Within Creative Capital circles, grantees and staff will sometimes describe themselves as a cult. I’ve always took this as a reference to the unified vision of their community—grantees and staff deeply believe in the importance of the organization and don’t hesitate to share that belief with others. If there are naysayers in this community, they are very quiet.
To be fair, I’m not exactly an outside source myself. As an Arts Writer grantee I am a beneficiary of some of that same funding, so perhaps it’s not a surprise when I say there simply isn’t another granting organization like them. I’ve drunk the koolaide, as they say.
The fact is, though, there isn’t. Creative Capital has given a total of $35 million to 465 projects since their founding in 1999. It’s an impressive sum and only a part of their support. They make sure their artists are given the resources to most effectively manage the money they are given. This comes in the form of workshops, their annual retreat, and a vast network of artists willing to support and collaborate with each other.
I love all this, but my favorite aspect of the organization isn’t only what they do, but who they are. In one of her many talks at the retreat this July, Creative Capital President & Executive Director Ruby Lerner spoke of the importance of keeping the organization weird. The short explanation of what this means is simply that she wants them to continue to fund projects that aren’t beholden to the market. (Lerner has announced her retirement, so the succession planning has begun in earnest.) More specifically, though, it means supporting artists who bring a point of view to the table, who aren’t afraid to fail, and who pursue excellence in whatever field they work in. These are the artists who exemplify the creative spirit. Their work must be supported.
In my previous two posts summing up highlights from the Creative Capital retreat, I’ve tried to highlight presentations by artists who I felt exemplified those qualities. (They can be read here and here). In my last post on this year’s retreat, I highlight three more. Here goes.