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Mayor launches survey to aid artists

Mayor Tim Keller

Journal Staff Writer

Albuquerque leaders want to know what keeps local artists up at night.

Are they worried about money? Finding workspace? Promoting their projects?

The city this week began asking exactly those questions as part of a new initiative intended to help individual artists – from pianists to painters, dancers to designers – power through roadblocks that can threaten their professional progress.

Mayor Tim Keller said the goal is to “institutionalize” a support system through the Tipping Points for Creatives program, a joint effort between Albuquerque’s Economic Development and Cultural Services departments.

“This a big rub (for artists): ‘How can I make a career in the creative economy – not just a side hustle?'” Keller said during a Monday news conference. “Trying to do that is a lot about what we’re announcing today.”

Exactly how the city will aid specific artists remains somewhat nebulous, and Tipping Points organizers say that’s by design.

Dafina McMillen, a consultant serving as the program’s lead, said the artists will help determine the course through their feedback. The current survey – available online at and due by March 31 – will lead to a series of group discussions and meetings this spring. From there, she said, organizers will understand better what resources artists need and, ideally, how the city or other organizations can provide them.

“The city has access to an array of tools: performance space, promotion and marketing vehicles, financial experts, training programs, photographers and more,” she said. “We’ll also work collaboratively with partners to pull their resources and services and play collective matchmaker.”

Economic Development Director Synthia Jaramillo said Tipping Points will have an educational curriculum to train artists with chores like writing business plans or bookkeeping.

“Sometimes we don’t equate an artist as being as solo-entrepreneur, so it’s exciting to me to really support those artists to really start to think and function like a small business owner,” she said.

Jaramillo said the administration has proposed a fiscal year 2020 budget that includes Tipping Points funding in her department and Cultural Services, but declined to specify the amount since the City Council has yet to approve it.