ArtSpark is excited to launch its brand-spanking-new Arts Listening Project (ArtsLP) in the New Year, 2013.  Yeehaw!

ArtSpark is out to discover what artists + sustainability truly means and how it translates into effective action and positive outcomes for art in communities.  ArtSpark will facilitate a series of participatory dialogues/discussions in New Mexico and California (ArtSpark is located in ABQ) with different key individuals and stakeholder groups:  artists, arts and culture organizations, arts supporters, patrons, community members, grassroots and official leaders, etc.  After we’ve collected and analyzed data to identify themes and variations, the project will continue in an online space.

Why are we asking questions about how artists are (and can be!) sustained and supported?  Skills and strategies that sustain artists are essential for creative strength and longevity.  This equation does, of course, include arts organizations that show/present artistic work, provide artists with skills, plus advocate on behalf of artists and the arts.

The word sustain means “to supply with necessities and support” and “to provide with nourishment.”  Yet there is little consensus among different stakeholders and groups around how “sustaining artists” creates a valuable, rich, diverse and reliable arts ecosystem within a community.

ArtSpark has discovered in listening to 150+ artists/arts organizations, arts supporters, patrons and community members that the word sustainability, when related specifically to artists, can mean very different things to different people.  ArtSpark sees patterns that are worth pursuing, like social media for audience development/engagement, bartering and exchange, online crowdfunding, and affordable housing, studio space and health insurance.  However, to learn more we need to collect more data, allowing for the wisdom of the community to shine through.

A question for you, dear reader:  “What does sustaining artists mean to YOU?”  We welcome your comments and hope that this conversation continues to engage…