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Okay. So what if….?

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Just spit balling here…but I just read a pretty exciting article called “Creating An Alternative Economy for Underpaid Artists With a Brand New Currency,” by Ben Schiller, a staff writer for Fast CoExist. It’s all about this new type of currency – the Culture Coin. As described on the ARTSFWD website, Culture Coin is “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.” And, this super awesome idea is brought to you by HowlRound.

HowlRound is trying to solve the problem of ‘sweat equity’ – a phrase I just heard for the first time today, but the meaning of it I have known for a very long time. Theater companies simply don’t have the CASH to pay everyone. The aim with Culture Coin is to figure out an alternative to cash – how else might artists get compensated for the work that they do so often for free?

AND, HowlRound is asking for your help – they are crowdsourcing the idea to see what artists HAVE and what they NEED – as a way to start figuring out how the Culture Coin might operate. You can go take a look right now at all of the fabulous comments that have started on this topic already – and then add some of your own: http://artsfwd.org/howlr-challenge-finalist/

So….along these lines, I was brainstorming with a fellow artist today over possible alternatives to the current system. There are so many empty store fronts!

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Rather than have the store fronts sit empty – what if they were loaned out to artists who could fill them until they were rented again? Possibly there could be some sort of umbrella organization that had insurance that could be loaned out to the artists so that the renters would feel more comfortable about loaning out the space? And, then perhaps the local convenient store or restaurant might begin to get some more foot traffic from the audiences that are viewing the work of that artist or theater company?

I wanted to see if this idea was happening anywhere else…so, I typed in ‘storefronts, empty, artists’ in the old google and low and behold I came across Shunpike and their Storefronts Seattle program. Shunpike helps bring artists together with property owners who are looking to fill their space while it goes unrented. According to the Storefronts Seattle Info page, the program is “funded through multiple city departments along with various neighborhood groups, business improvement associations, and merchants’ associations.” Makes sense – why wouldn’t these types of funders want to invest in a program that will ultimately show off their empty spaces and get them rented faster!

Wow…I hope other cities have Storefronts Seattle on their radar.

And, I wonder if anything like this…can work in with something like Culture Coin? I’ll think about it.

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One comment on “Okay. So what if….?

  1. Do you know about timebanking? I think an artists timebank is what you’re describing here. I’m part of a group that’s creating a community timebank in Seattle. There are timebanks all over the world. The US org is TimeBanks USA (url: http://timebanks.org/). Our local timebank url is wstb.tbanks.org.

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