December 2020 Tasks
December 1st, 2020
A Time for Two-Way Reflection
This is such a lovely moment this month to look back on the year’s accomplishments, its challenges, and its victories. And goodness knows we have had them all this year.
Looking at earnings for the year provides a natural vessel for that reflection, and this is a perfect month to start that process.
You may need to spend more time sorting unemployment payments (which are taxable) from emergency grants (which likely aren’t). You may have made more sales of your work online, and you may have less income from performances. You may have received more in contributions through Patreon, Kickstarter, or suggested donations for your events. You may have received additional grants through your state arts council or special project funding, especially this summer if your work helped capture the country’s BLM awakening.
But the dollars only tell part of the story. (Spend the time analyzing the dollars; you’ll be glad you did. But don’t stop there.)
The words tell more of the story, especially in terms of projects completed, grants received, and customers or collectors served. Did those you serve reflect your true community this year? Did your work reach those who really need it? What partners helped in your journey?
I suspect the list of supporters is longer than normal this year, especially when we consider the banker that helped process your PPP application, the arts council’s program director who reminded you to apply for the state’s emergency grant, or the foundation director who extended your reporting deadline, knowing you couldn’t possibly complete your project on time.
But looking at earnings – in dollars and numbers – is only a one-way reflection. It is outward, not inward. And for many of us, it is this inward reflection that is more important than ever right now.
We see the toll the year has taken in deepening frown lines, furrowed brows, and tired eyes. (And the prevalence of video-based meetings means these changes are visible every single day.)
We see the toll in the exhaustion we feel in re-strategizing for the third, fourth, or fifth time to continue doing work that matters under uncertain circumstances.
We see active brains, constantly asking questions and seeing improvement, both in ourselves and in our worlds. Even at rest, the brain activity doesn’t seem to pause.
But we also see progress. It is slow, it is inconsistent, and it is overdue. But it is progress, nonetheless. And it is worth celebrating, along with the hard-fought income earned, the emergency contributions received, and the partners, clients, customers, collectors, and supporters who made it happen.
As I reflect this year, it is abundantly clear that I have more work to do. And it is equally clear that I am so happy to have spent the year with you. Thank you for the work you made and the battles you fought. I hope you enjoy reflecting on all of them this month, while we prepare to begin again soon.
What We’re Doing
It’s a quieter month, thank goodness, as we exhale slowly toward the end of the year. On December 2, we are visiting with alumni from the New England Conservatory of Music to answer some year-end and pandemic-related planning questions, and we are doing an open Q&A with students from the School of Visual Arts on December 3.
Later in the month, we’re meeting with fellows from the Joan Mitchell Foundation to support their financial growth as part of the fellowship program, and we’ll chat with fashion designers from Indiana about the intersection between art, fashion, and business. The last two weeks of the year are reserved for reflection, and we promise that reflection will lead to more good things next year.
What We’re Talking About
Many of our conversations lately have been focused on taxes, including questions about the taxability of unemployment (it’s taxable). If you missed the Tax Master Class through Sundance Co//ab, feel free to watch the recording here.
Creative Coaching (1 hour, $110)
If you’d like to chat with me to answer your own questions, feel free to find a time that works with your schedule.
As I reflect on this year, I am so happy to have it with you. Thank you for the work you made and the battles you fought. Until next month…