Share Your Ideas with HowlRound


Our adaptive challenge

Because the not-for-profit arts sector has institutionalized “sweat equity” and there are large disparities in how resources are distributed, and because dependence on ever-dwindling philanthropic funding is unsustainable, HowlRound will endeavor to overhaul how resources are defined, identified, developed, and leveraged in order to increase our sector’s ability to make work and support the creative lives of artists in a dignified and equitable way. We will do this through stewarding CULTURE COIN, a peer-to-peer digital currency backed by a peer-to-peer sharing economy that matches artists’ needs to the community’s available and latent abundant resources.

Read more about the big thinking, deep questioning, and visions for the future in HowlRound’s project.

We ask the crowd:

  1. What are resources, assets, or expertise that you HAVE that currently go unused, are under-utilized, and could benefit your fellow artists, organizations, audiences? Answer from your various perspectives as an organization, an artist, and/or an arts-goer.
  2. As an artist or as an organization, what are resources, assets, expertise, or support that you NEED? How could those resources help you make a stronger impact and support your creative and cultural work?

When considering these questions, think of resources in the very broadest sense: anything that helps satisfy artistic, cultural, human needs and wants and that enables more impactful cultural production.

How will your responses help us move forward in tackling our adaptive challenge?

Your responses and contributions will help us learn and define what the actual building blocks of this new economy are in terms of what’s getting exchanged and circulated. Answers to both of these questions will help us develop the initial rapid, functional prototype of CULTURE COIN. We’ll use the responses to the first question to start developing “the scope” of what “resources” could be accessible and circulated in this sharing economy. We’ll use the responses to the second question to help us think through the overall design and mechanics of the system that will put form on this economy and this new, enhanced culture of sharing.

Share your responses with us (or “up-vote” ideas you like) in the comments section below.


HowlRound is committed to enabling commons-based culture and practices for theater and arts, globally. We develop online knowledge platforms and in-person gatherings that promote peer-to-peer participation, organizational collaboration, field-wide research, and new teaching practices.

  • Anna

    I’m really interested in how organizations can work together
    to better share, repurpose, or generate content around performances, events,
    artists. So much contextual and engaging digital content is generated around
    performances – blog posts, videos, podcasts, you name it. This is wonderful and
    helps to create “deep dive” opportunities for audiences. But, often it seems that these efforts are duplicated across organizations. How could we better communicate with one
    another (and perhaps with artists) to share this content, or to coordinate
    editorial calendars, or to generate this content? Also, I found this lecture in
    a Coursera course on gamification very useful background for virtual economies – it might be applicable as you continue to think about what the culture coin
    currency ends up looking like:

  • MariselaTreviñoOrta

    I’m currently in conversation with a group of artists (mostly actors) interested in creating a sort of 13P-like ensemble. Thinking about the expenses for even 1 show a year is daunting when you have no space and must raise the entire budget from scratch.

    I’m curious about space, as is locations for performances. How could Never Be Dark intersect with Culture Coin?

    Also, could the public library model (checking books out, a shared resource) be applied to props and costumes?

    • Thanks Marisela for these use cases.

      #neverbedark is very much a conceptual kindred spirit here and we think there’s much intersection to be had. Its “call to act on community inclusion” is what we’re positing a formalized exchange system will help enable, influence, push into motion.

      This brings up the big question: What do organizations with these really useful and untapped resources such as space and venues NEED from artists, culture makers, their local communities? How can organizations start to think differently about how to use the abundant skills, knowledge, and other resources that artists in their own community can provide to help their organizations. How can artists do the same in terms of looking at themselves and identifying what they can contribute to these organizations besides their own immediate artistic work.

      Specific questions for you and your collaborators: since you’re seeing that the lack of cash to rent space for your 13P-like endeavor is a big obstacle—what are the skills, resources, knowledge that you could provide—not necessarily to the venues that you’re hoping to use—but in general to your arts community both local and global that could help someone or some organization, even in seemingly small ways? Please list ’em! Everything big or small.

      We’re hoping folks from the Austin Scenic Coop will chime in here with their experience of Austin’s theater/arts community sharing scenic materials. Here’s their website (they are working on getting it up back online at the moment) and here’s some early documentation about the project on the TCG Aha Think It Do It Blog

      • MariselaTreviñoOrta

        I think organizations with spaces need help from artists to turn spaces into community hubs. Places where people come together to experience and create art.

        What could artists in the 13P-like endeavor bring? Most are actors and are teaching artists, so they bring the possibility teaching free classes offered at the theatre. I’m a playwright, so I bring that skill–workshops or event centered around storytelling–>sowing the seed that we’re all storytellers and have worthwhile stories to tell. One member is a mask maker, so they bring that skill. I’m also handy with making puppets ;). Who doesn’t like puppet shows? And we all bring our networks. In this day and age every individual has that resource, some have bigger networks, some local, some national–that can be tapped.

        • I think you’re hitting on a key characteristic of what we’re hoping CULTURE COIN will do in terms of transforming the behavior and culture of our artistic communities:

          artists, organizations, and arts-participants taking a collective stake or having a common, shared goal of making what we do be more vibrant and have more impact. Our current system of scarcity based on a cash-only economy unintentionally positions all of us as competitors for those scarce resources. If we have a formalized system to unleash abundance, sharing, and common goals—can we transform from a ME culture to WE culture?

          Thanks Marisela!

  • CharlieQuimby

    I voted for you last time around but must say I found the description dense and not very easy to follow. I’d encourage another look not only at what you’re attempting to do but at the language you use to muster support. Honestly, I don’t think I’d have voted for it if I didn’t know who was behind it.

    • Thank you for that criticism Charlie. Yes, communicating the idea simply is an on-going and exciting challenge for us. We’d love to get your responses to the two questions above which we hope are specific and grounded.

  • Anne

    What I have to offer:
    On a practical, day to day level, I have seven years of experience in digital marketing and advertising with an emphasis in graphic design, I read at least one play per week, which makes me a great literary resource, I have an MFA in directing, which makes me a great audition coach or auditor in addition to being a solid director, and a comprehensive knowledge of contemporary British playwrights and their work, making me a great resource for companies looking to incorporate those voices. I also have non-profit events planning experience, so I can help you with logistics. I’ve served as a teaching artist at theatres and universities, so I’d be happy to help your education department by teaching for you or consulting for your education department.

    What I need:
    Space for readings, rehearsals, and performances as well as design and technical resources, contract assistance and copying services.

    • MariselaTreviñoOrta

      How would CULTURE COIN deal with what looks to be a Catch-22 situation, HowlRound?

      Anne has amazing talents that any small theatre would love and most big theatres already have in-house departments for…If a small theatre or organization can’t provide Anne w/space or technical resources, but are the ones would most benefit from her skills–how do the small theatres get CULTURE COIN to compensate her?

      • Good question Marisela—and we should definitely try to uncover what small, boot-strapped organizations HAVE. Maybe they have something different than what’s different than Anne’s description of an individual artist’s resources. And maybe it’s in that that they are able to participate in this economy in some way that earns them CULTURE COIN.

        In your scenario above, maybe the small organization earned CULTURE COIN from, say, audiences that came to their recent show or from a larger organization that hired them to produce a party in the larger organization’s space. The small organization is working on a new show and need some of the expertise that Anne has—they can then hire Anne and then Anne can eventual get space with CULTURE COIN that she earned. And maybe she chooses to get space from completely new organization that has space, and maybe it’s in a different city that she’s touring to. ???

    • Thanks exciting Anne. You’re uncovering a bunch of really valuable skills (aka “resources” for the community) that for the moment are not being fully utilized as much as they could be because of the current systems that determine and corral much of our activity in the field. Some folks refer to your resources as “sleeping or dead capital”—and here’s where we should all try to intervene to design something new to unleash that capital.

  • Anna

    Thanks for the follow-up! I’m not sure that I have a full picture of the obstacles, but one that comes to mind right away is simple logistics. Often timelines between organizations and artists differ, so when content is produced by one organization, there’s not an opportunity to share between partners because these partners haven’t yet become partners. A common platform can certainly begin to lead to better communication, but I think we need to be careful to think about the structure of such platforms so that they don’t become another layer of work.

  • Fractured Atlas’ work here has been great here in terms of “mapping” resources such as space for the first time. Making those resources visible is the first step to making them useable. CULTURE COIN wants to riff on that work and see if we can’t make the mapping of underutilized resources exist in a sharing economy outside of cash. Example: an artist can “rent” a space because he or she has already contributed or earned value in his/her artistic community—as opposed to just having cash.

  • Dillon Slagle

    As an early career dramaturg what I need most is professional guidance. There is some nice buzz being generated by other early career dramaturg’s via the LMDA. While this is extremely helpful, what I really need is a mentor. Someone to help me direct my development.

    • Dillon, it seems like most mentorships happen on a level that’s beyond basic market transactions. It’s different than if say you needed foreign language lessons and you paid a tutor to help you learn. Mentors often are rewarded by the intrinsic experience itself as much as the mentee is. Mentors in many cases are willing to participate in the relationship as “volunteers”. Do you think that mentorships would lose something if they existed in a formalized system that recognized their work/contribution to the mentee? Would something be “corrupted” if they earned CULTURE COINS for mentoring? Or do you think that CULTURE COIN could be sort of a “badge” signaling publicly that a person earning CULTURE COINS is contributing in some way to the health of the overall arts community??

      • Dillon Slagle

        I hesitate to commoditize that kind of relationship, however in many ways this has already been done. From my perspective most contemporary mentorship happens at Universities. There is certainly a monetary base to that situation. However, for artistic and monetary reasons that system is becoming less applicable. Furthermore, for a specialized pursuit such as dramaturgy a significant amount of development and experience is needed before one can even attempt to enter that setting at the graduate level.
        I feel that formalizing that relationship would not be a intrinsically harm it. It would provide a framework for willing mentors and those in need of guidance to work together with a clear system of reciprocity. CULTURE COIN could certainly act as a signifier of contribution to the artistic community, and for dramaturgy nay-sayers may help combat the question of ‘what do you actually do?’ We are meant to guide and inform the artistic process; we cannot do that effectively unless we are guided and informed by our more experienced peers.

        • Thank you Dillon. Great to get your thoughts on this. Could you say more about dramaturgy education, universities, mentorships there and why you say “for artistic and monetary reasons that system is becoming less applicable” ? CULTURE COIN is ultimately hoping to be an intervention in this historical moment when our current economic systems and institutions are changing, evolving, even devolving.

          • Dillon Slagle

            Thank you for the platform to discuss these ideas and congeal them into tangible and workable solutions. This is merely my perspective, so this experience may not resonate with everyone. to me dramaturgy education relient solely on university programs is simply unworkable. These programs do an amazing job of developing theory and aesthetic, which is a vital and necessary force in the theatre. That said, as we enter an economic reality where, from a purely monetary sense, education is no longer giving you a return on your investment we must look to alternate modes of fostering new artists. Institutions have battled to meet this challenge, and many programs now offer full or partial funding, but these positions are few and competitive in the extreme. To secure them one must have met and cleared the challenges of starting a career in the arts.

            My professional development is occurring right now, outside the university. While this is exciting, and everyday I learn how to takle obstacles and discover solutions, I often feel without a guiding light. Not that I feel lost. I know where I’m going, I even know the basic route to my professional goals. What I don’t know are the specifics; how do you conduct a first meeting with a playwright effectively (often this is my ‘interview’), how do you bring up the subject of monetary compensation, how do I approach the daily intricacies that take dramaturgy from aesthetic theory to workable profession? That is what I feel dramaturgy needs right now as a discipline. It is also what I see glaringly lacking in university education, at least in a formalized sense. This practical application, these strategies of implementation, are qualities my predecessors must impart to me.

          • Thanks Dillon. There’s some similarity here with what Holly Derr points out in her recent blog post about internships and their effect of limiting opportunities to only those who have the financial resources to participate There are bottlenecks to opportunities, resources, skill acquisition, education that are only getting more severe in our economic climate. What CULTURE COIN wants to do is figure out how to bypass those bottlenecks—and to reconfigure our cultural and mental framework for being able to see and unleash resources and opportunities that are currently obscured.

          • Dillon Slagle

            Holly Derr makes some really great points in her blog post, thank you for sharing it. I’m very excited to see CULTURE COIN improve our current system of reciprocity and compensation in the arts. It is a wonderful project, and I would love to contribute in any way that I can.

  • Michael Fenlason

    AT the Museum, film company and theatre I work at, the greatest resources we have (other than the artistic talents) are real estate and digital media. This last year, for example, at my theatre company Beowulf Alley, I threw open the doors to outside groups to rehearse, present, create fundraisers, etc. We were able to help three other theatre companies, a dance company, two comedy troupes and an educational program. We had moments where our building was not in use and it made no sense. Similarly this year, the Tucson Museum of Art is contacting over 200 local artists to be engaged and apart of a conversation about how to transform our nearly four-acre campus into something more participatory and sustainable. Looking at other arts organizations (and indeed my own), I’m not seeing a creative attack to digital media. These resources are often free and low cost. They can occasionally create revenue if well-managed. Collaborations, shared resources and mergers can be useful and economically efficient, but they will require playing in the sand box well. The resources that artists need the most are collaborative. Most collaborative arts agencies are not really helpful in my view. We have a few in Tucson that seem to take resources rather than provide them. The artists and the organizations need to embrace a far-ranging collaborative model.

  • nosborne

    Question One: Facebook is a huge resource for me. I’m able to find information on different opportunities, and communicate with other playwrights. There’s a page on the site called the Official Playwright’s of Facebook, which has been particularly helpful. In addition; blog post, Link-in, and the Howl Round Play Map have all been extremely helpful in finding opportunities for submissions, performances in the area, and connecting with other writers and artists.
    Question Two: Many theaters ask for playwrights to have a director when proposing a new piece. Unfortunately, I have many resources for connecting with other writers and writing opportunities, but not with directors. Having the ability to connect and communicate with directors, designers, and performers, would be incredibly valuable

    • Would the ability to connect with these other artists through some kind of organization or forum be something that you’d be willing to pay or exchange something for?

  • Prospero570

    What are resources, assets, or expertise that you HAVE that currently go unused, are under-utilized, and could benefit your fellow artists, organizations, audiences? Answer from your various perspectives as an organization, an artist, and/or an arts-goer.

    • Thank you Craig for these wonderful thoughts. Do you feel that a new sharing economy/culture in the arts community—in all new configurations: artist to artist, artist to institution, institution to institution, artist to audience, audience to audience, etc— would help create or enable the behaviors you mention in your response about NEEDS?

      • Without a doubt. That’s why I think Culture Coin is more than a smart idea. It’s a manifest generator for an arts ecosystem. The relationships that you listed are like components in a circuit; they must be energetically and simultaneously engaged for the system to work as it should. I know we are capable of getting this going. My son is thirteen and he is doing amazing things on the computer with his friends. Gamers and modders and coders, they share the joy of growing their passion together so I know it’s doable in the arts. And once our machine starts to hum, the need to maintain it will be self-evident.

        • Thank you Craig.

          • Sorry for the delayed response. For the last few days I have been otherwise engaged.

            Still, had I replied immediately, I think my answer fundamentally would have been the same as it is now: I really don’t know. I find myself working in two worlds, most recently the academic, and intermittently since my twenties, the professional. I recognize the outlines of obstacles in each, but a precise plan to surmount them eludes me.

            In 1969, Neil Postman delivered an address to the National Convention for the Teachers of English. Speaking on “Bullshit and the Art of Crap Detection,” he declared that the best things schools can do for kids is to help them learn how to distinguish useful talk from bullshit. He claimed that if we can help [students] to recognize that each day…[they] are exposed to more bullshit than it is healthy for them to endure, they might turn away from it and toward language that might do them some earthly good. Then in the spirit of “crap detection,” he went on to admit that he didn’t know how that realization for students could be achieved:

            “You, therefore, probably assume that I know something about now to achieve this. Well, I don’t. At least not very much. I know that our present curricula do not even touch on the matter. Neither do our present methods of training teachers. I am not even sure that classrooms and schools can be reformed enough so that critical and lively people can be nurtured there.”

            The Classroom and The Theatre, while not perfect doppelgängers, are close enough that most anything we write about one of them could be applied to the other. And yet for the next few paragraphs I’m going to write about neither, presenting instead three related/unrelated things that happened or occurred to me over the past three days.

            I threw out my back. Against the advice of my wife (to whom I should ALWAYS listen) I had gone into our garden to reposition a concrete statue of an anonymous Roman. (We had purchased it years ago from our local landscape supply. The attached tag simply read “Bust of Some Guy.” After a salesperson transcribed the tag, our receipt read “Bust of Same Guy,” which did little to further our knowledge.) Anyway, I didn’t move it more than a few feet. Later, as pain relievers began to kick in, I realized that perhaps there had been a metaphor in my failed attempt at shifting that statue.

            While I lay immobilized on the bed, I listened to one of my favorite albums from two of my favorite artists, “The Harrow and the Harvest” by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. In my hands I held the CD case, into which had been inserted an intricate line drawing of Welch and Rawlings, embossed into paper “so thick it could double as a coaster.” When the album was released two years ago, the duo posted a YouTube video showing how to individualize the cover by coffee-staining it.


            I sussed immediately what they had done. In an era where it is more convenient to download music, a consumer has little reason to actually own a CD, unless it is an “ontological” reason. So Welch and Rawlings had contracted with Aardvark Letterpress—a family owned business that for forty-three years has been using metal-plated letterpress machines to make fancy invitations and business cards. The “thingness” of the cover art made purchasing the CD more than just a means of acquiring the music. (But with these two, it’s really great music, so get it any way you can.)

            A day after my injury, when I was able to move from the bed to the couch, I decided to kill some time by watching televised poker. During the eighties I spent many hours in Southern California card clubs, which at the time offered a glimpse into an exotic, though somewhat concealed subculture. And while it was fun to play poker, it was tedious to watch, so waiting for a table was a challenge. But something happened to the game, or rather to spectatorship of the game. With the introduction of modern technology—“hole-card cameras,” to be precise—televised poker was born, with all of its attendant glories and celebrities. By providing its audience with a particular kind of information, the stoic game became a compelling sport.

            So what do these three things—poker, CD covers, concrete statues—have in common? It’s a stretch, I know, but I would like to suggest that they all relate to obstacles and transitions. I don’t know if somewhere there had been a cabal of promoters struggling with poker’s lackluster crowd appeal, but once the technology appeared and was applied, the obstacle to enjoying poker as a spectator was eliminated. In fact, by providing insider knowledge, technology transformed an audience into enthusiastic participants.

            Seeking to engage their listening audience on another level, Welch and Rawlings—with their embossed cover—attached a compelling value, informed by artistic techniques of the past, to substantiate the physical engagement with their CD. “Thingness” became a way to counter the obstacle of newer forms and their convenience.

            Finally, that statue of “Some Guy” that resisted my attempt at repositioning, what about that? Well, I could have enlisted help to move it (which was my wife’s suggestion.) Or I could just accept that straining against it put me in a position (literally) to riff on change and the pain that might come with it. For years I have been talking about the need for educational institutions to shift from instruction delivery to the production of learning, to facilitate effective and cutting-edge student engagement as their primary focus, to emphasize mentoring collaboration over expertise, to create a structured game where everyone plays the game. As you might presume, there’s a great deal of pushback from the professoriate on that one. A similar evolutionary shift could be good for theatre—at least for now—with artists engaging their audience as co-creators, sharing insider information, and raising the player stakes to provide for richer returns. Whatever we do, in academia or theatre, there are monuments that have to be rearranged or replaced and from time to time we’re bound to pull a muscle pushing against the past.

          • Thank you Craig for these stories and revelations. Hope your back feels better soon! The CD sleeve art and the televised poker game tech seem to be positive adaptations and cultural innovations in a context of a changing world. The statue story may be the cautionary tale that sometimes certain things should maybe just be left alone or handled delicately and we find a way to build and innovate around them—and possibly figure out how to leverage, re-mix their value and their contributions for the new stuff to develop.

            Here’s something from Buckminster Fuller on change: “Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary – the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, call me Trim Tab.”

            Thanks Craig.

          • Bucky Fuller, the Trim Tab. Thanks for reminding me about one of the smartest and most optimistic people I’ve ever encountered.

            I am suddenly less depressed. And my back is feeling better. So much better that I just got back from piloting a small boat on a lake. A boat with a rudder.

  • Iyalosa Songonjoko Adeyemo

    I am and have been an artist in Dallas , TX for 20 years now and I would appreciate an affordable venue to display/exhibit/sell my creations – $150.00 for 2 days of vending at any activity is far too much . I would also appreciate the opportunity of seeing ” new and old artists ” , not just the same old ‘ clic ‘ , as it has been in the past .

    • Thanks Iyalosa. What do you think an exhibition venue like the ones you are seeking would need besides money? What resources, skills, help do they need?

      And besides cash for your artwork, what else could you exchange for your artwork that would help support you and the continued creation of your work?

  • Catherine Castellani

    Resources I HAVE and can share: top-notch office administration skills (any kind of scheduling, logistics, or just plain keeping after people), fine expository writing skills (meaning, I can draft press releases, program notes, etc.). Resources I NEED: studio or rehearsal space suitable for informal readings, office/desk space (especially outside of regular business hours), discounted theater tickets. I can see how these can be traded quite readily. The big block is trust. Nobody wants to trade these kind of resources with an unknown quantity. There would need to be some bridge-building or matchmaking component to this. Which is actually something I can do, too.

    • Excellent point about “TRUST”, Catherine. You’re pointing out that this social aspect, dynamic is what will be partially responsible for allowing resources to be freed into circulation in this economy. Trust is a huge part of peer-to-peer endeavors.

      Couple of follow up questions:

      -What is currently holding you up from getting studio space, office space, theater tickets? Is it just your access to cash, and cash being the only/primary way to get all of those things above? And are temporary or freelance gigs to use your admin/management/communication skills working for not-for-profit theaters scarce or hard to get? If so, why is that do you think?

      -If you’ve ever used Ebay or AirBnB, what do you think of their star-system of rating people’s trustworthiness?

      • Catherine Castellani

        I generally pay for studio/rehearsal space (cash), and am looking into co-working situations for the office space (I used to be a member of The Writers Room, which is a good model.) I used to work temp/freelance, but since having a kid and requiring health insurance, I have a regular day job. Honestly, the pay is so low and the benefits so non-existent for admin work in the theater, I would feel better about bartering my skills than being an employee. I think I would be happier being a playwright/volunteer admin with office-use privileges after-hours than trading my day-time hours for scant pay. I am NY-based, and space is always at a premium. The most attractive aspect, for me, is that by developing barter arrangements and trust, I’d also be expanding my personal artistic and business community. I haven’t used Ebay/AirBnB, but I think it’s the same idea as the Amazon star system for outside vendors. You can see if others are satisfied with the service.

  • The Tesseract Theatre Company

    As a very small and relatively new theatre company in St. Louis, Tesseract doesn’t have many assets aside from props and set pieces that could benefit other arts organizations or artists in St. Louis. However, we do HAVE a group of dedicated men and women as part of our artistic ensemble. These talented young artists are always hard at work building their experiences and honing their craft, either as actors, directors, writers, set designers, house managers or stage managers. Their talents
    never go unutilized (or unappreciated!), but perhaps they would be better able
    to cultivate their skills and broaden their experiences by working with other
    artists in the area, just as they work with one another within the ensemble. Perhaps in this same way, other artists and ensembles can learn from our ensemble members as well. This kind of give and take would give all local artists and performers a friendly, familial environment to try new things and expand horizons.

    We also have a visiting playwrights series that gives local students and artists in the St. Louis area the opportunity to have conversations with playwrights who are making waves around the country. Each season, we host a playwright, show them around St. Louis and introduce them to local artists who have the unique opportunity to learn from their experiences. All of our shows and programs are absolutely free of charge and are therefore more accessible to fellow artists.

    As a small organization, we are always in NEED of volunteers. Our artistic ensemble members have graciously filled in as house managers before, but Tesseract is in need of people who have a passion for the arts and are willing to help us put on a professional production by playing this important role.

    In addition, as our organization grows, we are having trouble keeping up with such a small staff. Volunteers are needed as photographers to properly capture rehearsals and productions as well as other theatre company events, so that we can grow our following on social media outlets as well as local media publications. We are also in need of a volunteer who could help update our website on a regular basis and make design changes.

    As part of our playwright-in-residence program, there are several times throughout the course of the year when guest responders are needed to attend workshops and readings of our local playwright’s work. We often draw on local artists and professors, but these kind and knowledgeable folks will not always be available and different points-of-view are crucial to the development of any new work. If we
    had access to a large pool of local professionals and artists who would be open
    to offering their time and brain-power to the development of new plays in St. Louis.

    The CULTURE COIN is a fantastic idea that we have been excited about from the beginning. We do realize that it will not be easy to implement this new economy, especially outside of the theatre community. However, as David Dower
    said in his article, “Practical Applications of the Culture Coin”, “we can begin to make a dent in the challenges within the cultural economy.”

    • Thank you Tesseract for this really thoughtful response! Much appreciated and thank you for all of your support.

      In the first paragraph about local artists working together—do you see this as an exchange of skills or teaching that could be facilitated by a formal exchange system such as CULTURE COIN? Or are you talking about artists working on artistic projects, performance together—and therefore more about being able to develop more inter-artist collaborative opportunities in St. Louis? If the latter, how do you see the CULTURE COIN economy functioning here, if at all? What are currently the obstacles preventing more of this collaboration? Is it money or access to certain resources or willingness?

      Thanks for bringing up “volunteers”. If we start to view volunteers (including arts-goers, supporters who don’t necessarily practice an art-form) as “culture makers” just as we view artists who work for free, who are underpaid, or under-appreciated as “culture makers”—then their efforts and work could be put into circulation with CULTURE COIN making their efforts tap into the overall arts sharing economy and arts culture and not just restricted to one organization.

      Volunteerism is a really important idea here we think. It’s the “sweat equity” that’s generated from passion and a shared vision and exists outside of commercial market transactions. It’s the spirit behind people’s work in the not-for-profit fields and the “why” behind commons projects.

      Could you tell us more about your volunteers? Do they usually volunteer for many other organizations, what attracts them currently to work with you all? What are the obstacles to getting more volunteers? What do you think they find fulfilling, satisfying, rewarding in volunteer work?

      • The Tesseract Theatre Company

        Thanks for such thought-provoking follow-ups, HowlRound!

        At this point in time, we are imagining local artists working together as an exchange of skills that could perhaps be facilitated with CULTURE COIN rather than artists working on artistic projects together. While there is definitely merit to inter-artist collaboration, we are imagining more of a workshop-style atmosphere between other artists and our artistic ensemble in which there would exist a mutual exchange of experiences, exercises and skills to help young artists grow.

        On the subject of volunteers, all of our actors, administrators and staff are unpaid (except for the actors’ tip jar at each show), simply because we cannot afford it at this time. We can see a huge benefit of putting the unpaid efforts of local artists into circulation not only because it may give us unprecedented access to meet with local actors, but more importantly because these extremely talented individuals may soon begin to receive something in return for their passion and hard work that they could exchange for something beneficial to their careers.
        Our volunteers are attracted to work with us mostly through word of mouth. Last season, one photographer volunteer knew our playwright-in-residence, for example. She was very excited to contribute to the publicizing of her friend’s play by taking photos. Other volunteers are close with our staff members or members of our artistic ensemble and want to help because they believe in our mission and want to help put on free theatre. I’d say the biggest obstacle to getting more volunteers is having such a small circle of friends to draw on. That, as well as time. We need to spend more time simply asking for help on various outlets, including volunteer websites and our social media pages.

        • Thanks Tesseract, you’ve outlined here some great and specific use-cases for CULTURE COIN! Let us know when you have other ideas about what can be put into circulation and what are some unmet needs in St. Louis’ arts community. Any guesses as to what more heavily resourced organizations would NEED?

          • The Tesseract Theatre Company

            We certainly will, HowlRound! Thanks for an engaging conversation!
            As to the needs of more heavily resourced organizations, it’s hard to guess at, but perhaps most larger, more established arts orgs have a following that has been with them for a long time. Maybe in order to continue to grow, stay relevant and remain vibrant in the community, a younger audience would be a need. Not saying age is the only thing to be looking at here, but most of the time, younger audience members may not be able to regularly afford tickets to shows, enrollment in classes or workshops at more established organizations. Perhaps putting a batch of tickets or some class sessions into the CULTURE COIN circulation could enable younger artists to begin to experience different kinds of art or build their careers and the organization to keep its finger on the pulse of what’s next.

  • Erin Hopkins

    I haven’t scoured the comments below, so please forgive me if any of these have already been mentioned:

    As an artist ALL of us have (and should utilize) our capabilties to network with other artists, producers and denizens of the American Theatre. This is incredibly valuable as I am learning more and more. I think it would be disastrous to use this in CultureCoin in the manner of “you read this script/built this set, therefore you will now be able to contact “person x,” which would obviously restrict free contact between artists. That said, I think if there is a typically monetized service such as LMDA or another organizations’ membership, TCG’s ArtSearch or the like, it would be incredibly poignant for that to be included in this cultural exchange.

    Also, access to certain workshops or classes (I’m thinking Resume Writing and education about becoming or maintaining skills as a professional etc.)

    I do not in any way (nor do I think Howlround would) accept the idea of restricting any of these resources in order to monetize them, but I think that allowing access to those resources as part of CultureCoin could be a potential game changer!


    • Erin, thank you for this new use and idea for CULTURE COIN: using it to pay for professional resources and products from service-based, membership, and professional development organizations instead of using conventional currency. A big question for these organizations would be what do they NEED, what are their unmet needs that could put them into circulation in the CULTURE COIN economy?

  • Taylor Gruenloh

    As an MFA playwriting student making my way through the acting theory gamut, I’ve come across Meyerhold and Bauhaus and all the other mad hatters. Big giant groups of people creating intermingled art. Theatre art that required immense actor training (that, isn’t quite demanded in America anymore), theatre shows that added elements of scientific research,engineering, and welding, and anything you could think of. I mean anything. These big companies were completely immersed in exploring and pushing past the boundaries of what theatre could be. I believe CULTURE COIN could very well be a system to help companies and groups of that size and vision succeed once again.

    You keep asking how could CULTURE COIN reach into areas outside of theatre, but I wonder if CULTURE COIN could be used to bring theatre to outside areas. Areas of social exclusion. A way to get to special populations. Scientific communities. Prisons. Dense diverse areas. Places that might have grant funds or corporate funding already, but unaware that theatre has a huge potential to open communication between an organization and a community.

    Maybe bringing theatre to an area that doesn’t know that could benefit from performance art or dramatic improve training (they use these tools for hospital training and in corporate call centers, just to name a few), going to places who might pay for such experiences, might be a way to back the CULTURE COIN with the dollar (something brought up on HowlRound and on Twitter by David Dower).

    I hope these scatter shot ideas make sense as I suck down my third pot of coffee at IHOP and ignore my homework.

    • Thank you Taylor for these thoughts. You make a good point that communities outside the arts could participate in this economy and that CULTURE COIN could be a facilitator for this cross-sector exchange instead of our current system that depends on national debt-based currency and our current institutional efforts to collaborate with other fields.

      Apart from resources and artistic collaborations that these other communities can drop into circulation, there’s also the possibility of basic material needs getting met for culture makers (such as food and housing) with involvement from local Community Support Agriculture projects, food coops.

    • Julie Fossitt

      A wonderful idea. I grew up in a rural community and never had the opportunity to see community or professional performing arts until I was a teenager and had to travel to the city. The opportunity for artists to interact with the members of their own community in that community is a way to make the arts so much more accessible and a chance for artists to learn so much. The other side of the CULTURE COIN could be the enhancement of the experience through digital enrichment.

      My dream is a community arts project in a corn field with both the farmers and the cows as spectators.

      • Taylor Gruenloh

        I am totally game to see a corn field arts project!! If you build it, I will come.

  • Kellewele

    As an artist, I am really good at building bridges. I try to listen to people and identify needs. I enjoy assisting others in bringing their creations to life. My experience includes organizing shows, producing shows, and providing musical entertainment/ education. I desire more knowledge of resources available to artists to assist with management, marketing and business planning.

    • Thanks Kelle. In terms of the practical design of CULTURE COIN, it’s appearing as though it would be an internet-based system that provides an inventory or “maps” and uncovers all the available resources, skills, assets of the people and organizations participating in the economy and who wish to put those resources into circulation. It would also be an inventory of unmet needs from people and organizations. Circulation or “currency” happens when NEEDS are met by the RESOURCES that satisfy them. These inventories would definitely be creating new knowledge of what’s out there—and knowledge that will actually translate to real-world, economic and community impact.

  • sOopahvi

    Arrrgh, just posted a really long response but am not sure if it went through.

    • Vivian, thank you for this unique perspective and need from “culture makers”. And thanks for your work with REDEFINE Really awesome arts journalism!

      You’re pointing directly at the heart of CULTURE COIN: “to give more back to our writers, who are definitely not getting paid enough for their hard work but are willing because they believe in our philosophy.”

      Follow up question for you: What other resources (in the broadest sense of the word) can you think of that your writers could get and not necessarily from REDEFINE? What are some unmet needs of theirs (material and otherwise) that could help sustain their on-going creativity and lives? Anything especially unique to your contributors?

  • Mark

    Perhaps an odd and specific question (fitting its source): suppose a fringe arts collective leverages its community’s volunteer spirit for creative outputs – e.g. all-hands set build days for theatre productions, volunteer box officers, etc. Some individuals have been involved in such projects for many years. As a “currency,” could Culture Coin facilitate Artistic Back Pay for their time served? Or would all sweat equity have a zero hour for accumulation?

    There are interesting implications for either scenario. In the former, a large number of current have-nots could suddenly have immense Cultural Capital to access underutilized resources in short order – perhaps even causing a “Bank Run” on rehearsal space, gobos, and gaff tape. In the latter, the Capital would shore up gradually depending on “sweat” post-zero hour. Assume a medium-sized theatre company accepts a fixed rate of Culture Coins for Fresnel rentals: is it more equitable/fair/sensible for the fringe collective to possess a swath of Culture Coin reparations; or should it have to put in the same fresh “sweat” as the semi-professional improv troupe down the street?

    Perhaps this amount of specificity is beyond current conceptual Howling, but the nitty-gritty practical works of Culture Coin fascinate me if[/When!] it takes off.

    • Mark, these are great questions about—design with embedded ethics—. Thanks for pointing out that essential relationship that we should all be conscious of. I not sure I’m understanding “zero hour for accumulation”. Could you explain these two scenarios further, specifically about the value of the currency, how the currency is acquired, what happens when it’s spent? Are you referring to something like “demurrage”

      • Mark

        Let me come at it more generically: how, and when, does an individual/group “earn” Culture Coins – if at all? I’ve heretofore conceived some form of abstract or digitized value associated with “sweat equity” and underused resources; but is the form and purpose of Culture Coin more an open-source FORUM to share resources & fulfill unmet needs? There are seemingly infinite possibilities for Culture Coin. Can you outline what a specific “transaction” could be?

        • Hi Mark,
          The former. Your original description above in terms of activity and transactions is correct. (I just didn’t understand what you meant about “zero-hour”, so I didn’t understand the two scenarios.)

          An individual or organization either spends or earns CULTURE COINS in a transaction. Some examples: rehearsal space, building sets, for lights, food, housing, dance training, etc.

          How much each resource, skill, item is worth—and what the mechanism for setting prices/value is still a big question. We’re hoping that we’ll get clues about that in this crowdsourcing phase and then figure out those detailed mechanisms when we’re further along. Is it time-based like Time Banks? Is it some form of democratic consensus from participants? A big question.

          There will definitely be an internet platform(s) that list “resources” that are available to the CULTURE COIN economy and that manages participants accounts and transactions.

  • I have just graduated from undergraduate classical acting conservatory training. Since I have literally just entered the world as a non-student, I cannot yet say with certainty what challenges I will continue to face…

    What I have to offer: My degree comes with four years of tireless training to not only be understood, but to also be thoughtful and deliberate (studying Theatre Historiography with Michal Kobialka) and open-hearted (Kenneth Noel Mitchell was my initial acting teacher). I have a knack for dramaturgical discussion of a piece because of the challenges presented to students at the Guthrie program when I was there. Additionally, my experience in London (Fall 2011) has made me a thoughtful, engaged, intelligent artist. I have an interest in expanding our notion of what is “good” theatre by helping to teach about the lenses and histories of others through theatrical programming.

    However, often things seem to be very bottom-line. There is very little time spent engaging with WHO an actor is and WHAT she/he/sie brings to the table beyond how they might fit an image “right now.” We often hear of artists butting heads during the process in an unproductive fashion because the idea of what theatre should or should not be was never discussed prior to rehearsal. Many JOBS and MFA programs only hear monologues and songs as an application. Nearly no attention is given to INTERVIEWING and dissecting the experiences of the actor in the audition room (unlike most other jobs). What my resume says may mean nothing to an American director who may not understand (at no fault of their own) that Person X, with whom I worked in London, is actually a very reputable member of the arts community. They can’t get context if they don’t talk.

    I think there is more potential to develop me and my peers as active collaborators and trusted maintainers of a vision throughout a run if more time were spent TALKING and discussing prior to hire. I think there is a lot to be said about the quality of INTENT that an actor brings to a production.

    • Thanks David for these thoughts. You’re pointing to a commercial market-based culture and mentality that tends to treat art-making as a business transaction where there’s only one limited value to be exchanged. This mentality is especially prevalent in the commercial and unfortunately in the not-for-profit fields where artists are hired-guns, freelancers. Collective vision and values above and beyond just what you can immediately supply for the project often get overlooked in this system. CULTURE COIN hopes to intervene culturally by enabling everyone to take a collective stake in the overall health and wealth of the arts. The current and dominant system doesn’t enable this—so it’s always a struggle to fulfill what the not-for-profit field was created for.

  • VariationsTheatreGroup

    Variations Theatre Group, the managing company of The Chain
    Theatre is a new multipurpose black box venue in Long Island City, NY (just
    across the river from Manhattan). It is our desire to bring high-caliber art to
    a burgeoning neighborhood of New York City; to blend quality with community. We
    offer incredibly competitive rates for rentals, as we are looking to cultivate
    long-term collaborators. In addition to our versatile 65 seat house, which has
    lighting and sound packages comparable to most off-off broadway houses, we also
    have a number of rehearsal venues and an art gallery in the lobby. During VTG’s four year history we have
    produced a number of “American classics” (Miller, LaBute, Shepard) as well as a
    number of new works. Our Minor Variations Lab takes previously produced work
    and in conjunction with the playwright take it back to the workshop phase to
    further strengthen the piece. Because we are both a rental house and an independent
    producing organization, we have a wide network and are eager to help match
    people with new colleagues. We produce both in house and in conjunction with a
    number of other organizations.

    As we are a new company with little external funding, we are
    constantly on the lookout for those who can help us build real infostructure
    (marketing assistance, corporate sponsorship, etc.) Of course we are also
    perpetually looking to upgrade our equipment. We are looking to extend our
    reach outside the theater community to the neighborhood at large. We aim to be
    an community center for the arts, providing a cultural home to the multiplicity
    of artistic organizations in New York City.

    • Really exciting stuff, thanks for pointing all of this out! As is with any company—trying to figure out sustainable infrastructure such as what you mention, marketing capacity and technology (human and material resources)—our default tendency is to only think of funding sources and $ revenue as the solution because our current system in the not-for-profit arts has a monopoly on the way we think about the economy and how to support cultural organizations.
      That thinking about funding is essential, but at the same time, with CULTURE COIN we’re proposing an intervention to get your company’s unmet NEEDS partially or entirely satisfied in a “complementary” way through a parallel and intersecting new economy that doesn’t depend on traditional philanthropy, foundations, grants, donations, charity, or corporate sponsorship.

      As you’ll see in many of these comments from individual “culture makers”, there’s a lot of unused capacity and skills just sitting around that you could use.

      Follow up question: what are some of surmountable the challenges for an organization like yours to put your rental venue into circulation in the CULTURE COIN economy?

      (And to get specific about the transactions: You’d pay an individual in CULTURE COINS and maybe also in cash to help with marketing. Your rental venue doesn’t have to necessarily be then exchanged with that person you hired. (that would be Barter, which CULTURE COIN is not. CULTURE COIN is a medium representing stored value that can be used later and anywhere.) Your venue could be rented with CULTURE COINS (and maybe cash too) from an entirely different individual who’s earned CULTURE COINS somewhere else doing something entirely different like writing an article for an online journal. What this new economy does is unleash and liberate formerly unused, or underutilized resources from all over the entire arts community and then puts them into circulation that increases our overall health as a sector.)

      • VariationsTheatreGroup

        You’ve given us a lot to think about…
        The biggest concern for an organization like ours to buy in to the Culture Coin is that as we do have limited resources and funding. Because of that, we have become largely DIY, and would be a very difficult decision for us to allow for an organization paying with currency that cannot pay our electric bill when an organization is willing to pay rent. I hate that this is the kind of landscape in which we live, we want nothing more than to be collaborators and a source. Rock and a hard place indeed.
        What we would realistically be able to provide is semi-reliable daytime rehearsal space. Anything else that would potentially choke a revenue stream would be somewhat irresponsible for us at this point.
        I have a number of follow up questions for HowlRound:
        How would these “wares” be given a value? One thought is that much of what we would require (I’m speaking solely as the venue owner and not an artist or show producer) would “cost” thousands of dollars. Real, substantial year round marketing support is one example of something we would want to exchange for use of the space. Grant writing support is another. But how much rehearsal time would someone ask for to essentially be put on retainer for an entire year?
        How would these wares be vetted? I think I would speak for everyone who would put a tremendous amount into the Culture Coin project it would be very upsetting to then “cash in” and receive an inferior product. We have attempted to get into agreements like these, though admittedly they fell more under the barter category, and have been burned. In some cases rather badly. Would there be a Yelp-type element to this market? What kind of enforcement policy would there be? Mediation if there was disagreement over the terms?
        Please do not mistake this for negativity. I think this would be a tremendous boon to the artistic community if a way is found to make it truly sustainable for artists as well as organizations of all sizes.

        • Thanks Variations for these questions. Great ones and it’s interesting and exciting that more and more people are asking similar questions as this crowdsourcing period is developing and maturing.

          —>>> “How would these “wares” be given a value” is huge and is something that we’d need to figure out pretty soon. <<<<—

          Your example of needing to pay national currency-based bills and so will need to at times favor people who are paying traditional rent is a good example of when CULTURE COIN behaves as a "complementary currency" and not a replacement for the national currency.

          In another comment thread, there has been discussion of a yelp, airbnb, ebay-type ranking or "trust system" were people are rated and commented on based on their past involvement and work in this complementary economy. Mediation policies are definitely needed just in case. Who's the mediator? Not sure yet.

          How about this as an idea:

          CULTURE COIN is a currency—meaning it holds and transports value across time and space. It is not "barter" which is trade of a service or good between two parties.

          What if a user had a choice to either list their rehearsal space for rent for some number of CULTURE COINS or list their rehearsal space in order to get into a more involved and detailed "barter" agreement with one individual (that would have formalized mediation services provided by the CULTURE COIN community.) That way if as a space owner, you're not satisfied with the value of the CULTURE COIN at that moment, you can still make use of this alternative economy and get some support for it.

          (This choice of currency or barter would be like Ebay's "auction" or "just buy it". Both choices allow for the listed item to be in a market.)

          Thanks Variations!

          • VariationsTheatreGroup

            Great. We would be interested in hearing more, and perhaps be part of a focus group as this continues to develop! Best of luck, this could b a great thing for the artistic community.

          • Thanks for volunteering. We’ll definitely ask you when the time comes around for developing this further!

  • World Fringe

    1) What are resources, assets, or expertise that you HAVE that currently go unused, are under-utilized, and could benefit your fellow artists, organizations, audiences? Answer from your various perspectives as an organization, an artist, and/or an arts-goer.

    A unique understanding of the global fringe touring sector.
    personal connections with festival directors and artists.
    the ability to pair festivals with performers.
    information sharing to performers about how to take part in global festival circuit

    2) As an artist or as an organization, what are resources, assets, expertise, or support that you NEED? How could those resources help you make a stronger impact and support your creative and cultural work?

    we need time with a computer programmer to develop the on-line regional and fringe touring guide.
    We need to be able to do market research with Fringe Festivals and regional venues.

    • Excellent! Thanks for contributing here, very helpful. Your HAVES and NEEDS seem like they have a lot of potential to be put into circulation in this complementary economy and currency.

      Follow up questions:
      Are the needs that you mention unmet because of budget limitations? There’s just not enough money?

      Are your organization’s consulting and knowledge resources currently underutilized because it’s difficult in our current economy for artists to pay for those? Again cash scarce?

      • World Fringe

        Our consulting and knowledge resources are well utilised but we know more is needed. We would like to develop more resources for artists and for festivals but we have budget limitations as we don’t ask artists or Fringe festivals to pay for our resources.

        • Great—your circumstance is where the notion of “complementary currency” would be very strong. “Complementary” (not “complimentary”) as in adding more resources and circulation to an existing foundation that you already have. Thanks for your input here!

  • Lana with Rude Mechs

    I’m in a weird hurry, so this isn’t super thoughtful, but it’s what’s at the front of my mind right now.
    What are resources, assets, or expertise that you HAVE that currently go unused, are under-utilized, and could benefit your fellow artists, organizations, audiences? Answer from your various perspectives as an organization, an artist, and/or an arts-goer. Rude Fusion – it’s a modest co-production program that we offer to local artists to get their work staged in our space for free with advice if wanted, and free marketing/publicity. The Scenic Co-op – it’s not quite underused, but if we increased awareness / use, the library of free scenic materials could be larger/better and available to more people. 18 years of producing our own work and 14 years of managing a space = small business management – we are killer money managers/survivors. Our volunteer base – we have a very large number of people that have offer to volunteer after they’ve seen a show, but we don’t have the staff or time to manage it, and this has everything to do with better community and audience building and resource sharing. Our donor-base – we under-tap people that spontaneously give to us each year because we are loathe to alienate our supporters. We should be recruiting them to introduce us to new friends, to pledge their giving over time, and to party with us more often. The better we know and the more we engage with arts-givers, the stronger the whole arts scene becomes, especially for the artists that work in our space. Our space – we rent it for cheap and give it away all the time, but it could be leveraged better for community events (again, time/money), which would increase awareness, etc. etc.
    As an artist or as an organization, what are resources, assets, expertise, or support that you NEED? How could those resources help you make a stronger impact and support your creative and cultural work? We need more money. Straight up. Or the following things for free: All new computer equipment and software (especially a free and sophisticated crm tool). Technologically super savvy forward-thinking person dedicated to making all aspects of our art and admin work thrilling. An archivist (we may get one soon). All new production gear for venue. A new venue, heh. Cheaper health insurance. Without these things, we move a little more slowly, do a little less than we could, a little less well. We spend more time on slapping bandaids on problems, and less time on the art-making and visioning.

    • Wow, thanks Lana! The Austin theater community is really pioneers in resource sharing and collaborative culture. And we’re dying for you all to help us think through this formalized local and global economic system that could result in the great outcomes that you’re already experiencing in Austin—and that could be implemented in communities all over the place.

      Quick follow up questions (because we’re going to ask you much more later on):

      If instead of free and volunteer, what if you received and paid people in CULTURE COINS—how do you think that would impact participation in Rude Fusion, the Scenic Coop, and your volunteer base? Would it make participation and activity (aka economic/artistic/cultural activity) increase?

      And on the level of volunteer “spirit”: Would paying volunteers in a complementary currency like CULTURE COIN where they could use that currency to meet certain unmet needs elsewhere—would that “transaction” impact the excitement and spirit that currently motivates volunteers to do their essential cultural work?

      Thanks Lana!

      • Lana

        I think we could work with Culture Coins, yes. I need time to think this through and really understand the system as something more sophisticated than bartering (without getting clenched about who would track this for us and how). Are their proposed coin management systems in place?

        • Yes, there are tons of “complementary currencies” around the world, many of them with internet based systems that basically match resources with needs and manage people’s transactions and coins. Will get out more specifics later on.

          • Lana

            Looking forward to learning about it. Thanks!

  • Stephani Etheridge Woodson

    As a university professor specializing in community cultural development, I think culture coin could potentially intersect in interesting ways–like what Mr. Gruenloh points out. The question becomes how we circulate widely different resources in a standard fashion among widely different groups. Would “value” be negotiated? By whom? For example, what if I say that I my skill on offer is “fostering creative capacity” would that be understood by outcome, time spent or ? I also wonder how community groups and or civic organizations could be invited into the abundance? Do participants have to speak theatre/performance to understand the fundamental exchange? This too becomes about value, understood broadly.

    A worry: Is there the possibility that culture coin could serve as a band-aid for structural inequities? Meaning, what if an organization wants to extend their work into K-12 so they invite me to bring a group of students in to help create a structure allowing them to creatively build K-12 relationships. This potentially could be a wonderful activity reciprocally serving both my students and the organization. And be a way culture coin could grow capacity and then move into monetary exchange. Ideally, the organization would be so impressed they would hire one of my graduates to continue the program and grow it to the next level.

    But what if they continue to build programming without investing in building their organizational human capital—giving their new education relationship to their marketing director, for example. I suppose ultimately this is a worry about trust.

    • Thank you so much Stephani for posting this. Figuring out how to negotiate or assign value to an available “resource” that placed into circulation is a huge, probably the most important next step for us to figure out before we build the first internet-based prototype and pilot it in various communities. This will be commons and ethical values embodied in action and form.

      Using the Time Bank model, what do you about the unit of value being time spent? The fundamental shift in thinking is that everyone’s time no matter their perceive value in our current capitalist economy and culture is equal?

      • Stephani Etheridge Woodson

        I think the Time Bank model solves some problems. Will you create voluntary “best practices” memos of understanding to go along with the Culture Coins?

  • Seven Lively Arts

    My company, Seven Lively Arts, is creating unique cultural events in northeastern Oklahoma. The resources I have to offer include playwriting skills, creative problem solving skills, and a willingness to go out and make something happen.

    Offhand, I can think of three potential uses for Culture Coin.

    The first is the idea of “paying your dues.” When we start out in the arts (and sometimes far beyond that) there is an expectation that you will work for just the pleasure of pursuing your passion. I know too many people whose careers look like endless unpaid internships, with never a chance to shine. But what if all of that in-kind investment in others’ projects could be saved up in Culture Coins, to be spent on a dream project of their own?

    Or, what if Culture Coin enabled different groups to collaborate on large scale projects. I realize this is essentially one of your core ideas for the currency, but it comes to mind because I have been pondering a large-scale project that no one theater company could pull off on its own. But if Culture Coin could “monetize” their resources, from stage hands to mailing lists, then the collaboration process would be much more transparent–you’d know upfront what you were getting into, with no fear of some nebulous “working together” concept.

    Lastly, I think something like Culture Coin could be a tool for interacting with audiences. Most places I’ve lived, people dislike paying more for a live performance than they would for a movie ticket. This leads to shoestring productions, which in turn leads to shoestring expectations. Now, I love shoestrings, but now and then it’s nice to do something more ambitious. What if audiences could make partial or full payment for their tickets in Culture Coins? People could earn them through volunteering or in kind donation. The idea being that their efforts are reducing your cost, which allows them to pay less in cash. It’s a kind of transparency that would help break the illusion that live performance is cheap, while also creating a much more active, engaged audience base.

    • This is so exciting! Thanks for articulating all of this. It’s exactly how we’ve been thinking of what CULTURE COIN is and what it does.

      Allow me to distill your three uses/ideas:

      1) get resources to artists to enable them to create even more work. these are artists who already give so much and without much financial compensation.

      2) As a formalized system for collaboration, there’s more responsibility and commitment taken and given which will make working together better.

      3) Unleash resources that arts-goers have but are just not given the chance to.

      Thanks Seven Lively Arts!

    • Julie Fossitt

      Wow, I love these ideas. I think many arts patrons in my community would be excited at the prospect of volunteering their time in exchange for Culture Coins that could be cashed in for tickets. The idea of bartering in beautiful simplicity.

  • CSL, Playwright

    What I have:
    -Skills developed over 3 decades of teaching and playwriting which enable me to write good plays and to help other people write good plays. I create particularly fun and challenging roles for women of all ages.
    -As a parent, a public schools activist, and a volunteer mentor with community organizations serving diverse populations, I’m experienced working with teens and young adults to help them discover and define their goals and their strengths.
    -I own my home located near public transportation in the SF Bay Area and am very happy to share my small but comfortable living room for meetings and rehearsals.

    What I need:
    –Collaborators with production management skills, e.g. good with logistics, good with getting other people to do things … the sort of thing Catherine Castellani describes in her post.
    –Performance space
    –Collaborators with tech theatre and design skills

    • Thanks for these comments CSL. These all seem like resources and needs that could be put into circulation. It’s exciting to imagine your skills and resources being put to use as well as your needs getting met.

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  • Julie Fossitt

    I am an arts administrator, and continue to be surprised at the lack of ‘support’ from the private sector for arts organizations and individual artists. I have encountered so many artists producing fantastic work, but they don’t have the knowledge to know how to market it to the right people. There are many bloggers, PR professionals, journalists and other marketing professionals who would be a super asset to build capacity within arts organization and teach others. A ‘mission to market’ transformation needs to occur for cultural organizations to not only sustain operations, but to also grow, but this transformation needs the support of the professionals who really understand the business of marketing.

    • Thanks Julie for pointing this out. Do you think that there’s an untapped desire from PR professionals, marketers in the commercial sector to work with not-for-profit cultural/arts organizations—and that potentially these professionals would exchange their services for CULTURE COINS (instead of and/or in addition to national currency)? They’d be able to use their earned CULTURE COINS to maybe see a show or see an exhibit at another arts organization in their local town, or they could donate their COINS to anyone who wanted them.

      Do you think what’s currently preventing cultural/arts organizations from hiring highly skilled, experienced commercial sector marketers, PR professionals is that it’s just too expensive? If so, being able to pay in a complementary currency like CULTURE COIN would help meet that cash-strapped organization’s need to market better. What do you think?

      • Julie Fossitt

        I believe that there are many PR and marketing professionals that care about the cultural sector but have not been asked to partner with the organization in a volunteer or professional capacity. I believe that many of them would be expensive on a not-for-profit budget, but I bet an exchange of services for CULTURE COINS would be welcome!

        The challenge, of course, is how to access these professionals. Perhaps some online microvolunteering sites, or through social media would be a gateway to a more formal discussion. Alternatively, strategic alliances with professional associations would be another option. It would be great to do a survey to see if my hunch is actually true!

        • Thanks Julie. Other people have mentioned the intersection of non-arts goers with us in this new economy. You bring up a very good point that we need to figure out: how are we going to reach out to these people?

          • Julie Fossitt

            I think Twitter would be a great place to start. There are so many opportunities to connect with marketing and communications professionals on Twitter, that just to find out if this would be of interest to anyone would only take a few seconds and 140 characters!

          • Good advice Julie, and easy to do! Thanks.

  • cpeila

    Hello HowlRound. Am one of your fellow challenge groups and I love your project. I also will tap into your live streaming. We started live streaming our Sunday performances when I got here 6 years ago but the platform needed tending by a true IT Brain – we had one before he went off to research and develop new apps with the MIT and Brits scientists – we had to stop. That said! I love your project. And your questions are incredibly useful and the answers I’ve been reading are truly helpful even to DNA. It seems we are all trying to forge a new system that recognizes the depth of creative talent that each artist has – the known and the unknown. The strength of sweat equity and the issues that come with it. Being a DIY kinda community isn’t necessarily the best community.

    There are a number of interesting things happening in the cultural community including barter sites – product for talent/skill exchange; communities creating their own currency within the monetary ecosystem they’ve created – Brooklyn dollars; grass roots barter that works until someone finds they must earn a living from their once offered free skill set.

    1. For DNA what is underutilized is our human resources – our artists in residence are beginning to understand the power of the training professional – since very few artists can afford a company DNA provides them with artists desirous of working with a professional in the field and to support that artist’s development – refining a movement style, refining choreographic elements, learning how to choreographer to new music, create costume ideas, sets, etc… There is a desire and need for well trained bodies that challenge the choreographer, and the well trained bodies need their teachers to be better trained communicators, idea lenders, etc…it’s all practice. There is very little underutilized at DNA especially since we changed up the programming to be more flexible, adaptive to the artist and supportive of the community – what I feel is the problem is that we as an organization are under utilizing our artists and not offering them enough access to opportunity.

    2. Needed are organizations and artists willing to work with each other and share, within the field and cross-sector. I worked for an organization with a very healthy and active board and we created a community where the links all came from the board – in kind marketing, economic use of printing large company branding campaigns, shared advertising space, free spectacular space for gala and events, extravagant decorations, etc. These days the boards with such links include BAM, The Joyce, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, etc. If a list of barter / partnership friendly groups and artists said we’re here to see if we can meet needed resources then zappo it might work. DNA sometimes needs larger space for our classes or site specific space for our artists, sometimes we need rehearsal space for artists, someone to run or offer bar service, food, costumes and set materials, intellectual resources and branding support for artists and for the organization. DNA and its programs are about the artist and the community. We do not produce or train the exact same type of artist, nor the same style of dance so depending on the artist (faculty, performer, choreographer, trainee) we find we have different needs. But, the major categories are human resources for physical and intellectual processes, physical space, etc. What would be friggin amazing would be links across the country so if a dance company or any artist wanted to go to another state they could link into that group without necessarily having to pay agents $ for the extra time needed to search for connections. It makes it more support savvy. See.Me is a great site, I just found out about. Also, I believe is another how to DIY and barter site.

    I have a few road blocks I wonder how we can overcome with your system – the government has already initiated a taxation system on barter – how do we artists manage that when it arises? how do we create a collective? can we be protected and not cannibalized once it becomes successful?

    • Thank you Catherine for posting these responses, ideas, links, and concerns! We are absolutely thinking along the same lines, after the same ideals, and share a common ethos. Wouldn’t it be awesome if DNA could be one of the pilot, prototyping orgs for CULTURE COIN?! One of the huge challenges in our arts field is competition at the expense of another that’s a result of scarcity in funding, a scarcity in other kinds of resources (which is one of the social dynamics that this proposal seeks to transform). Scarcity—or perceived scarcity—pushes all of us to be competitors against our best intentions. We’re heartened that you’re in this for the bigger ideals of collaboration and collective co-creation for the benefit our entire arts community. Thanks for the work you do. Let’s play! xoxo.

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