For the year-end board meeting of Berkshire Creative, I just submitted some brief comments on the status of Assets for Artists, which I thought I would reproduce here for the wider world:
Asset for Artists Quarterly Update
In spring 2010, Assets for Artists enrolled 9 new participants with a major focus on Pittsfield artists (7 of the 9 coming from Pittsfield, thanks to funding from the City of Pittsfield’s Office of Community Development). It’s another very strong roster — to be announced shortly. They’ll be receiving their financial and business training over the summer. We just had our second home buyer closing (on a home in Pittsfield) on June 28 – fingers crossed at the time I’m writing this several days beforehand — and we are up to 5 participants in the microenterprise track who have utilized at least a portion of their savings and match funds, with several more likely to reach that milestone over the summer.
Year in Summary
Assets for Artists has continued to be led by Blair Benjamin of MASS MoCA, working in partnership with Berkshire Creative, the City of Pittsfield, and MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center. We worked with 29 artists this year throughout the various stages of the program. Collectively, the participants have saved more than $27,500 of their own funds for future investments, earned more than $33,500 of matching funds, and thus far have invested over $20,000 of the combined savings and match. Although state budget cutbacks have eliminated one major funding source and constrained the growth of Assets for Artists in the past year, grant renewals from the Mass Cultural Council and Berkshire Bank were encouraging signs of funder support for the program, and MASS MoCA was very fortunate to receive a new contract with the City of Pittsfield to allow us to offer a healthy number of new slots. The program is now in a planning process with Mass Cultural Council and others to consider expanding Assets for Artists beyond Berkshire County, with a goal to eventually make it statewide or even national: to be financially sustainable, the program must achieve greater scale and thus merit access to national funding sources, which would be difficult with an exclusive focus on Berkshire County.