10 submission fee. Learn more.
Deadline: December 14, 2013

Writers PEN American Literary Awards offers a range of prestigious prizes in fiction, nonfiction, science writing, playwriting, sports writing, biography, books by authors of color, children’s, young adult, and picture books, poetry, translations, and editing. Learn more.
Deadline: December 16, 2013

Large-scale collaborative Projects Beam Camp is seeking proposals for projects from Engineers, Architects, Designers, Sculptors, Builders, Chefs, Agriculturists, Videographers, Technologists, Artists and Makers of all kinds. You supply the vision and plan. Beam will supply 100+ energetic campers and staff and 700+ acres of forest, mountain and lakes as studio, canvas and workshop. Every year Beam commissions unique projects that serve as centerpieces of each Beam session. Beam Camp is a 8-week summer program comprised of two sessions for kids aged 7-17 in Strafford, New Hampshire. Learn more.
Deadline: January 12, 2014

Visual Arts Fellowships Applications are now being accepted for visual arts Fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. The Fellowships provide an opportunity for emerging artists to spend seven months working at their Cape Cod facility. Each year, ten fellowships are awarded to visual artists (applications from writers and poets were due December 1). Learn more.
Deadline: February 1, 2014