Art.coop thanks you for a transformative 2022!
Published on December 20, 2022 by Sruti Suryanarayanan
2022 has been a year of growth for our Art.coop family, and as we reflect on everything we’ve been able to do this year, our hearts are with you -- our dear community members -- for your support of Art.coop and your advocacy for a solidarity economy with artists and culture workers at the center.
TL;DR: in 2021 Art.coop was born. Art.coop exists to support artists and culture bearers who are fed up with our current system of exploitation in the cultural sector and who know there is a better way to work that actually values creative people.
The year 2022 was about growing a team and creating a shared narrative — with a conference track, a podcast with YBCA, the launch of two self-paced classes with CreativeStudy, a toolkit with Springboard for the Arts (launching summer 2023), and moving money to creatives with Grantmakers in the Arts.
2023 is about connecting creatives to resist exploitation in the arts and strengthen the movement for community-control of the value we create. We can build the cultural economy we want, without bosses, landlords, or extraction, together! There is an alternative to exploitation, isolation, and fear. Join us in building cooperative, connected, and care-based futures for creatives.
Artists are workers.
We work together to resist exploitation and create jobs, housing, and resource exchanges that value artists as whole people.
We join the Solidarity Economy movement as we fire our bosses, free the land, and elect ourselves in the arts and beyond.
We are empowered change-makers who actively choose the lives we want to lead.
We can live our values and do joyful work that pays the bills.
At the end of 2021, we heard from you all that there was indeed a need for us to hold Art.coop as a multi-year project (you can read more about this here). After the intensity of last year’s Study-into-Action program, we invited you to share with us what you felt the role of creatives like ourselves was in emboldening the embrace of arts and culture in Solidarity Economy movements across the globe. We heard that many of you wanted a space that educated and resourced artists and culture bearers about the Solidarity Economy, connecting creatives to each other, and amplifying their work in building cultures of change. We also heard that many of you wanted us to work with institutions and foundations to impart a culture of resource redistribution towards arts and culture workers within the Solidarity Economy. It’s this focus that we’ve built momentum with through 2022 -- read our recap to learn more about Art.coop’s past year.
In the winter, Art.coop…
Image from Grantmakers in the Arts
- Built and led a Move the Money educational series with the national network of arts and culture funders called Grantmakers in the Arts, bringing community anchors and experts such as Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Daniel Park, Carlos Uriona, Aisha Shillingford, and Carlton Turner into discussions with grantmakers to explore how philanthropic institutions could change their cultures of giving to be transformative, redistributive, and in increasing alignment with Solidarity Economy principles. We saw that efforts to intentionally and consistently build relationships between grantmakers and artists and culture bearers embodying solidarity economy principles in their communities led to several groups in the ecosystem receiving meaningful multi-year funding that has allowed them to grow their offerings — more on that below. Watch Move The Money discussions, including a 2021 session with organizers at East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative (EB PREC) here!
Image from Caroline Woolard
- Collaborated with Study-into-Action facilitator, Sonia Erika, to begin growing narrative and communications work on social media, continuing the work of Art.coop co-organizer Nati Linares. We now regularly reach around 5,000 followers across Instagram and Twitter. Check out our storytelling and educational work via our Instagram and Twitter, including original memes like “What if Beyonce made a solidarity economy toolkit for ‘Break My Soul’!
In the spring, Art.coop...
Logo by Emma Werowinski
- Kick-started a collaboration with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) to create Remember the Future, a podcast that builds interest in the Solidarity Economy movement, connects people to Solidarity Economy practices they can activate today, and educates funders about the value of community control of culture. Over the summer, we worked with our friends at Meerkat Media Cooperative to produce the podcast, which features Obvious Agency, Guilded, U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Double Edge Theatre, Ohketeau Cultural Center, and Boston Ujima Project. Starting on January 18th, listen to Remember the Future anywhere you get your podcasts!
Designed by Emma Werowinski
- Grew our team to a four-person family by hiring Sruti Suryanarayanan and began paying two of our four core organizers with salaries for the first time. Learn more about what our emergent approach to Solidarity-centric employment at Art.coop looks like for us here and listen to us talk about money and work on a podcast produced by Creative Time!
In the summer, Art.coop…
Designed by Manuel Miranda and researched by Dan Taeyoung and Luana Marques Soares
- Began researching models for a member directory that we will use to map, connect, and support culture-centric Solidarity Economy movements, practices, and organizations across the country, alongside community anchor Andrea Jacome. With the support of the Hewlett Foundation, Art.coop will be spending 2023 expanding this scope to understand how our communities would use such a directory and accordingly build a platform that can serve as soil for solidarity. Read some of what we researched (building upon the report that launched our work, with research additions from Ebony Gustave) here!
Image from Sruti Suryanarayanan
- Kick-started a collaboration with CreativeStudy (formerly Art World Learning) to develop a series of online learning modules that explain the key practices of the Solidarity Economy and articulate their applications in creative practices for emerging artists. Through the production of these educational tools, we gathered feedback from community anchors Sylvia Atwood, Heather Bhandari, Julia Clark, Rice Gallardo, Hope Ghazala, Andrea Jacome, Mei Kazama, Emilie Miyauchi, Francisco Pérez, Eddie Torres, Cheyenna Weber, Dexter Wimberly. In late summer, we gathered with our friends at Meerkat Media Cooperative again to produce short films for the series; these videos feature educators Rad Pereira, Ebony Gustave, and Mike Strode walking through and exploring the work of O+ Festival, Wow Cafe Theater, and Cooper Square Committee. Keep your eyes on CreativeStudy to watch our learning modules release in January 2023 here!
Image from the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives
- Organized conference panels specifically exploring arts and culture in solidarity economy with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) and Guilded for the 2022 Allied Media Conference, 2022 U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives Conference.coop, and the 2022 Grantmakers in the Arts Conference.
We also had the chance to present at: Documenta, where Caroline spoke on a panel called “Exploring New Models of Care Taking for Funding the Ecosystem" that was facilitated by Mi You, Arthur Steiner, and Lauren Agosta; AFIELD #3: Let's Share, where Caroline spoke in Kassel, Germany; at CreativeStudy, where Nati, Marina, and Sruti led a Q&A; the International Cooperative Alliance, where Caroline spoke at "Cooperatives in the Creative Sector" as a panelist, with Yvon Jadoul, Francesca Martinelli, Rebecca Harvey, Amrul Hakim, moderated by Iñigo Albizuri; the International Cooperative Alliance CCR European Research COnference, where Caroline spoke on a panel with Santosh Kumar and Francesca Martinelli on “Supporting Arts and Safeguarding Culture: Role of Cooperatives as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”; and so many more. Check out our AMC presentation here, our Conference.coop line-up here, and our GIA materials here!
In the fall, Art.coop...
Image from Marina Lopez and Sruti Suryanarayanan
- Studied Solidarity Economy movements in and outside of the United States / Turtle Island to understand how struggles in different arts sectors and different geographies are tied to our own. In September, Marina and Sruti led a workshop at Goddard College to collectively learn with students in their residency program, using practices from the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and Marina’s own Uncomfortable Conversation process to talk about money and identity. From September to December, Sruti worked with the Music Workers Alliance to support their elections process. In November, Caroline visited Mondragon to talk about educational models for economic liberation. See our Goddard residency sessions here, learn about Music Workers Alliance here, and see what Caroline explored at Mondragon here!
Image from Sruti Suryanarayanan
- Entered a space of internal focus, working with community member Dr. Herukhuti Williams to study our own practices of labor, communication, and solidarity as a way to dissect what Art.coop models for other arts and culture bearers in the solidarity economy. We talked about our relationships with harm, repair, community, and compassion to better understand how we can more fully embody the principles of the solidarity economy movement. See some of our reflections here!
Images from Nati Linares, Marina Lopez, Sruti Suryanarayanan, and Caroline Woolard
- Traveled to see each other -- including some first time meetings for Sruti, Nati, and Marina -- and to see other dear ones in the ecosystem in our flesh. In October, Marina met Rad Pereira and Dioganhdih Hall of Iron Path Farms, and Sruti met Ebony Gustave and Robin Bean Crane of Cooperative Journal Media. In December, Nati met with Aisha Shillingford, Ebony Gustave, Belén Marco, Andrea Jacome, Cierra Peters, DeeArah Wright, Francisco Perez, and Sadé Swift for a celebration, held in collaboration with Zuzuka. Of course, we also cherished our "URL" time together. See our team with each other, in different combinations, above!
This year, we saw Study-into-Action alumni Herukhuti Williams and Carlos Uriona begin a process of collaborative conversation with one another, Mass MoCA’s Assets for Artists program engaged Daniel Park as a trainer, and our own Co-Organizer Marina Lopez deepened her collaborations with Clara Takarabe in An Invitation to Rest. In 2022, we also saw active funding of other Study-into-Action collaborators. If you’re interested in learning about these collaborations, being connected to anyone we work with, or just hanging out, write to us at [email protected] and [email protected]!
In the new year, we’re focusing on relationships most — including through conversations with the friends we interviewed for Caroline and Nati’s 2021 report, Solidarity Not Charity, and with the participants in 2021’s Study-into-Action cohort. We want to grow and cultivate relationships with other Solidarity Economy practitioners, artists, and culture bearers, and see more collaborations across our ecosystem.
Our own funding this year is affording us the opportunity to resource artists and cultural organizers to have full-time paid work, to internally cultivate the cultural economy we want, and to grow the vision of Art.coop and the Solidarity Economy from a state of what Art.coop friend Ebony Gustave calls THRIVAL.
In 2023, we will strengthen partnerships across arts and culture sectors by highlighting emerging artist-led Solidarity Economy movements which are growing in momentum everywhere. How does this resonate with you? Let us know with an email or a call. Art.coop is dedicating early 2023 for feedback calls with as many community members as possible so that we can recenter and strengthen our vision, by analyzing our works’ impacts on each other, and dreaming about the resistance and creation to come. Stay tuned for an email from [email protected] for more information about this — you can also write directly to Sruti!
This message will be our last post for this calendar year, as each of us take breaks to be with family and reground for our 2023. Thank you for all that you do to build a world of care, cooperation, and solidarity — we appreciate you!
In deep solidarity,
The Art.coop Family
Yes, we are seeing the impact of so many people's labor in this movement. Thank you for your belief and support.
Posted on December 22, 2022