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10 Years of Artist INC

By Margaret A. Keough

logo image for Artist INC, the word Artist runs over the work INC

10 x 10 Marks Ten Years of Serving Individual Artists through Artist INC

Artist INC was born in 2009 when a group of Kansas City arts organizations came together around the needs of individual artists: the need for professional training, the need for expanded resource networks, and the need to connect to one another across disciplines and career stages. In 2013, Artist INC began collaborating with Mid-America Arts Alliance to bring the program to different communities throughout the region. By the end of the first decade of programming in 2019, the Artist INC seminar had been completed by a total of 1,054 artists in ten communities across the M-AAA six-state region.

In October 2020, Artist INC released 10 x 10, a digital publication celebrating its first ten successful years. The rich media publication includes profiles of ten artists from over the program’s years, with images, testimonials, and stories of success. You can learn more about the collection of data for the program over its years–some of the deepest data in the country for looking at individual artists over a ten-year period.

Our Stories: Ten Years, Hundreds of Artists

Artist Cheryl Eve Acosta is part of the Spring 2012 Artist INC cohort. She creates sculptural jewelry inspired by the Cycle of Life, specifically marine biology. She participated in Artist INC as a recent transplant to Kansas City, and says, “I really saw my peers eye to eye, and knowing we are all in this together, that was really cool.” She credits connections made with other artists as part of the reason she has stayed and made Kansas City her home.

Acosta has an insightful profile in 10 x 10, detailing her work and featuring an essay, photographs, and video clips. Learn more about her journey and how it would not have been the same without this groundbreaking program. Artist INC also made a three-minute companion video with Acosta that is not to be missed.

Program Impact: Ten Years of Data

Artist INC connects artists of all disciplines to the tools, resources, and opportunities necessary to develop their entrepreneurial skills and to strengthen their artistic practice. After ten years, we’ve learned a lot about artists and their needs. We’ve learned ways that peer learning can make a huge difference, and how communities can better support artists making arts.

Artist INC participants gain knowledge of basic planning, marketing, financial, legal, and technological issues related to arts entrepreneurship.

  • Following Artist INC, 93% of artists can understand arts business concepts and how to apply them.

Artist INC participants increase their awareness of and access to quality tools and resources.

  • Before Artist INC, four in ten artists had applied for an arts grant. Five years post-seminar, this increases to more than seven in ten artists who had applied. With more applications comes more grants. Twice as many artists have received an arts grant five-years post-seminar versus pre-seminar.
  • Artists increasingly access professional resources. Prior to Artist INC, only a quarter of artists had used an accountant for their arts business. By five years post-seminar, more than half of the artists had used an accountant.
  • Artist INC participants establish long-term peer networks.

Artist INC participants establish long-term peer networks.

  • Artists increase their quantity of relationships with other local artists in their discipline by 20% one year post-seminar and by 93% five years post-seminar.
  • Artists increase their quantity of relationships with other local artists outside their discipline by 29% one year post-seminar and by 36% five years post-seminar.
  • Artists also increasingly access those networks for support, seeking advice and information from other local artists 28% more frequently one year post-seminar.

Artist INC participants increase their ability to have financially sustainable artistic careers. Artists “exponentialize” the impacts of the program.

  • After completing the program, 96.2% of Artist INC fellows have shared the program information with artists who have not yet participated.
  • This leads to longitudinal changes in the overall community of artists. In 2009 only 26.1% of Artist INC fellows entered the program with written goals. By 2019 60.0% of entering fellows had written goals. In the 2009 session, only 56.5% of entering artists considered themselves an “entrepreneur.” By 2019, 80% of entering artists considered themselves to be “entrepreneurs.”