Creatives Rebuild NY Guaranteed Income AWARD WINNER
I'm still processing what this new opportunity means. I'm still reconciling this achievement with my inner critic. On Friday, April 15 I received the email at 8:59pm congratulating me on having been pre-selected to receive $1,000 a month for the next 18 months to support my work in the local arts culture here in Broome County. I literally spent all day refreshing my email, looking for this email. I spent weeks focusing on what it would be like to be selected for this. There were moments of doubt, but I've learned enough about the law of attraction at this point to know how to keep my mind in the right place.
The application itself was quite simple. I've seen some (rejected) applicants call the application process"rigorous", which I firmly disagree with--considering I've submitted grant applications that have required insane amounts of research and budget proposals, that require all kinds of documents, clearance levels and community support. This application took all of 15-20 minutes to complete on Submittable.com, where no special forms needed to be uploaded, there were very few type boxes for long responses and literally any Tom, Dick or Sherry could apply (which is also getting a little bit of backlash from rejected applicants). Apparently, the rejection letter called the selection process "weighted" and "randomized"--but it was made clear that there was an intention to prioritize artists that have historically lacked access to systematic support.
There were over 22,000 artists and culture makers who submitted their personal information on this application, and only 10% of us were selected for this historic opportunity. One nationally renowned creative Place-Maker, Kady Yellow (currently the Sr. Director of Placemaking in Jacksonville, Fl), said to me "Please journal the whole time!...Researchers will want primary resources in 100 years. I fought more than a decade to get artists paid and NEVER knew I'd see this day. Covid forced change." I know Covid forced change for me, in my life, as a creative. And I know that New York State wouldn't be what it is today without Creative Place-makers and artists who have the time, space and access to the physical resources they need to create community.
It's been a little over 48 hours since the Creatives Rebuild NY program announced who will and who will not be receiving the funding and applicants across the state are having a very wide variety of reactions. Many of the artists, rejected or otherwise, are curious what will be done with all of the personal information they provided via Submittable.com, others criticized the selection process because "white" artists were selected saying "POC" artists weren't really prioritized (without having any awareness on the POC artists who WERE selected), some are ready to fundraise with other artists who were rejected and some are genuinely shocked and proud of themselves for putting themselves out there and being selected. I've seen the local shade as well, but I'll be kind and hold off on name dropping for now.
It seems like many of the rejected applicants really want to know who received the funding, to "check" the artists who were selected. Some even say that "artistic merit" or the size of the "income generated" by an artist's work should be considered in the selection process. These recommendations obviously neglect to recognize that many of the applicants (and recipients) have HISTORICALLY LACKED ACCESS to these "merits" and sources of income--and that is the exact basis of why this initiative exists. 2,400 awards to offer to 22,000 applicants and I can see why some artists who were selected might want to keep this particular win private. Ego has never been at the root of my work, but it's clear that the ego of some artists has been wounded by this process. It makes me question if those artists are truly prepared to help REBUILD NY...
I'm still processing what this means for me as an artist, as a culture maker, as a New Yorker who loves to be a New Yorker and who has already begun this process of rebuilding--regardless of the negative public responses. I have HUGE plans for this funding, and while I have some immediate needs that will be addressed (like fucking health insurance and maybe getting my fucking teeth fixed), I'm already consulting with local arts organizations to discuss collaborations and mutually beneficial projects that will be supported, in part, by this funding. My efforts are based in Broome County, but this summer I am already slated to be a part of multiple regional collaborations throughout Binghamton, Ithaca and Syracuse. I've already started multiple conversations with place-makers, artists and other movers & shakers on projects that will not only revitalize the local artists community, but also stimulate the local economy here in Broome County.
So friends, stay tuned...I've been witnessing many of my thoughts turning to things these last 2 years and I have no intention of stopping now. Many thanks for the support and the congratulations. Like Kady Yellow recommended, I'll be journaling here a lot more about this process and the behind-the-scenes of it all. Cant fucking wait!!!