14 Stories: Building Stronger Communities by Supporting American Artists
This publication, a snapshot of the cohort of LINC’s 14 Creative Communities, chronicles the ways that the six domains of the Investing in Creativity study were being pursued in a variety of cultural, geographic, demographic, and economic circumstances. The report reflects upon LINC’s earliest ambitions and how those plans were playing out in community laboratories at the halfway point of LINC’s decade of existence. It delves deeply into each community’s specific circumstances, resource allocation, and strategies, and candidly assesses those communities whose efforts did not meet their original expectations.
As the active Creative Communities continue to develop their programs around the domains that have framed their efforts from the beginning, other ways of thinking about their issues also merit attention. For example, a number of themes run through the 14 stories and offer other angles on the challenges of implementation and on the interplay between artists and the organizations working with them. Each theme raises a question for further exploration in the months ahead:
Transformation and Adaptability
What will transformation look like in each community, and is adaptability the gradual process of getting there?
Infrastructure and Capacity
Will the work in the Creative Communities leave behind a better, lasting infrastructure and increased capacity?
Community Support and Market Demand
Is community support for artists ultimately only as strong as the impact it has on the marketplace?
What degree of diversity has been achieved in your Creative Communities program and what more do you anticipate?
How can we encourage reciprocal partnerships based on parity in the stakes held, the effort invested, and the benefits realized?
Risk-Taking and Risk Capital
Where will the needed risk capital come from post-LINC?
These themes (and there may be others) cut across programs and transcend boundaries. For example, the willingness to take calculated risks—to make a “big bet” even at the community level—has proven to be essential from site to site. One need only look at the extraordinary commitment to the CAR initiative on the part of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs; the bold thinking reflected in Artists Trust’s pursuit of adequate health insurance for artists; the investment in rigorous professional development training in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and South Carolina; the efforts to get funding directly into the hands of individual artists in New York and San Francisco; the success of funding partners in Massachusetts in developing live-work space for artists; the wide sweep, both geographic and cultural, of initiatives in Montana and the Northern Plains; and the gambles taken in the midst of structural change in the Greater DC region and Houston.