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Personal Economy #1

Each year we are able to host around a dozen large art exhibitions, scores of performance events, screenings, and talks, a festival that has over 400 participants, one internationally distributed magazine, one widely distributed local magazine, several annual periodicals, a dvd project, online video projects and several traveling exhibitions and events.

We are extremely fortunate and lucky that many people are interested in working with us on the multiple projects, publications and programs that we take part in. But the most important facet of this work is that these hundreds of individuals donate their labor in creating them. As facilitators of various outlets for expression we try to barter our services and provide space, opportunities and venues for these individuals to share their ideas and work. But this exchange and barter of labor does not pay any of the bills.

Everything we do is funded by the solicitations of money from hundreds if not thousands of individuals and independent businesses that we reach out to each year. Without this community nothing we currently do would be possible.

We own a building whose first floor functions as an art space, residency room, studio space and office for the publications we produce as well as the projects and festivals that we facilitate. To cover the costs of operations we rent our top floor apartments. The rental income from these apartments does cover our mortgage. But it does not cover our insurance, taxes, utilities and day to day operations.

To pay for these extra basic expenses we host events where we charge admission and sell beverages. This income barely helps us cover our costs. We also must work on other jobs, Sometimes one of us will do part time carpentry work, tend bar, nanny, get paid as a guest lecturer, or do odd consulting jobs.

The only way we have survived and continue to produce our projects is because we rely on multiple methods of financing the projects. We raise money to pay for our printing costs and assorted bills through the aforementioned events, soliciting advertising for display ads, fundraisers, applying for grants and then of course we sell our publications and products.

Often times we barter services between individuals and independent businesses. For example we will trade an ad for silk screening posters. Or we will trade ads to get credit at a store. These bartered arrangements allow us to eat out, purchase a pair of jeans or get zines, books and magazines we otherwise could not afford.

We are also fortunate that our families have let us use their credit ratings to allow us to buy our building. We also rely on them from time to time to borrow money when we are short on funds for a project. Many times we borrow additional money to pay for a publication, gambling on the hopes that we might earn that money back at a release event or fundraiser.

Besides winning the lottery, getting better paying straight jobs, or applying for some larger grants, we don’t see how any of this might change soon.. But we desperately want it to change. We want to be able to create sustainable projects where everyone involved can get financially compensated for their labor and we can expand on the work we already do.

And of course, like most artists, we don’t have health insurance. Some day it might be great to have that option.

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