Together with artist Yumna Al-Arashi, Brandon Stosuy (TCI’s Editor in Chief), and the rest of the TCI team, we’ve initiated a survey to collect information from visual artists about their path towards financial stability.
Yumna wrote this about the undertaking in a recent newsletter (her newsletters are exceptional, by the way—you should subscribe!):
The Art World is one of the last systems to be tackled by our beautiful revolutions of transparency that are currently happening in so many other worlds. And I feel people are too afraid jeopardize their careers to speak up about it, since so much of our Artist Self is reliant on the people we project ourselves to be. And, The Art World hates whiners. Unless they’re dead and we can exploit them and sell their art.
I reached out to my friends Brandon Stosuy and Willa Koerner of The Creative Independent with my frustrations. They interview hundreds of artists, and work on many brilliant projects that support artists. So I thought they’d have some sort of solution, or answer, or magic key to my problem. But they didn’t. So we’ve decided to find one, together.
I believe positive change comes from the transparency to know what it is that needs to change. Our culture is largely uncomfortable with speaking openly about finances, and I believe this has helped to feed gaps between the wealthy and poor.
We made an anonymous survey to find out who/what/where/when is and isn’t working for working visual artists. We want to create that transparency, to put it into solid data, so that we can put it out into the world and to make it obvious as fuck. We’ll be publishing everything we find, and handing it out for the world to see. And hopefully, encouraging that positive change I previously mentioned.
There’s little left to deny when publishing things into easy and obvious data sets and presenting it to the world, instead of just complaining all day long with no real desire to push action because you’re afraid of ruining your reputation.
My reputation can’t be damaged by real statistics.”
As Yumna so eloquently puts it, today’s “Art” World does not seem to be functioning in the best possible way. Its structures are inherited from an older world, and there is little evidence or public information regarding how these systems are helping—or perhaps even hurting—artists. So, we decided to create an anonymous survey to collect feedback about these systems from the artists themselves. We will release the collected information as an open data set that anyone can make use of, hoping that, ultimately, emerging artists can learn from the collected wisdom, and we can all come together to evolve the structures of the Art World in positive directions. We’ll also be using the results of the survey to plan future TCI resources, conversations, and undertakings.
If you are a visual artist, I’d love for you to participate by taking the survey! And if you’re not an artist, please help me spread the word. We’re aiming to collect 1,000 survey responses, and as of writing this, we’re just over a quarter of the way there (see a live response counter here).