by Tanya Lenti for Albuquerque Business First
In March of this year, the City of Albuquerque’s Cultural Services and Economic Development departments launched Tipping Points for Creatives, an initiative to connect local musicians, visual and performing artists, artisans, and other creative entrepreneurs to resources, insight, and services that will help them get to the next level and make a sustainable living doing what they love. It was met by the creative community with a warm reception as more than 500 local artists filled out a questionnaire and indicated they were interested in participating.
“This new program is in-line with this administration’s Economic Development Plan as it relates to elevating the local creative economy,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Tipping Points will help local artists, by an Increment of One, by matching them with available resources.”
The first phase of the program prioritized research and development. Through the questionnaires, the City of Albuquerque worked to understand the challenges and barriers facing creators as they seek to propel sustainable and thriving artistic practices in Albuquerque and beyond. Of the 528 respondents, 41% are visual artists, 38% identify as an artisan, and 28% are performance artists. The questionnaire’s data reflected that the top two pressing issues are financial resources and marketing and promotion.
In May 2019, 13 artists were invited to pilot a holistic process that led them to refine challenge areas and identify opportunities. As artists reflected with peer advisors, they also defined steps to propel them to their next tipping point. This initial convening not only connected the 13 artists with ideas and resources, but also connected them to each other.
Moving forward, the City of Albuquerque will expand its capacity to provide expertise, tools, and resources to support artists and creative entrepreneurs; develop meaningful partnerships with organizations and related entities to provide greater resources to artists; create more intentional communities for artists to gather and learn from each other; determine noteworthy patterns and trends from the many vehicles for data-gathering; and elevate the creative economy in Albuquerque.
The city plans to achieve these ambitions first by supporting the ecosystem with investments to partnering organizations so they can impact a larger group of creatives through their proven programs and diverse networks. The city is currently working with more than a dozen partnering organizations including Keshet Center for the Arts, Harwood Art Center, CNM, Women Leading Change, and Fractured Atlas. And secondly, the city hopes to address programmatic and professional development gaps and make non-monetary investments in Albuquerque-based artists via one-on-one resource matching, larger gatherings, and new, innovative solutions.
“We’re reaching out to local artists who have, at one time, reached one or more powerful tipping points in their own creative careers to help us shape this initiative,” said Shelle Sanchez, Ph.D., director of the Cultural Services Department. “Feedback from each stage will impact the continuous improvement of the initiative.”
In late November, the city and partnering organizations will hold two in-person gatherings engaging 50 to 100 artists around their most pressing needs and potential tipping point regarding their creative practice. Artists will participate in small-group clinics to determine and fine-tune their challenges and identify actionable ways to move forward.
The gatherings will be professional development opportunities to support artists with new ideas and strategies while strengthening the connections among fellow artists, creatives, and organizations from all backgrounds and disciplines.
If you are interested in becoming a Tipping Points for Creatives partnering organization or if you would like to participate in the November gatherings, please contact Dafina McMillan and firstname.lastname@example.org.