No Artist is an Island: Creative Capital Workshops Go to Hawaii

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Whether it’s a web-based class or a workshop in our New York office, our Professional Development Program is super accessible to artists all over. From Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to Jacksonville, Florida, we have presented workshops for diverse communities across the United States. Recently, we were invited to Honolulu, Hawaii by Interisland Terminal. Amy Smith, PDP’s Financial Literacy workshop leader, led artists there through a day that included tips and strategies for savings, taxes, getting out of debt, budgeting and expense tracking.
My experience started on Friday night when I met my three hosts: Wei Fang, Maile Meyer and Trisha Lagaso Goldberg. They presented me with beautiful scented leis and took me out to a lovely dinner of local food. I felt like a princess! These three women created Interisland Terminal as a labor of love because they care so much about the local arts community. I can relate to that, having myself started a local service organization for dance with a local committee, and served on many boards. But it’s always so great to be around people who are actively working to improve the situation in their home communities, as these women are. It’s inspiring.
Interisland created the space where the workshop was held, called the Kaka’ako Agora. It’s a community gathering space in a warehouse district that is undergoing huge development activity these days. One of the themes I noticed in talking to the workshop participants is the added difficulty of making art in a city where real estate is so expensive and developers may not understand the value of a thriving local arts community. In Honolulu, it’s extremely rare for an artist to own their home or have permanent studio space.
Also, because Hawaii is an island state so far from the continental United States, I got a sense that many of the artists felt isolated, from each other and from continental artists. (This is especially common for visual artists, many of whom create their art alone.) This workshop was, for many of them, a step in the direction of more community connection.
The financial issues facing the artists were the usual ones I see everywhere I go: artists not earning enough income from their art practice, and/or revenue being so “feast or famine” that it’s hard to plan for the future. In the workshop, we talked about basic financial terms (compound interest!), issues related to self employment, valuing your time, negotiating for fair pay, taxes, budgeting, debt reduction and saving for the long term. It was a productive, vibrant day with lots of candor and community spirit. Or, as they say in Hawaii, “aloha spirit.”
Amy Smith in Hawaii
One artist wrote in their evaluation: “This workshop was most effective in helping me frame my own sense of self as an artist who can run my own business. It boosted my confidence.”
Another wrote: “My financial goals seem more attainable now.”
These workshops help me fulfill my personal mission of helping other artists increase their financial literacy so they can build sustainable lives.  The wonderful by-product is the beautiful places and beautiful communities I get to see and meet. Mahalo, Hawaii!
Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Twitter to stay tuned about more professional development courses like our Financial Literacy one! Colleen Keegan and Andrew Simonet will be back in Honolulu on June 7 for a workshop on Core Skills.

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