This morning I left my apartment with my backpack full of an array of goodies-my MetroCard, my copy of the Vanity Fair July issue, and my Junior Committee notebook. From 9:30am-5:30pm I was at work and by 6:00pm I was at the Dance/NYC Town Hall: Connect the Blocks: Resource Sharing in NYC Dance. Tonight, I returned home still with my backpack and MetroCard, with my Vanity Fair but intrigued by an article on Marfa, TX, with my notebook but with 9 less blank pages, and now with contact information for a carpenter. Looks like the cubby system I wanted to build on my wall might happen after all!
Featuring Jen Abrams- Co-Founder of OurGoods, Tamara Greenfield- Executive Director of the Fourth Arts Block, Alexa Bradley- Program Director of On the Commons, and Rob Handel- Managing Director of 13P, this evening was about resource sharing and as Dance/NYC so aptly stated, “What happens when we make dance using resources other than dollars?” At the end of the evening, Jen Abrams led a quick, interactive barter session to implement some of what we had learned over the course of the evening. Everyone in the room defined three of their haves, what you have to offer (on yellow post-it notes) and three of their needs, what you need (on blue post-it notes). All of these were posted to the wall for perusing which explains how Phoebe from the Fourth Arts Block saw my need for a carpenter and why I now have a business card in my backpack which I did not have this morning and was in desperate need of.
I’m thrilled to have walked away with plans to build a cubby system as is the clutter on my dresser. And I’m thrilled to now be active participant in resource sharing.
This got me thinking.
Recently, I’ve become interested in alternative funding opportunities and the development of systems that require creative revisions of tradition driven approaches. Although resource sharing suggests a system that exists without money, these exchanged goods still have value.
How are bartered goods represented in a budget, a tool used to track value? Income denotes actual money. In-Kind donations are one time gifts. Bartered goods are sort of both- gifts that speak the language of quantity but not in the dialect of money. Although bartered goods can be placed in an In-Kind line and most likely are, this misrepresents their value.
Exchanged services require formed relationships that extend over the period of time necessary until completion. Value metrics are developed to moderate the exchange. Communication skills are gleaned. Personal skill sets are evaluated. A bartered line item implies a conscious effort to fully comprehend available resources, essentially, a cultivated approach. Ideally, I think we should have a separate column for bartered goods in a budget. Bartered line items express dedication and investment to a potential funder because they show how the artist personally values their work. It is also in line with the old adage, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Establish a bartered relationship that first produces good work based on the strength of each individual and the relationship can then yield money in the future.
I have many more thoughts on this, but essentially I think we must turn towards these creative structures to innovate antiquated funding traditions. It was noted that a barter system can influence the type of art you are creating because it more clearly defines your resources. If this is true, I wonder how we are expected to make innovative work by funders if our their granting systems are regressive?
During the hands on barter session the crowd mingled. I voiced these ideas a bit with Lane, Director of Dance/NYC and Alexa Bradley. I must say, it was much easier to articulate this concept in conversation than it has been to write. I attribute this to the layered nature of exchange, as well as to my inability to use hand gestures while writing. Being said, I hope my transparency invites you to think this through with me- share your thoughts, as you may have what I need!