2021 becomes 2022

It has become my annual ritual for the past 11 years to write a New Year’s Eve blog post, celebrating the launch of Creative Infrastructure on December 31, 2010. But let’s face it – blogs are so last decade…or maybe even the decade before. Both my blogging (this is only the fifth post of the year) and the readership have declined significantly this year (down to about 9000 from a high of over 200,000 in 2014).

Nevertheless, there were some very important milestones and transitions during 2021 worth noting. Quite unexpectedly, I left Los Angeles to return to New York to assume a new position as provost of Baruch College (CUNY). While on its surface this wasn’t because of the pandemic, can any transition in 2021 not have been affected by the pandemic?

Most noteworthy for readers of this blog, was the publication of Creative Infrastructures: Artists, Money, and Entrepreneurial Action. Many of the ideas in the book first saw the light of day here on the Creative Infrastructure blog. I started thinking about the book when I developed the ouroboros as a metaphor for arts entrepreneurship for a talk I gave in 2014 and began writing it in earnest in 2017. Despite working full time as an academic dean during the first year of pandemic, there was something about being sequestered and isolated at home that enabled me to finish it. I was working through the essays late in 2020 when I went to pick up the thread on “the next one” only to realize that I had indeed drafted all of them. So off it went to the publisher, from there to the reviewers, and back to me and then the copyeditor, layout editor and so on.

May be an image of text that says 'Infrastructures Action Creative Money Entrepreneurial Artists, and Essig Essig Creative Infras Essig Creative Creative Infrastructures Infrastructures Infrast ructures tructures Essig Linda S'
Author copies arrived earlier this month!

I hope you’ll read it – I poured my heart into it (as well as some real scholarship).

I want to acknowledge those who helped along the way, in this selection from the Prologue:

I am grateful to those interviewed: Jesse Armstrong, Betty Avila, Aaron Landsman, Larron Lardell, Lauren Lee, Sharon Louden (who also introduced me to editor Tim Mitchell), William Powhida, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Gregory Sale, Sarah Sullivan, Beth Ames Swartz, Clifton Taylor, Carlton Turner, Xanthia Walker, and Laura Zabel. These fifteen artists appear throughout the essays. They have been making a living and a life in the arts for five years or fifty, some part of an arts organization and others on their own; I thank them profusely for sharing their time with me and their talents with the world. The interview with Ed Marquand excerpted in Essay Nine was conducted in 2014 as part of a research project entitled “Value Creation by and Evaluation of Arts Incubators.”

The arts entrepreneurship learning journey that began in 2005 was informed by numerous colleagues and artists whom I met along the way through both professional conferences and chance social interaction. I listened to them as well, and they taught me much. Some who have had particular influence on the essays in this book are Kim Abeles, Kiley Arroyo, Laurie Baefsky, Jamie Bennett, Danielle Brazell, Bob Booker, Paul Bonin- Rodriguez, John Borstel, Adrienne Callander, Tom Catlaw, Woong- Jo Chang, Shelley Cohn, Jennifer Cole, Jaime Dempsey, Alexandre Frenette, Jonathan Gangi, Ruby Lopez Harper, Liz Lerman, Bronwyn Mauldin, Porsche McGovern, Jacob Meders, Tim Miller, Ian David Moss, Lauren Pacheco, Mark Rabideau, Diane Ragsdale, Esther Robinson, Michael Rohd, Rey Sepulveda, Gordon Shockley, E. Andrew Taylor, Neville Vakharia, Tatiana Vahan, Scott Waters, Jason White, Margaret Wyszomirski, and the late Sherry Wagner Henry. There are many more; I apologize if your name isn’t included here. During this same period, I launched the Creative Infrastructure blog, from which this collection gets its name and where I worked through many of the ideas that follow. I am grateful for the interactions I have had there with readers, especially Carter Gilles, whose questions and comments, while usually challenging, were always quite thoughtful. My graduate students at ASU have helped me to clarify and articulate my thinking by asking really smart questions. Joanna Guevara and Mollie Flanagan deserve special thanks for their coauthorship of several reports and studies. Some of these were developed with support from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, whose arts program manager, Heather Pontonio, has been an influence on me and the field.

Upon leaving ASU in 2018, I became dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA. I thank Lynn Mahoney, José Luis Alvarado, Jose Gomez, and President Bill Covino for their support of this project. Special thanks go to my assistant, Flora Saavedra- Hernandez, who helped me to carve a few hours a week (some weeks) out of an otherwise packed calendar.

Finally, thank you to my children, Simon and Monica, who grew into adulthood while I was learning, and to my loving partner Glenn, who has admirably sustained his own creative practice as a lighting designer for over thirty years.

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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