50 Ways to Support Female Artists

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Celebrate good times, come on!

At the heart of the gender parity debate–in my humble opinion–is a determination of value. What we value, what we perceive has value, we encourage and support. By not supporting gender parity (or diversity in accolades, or different abilities in casting), we’re essentially saying “this work has lesser value.” But we know that’s not true.

And we also know that sometimes it isn’t a value judgement, rather, maybe someone just needs a little help with how to show their support. The Five Love Languages don’t always necessarily work between artists and their friends and patrons, or between organizations and staff or funders and grantees.

In the spirit of Love Month, here are fifty ways to show love to the female-identified artists in your world.[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Maybe someone just needs a little help with how to show their support[/pullquote] The easiest thing to do is to inquire about your artist’s work with genuine interest. Treat their art for the work and meaning it is to them.

  1. Spend money on them.
    Buy their paintings or sculptures or photographs or books, etc.
    Buy tickets to their dance/music/theater/etc performances.
    Buy their supplies.
    Buy whatever is their favorite work drink.
    Buy their favorite after-work drink.
    Buy time in a rehearsal space.
    Buy the rights for their next play.
    Buy an hour with a life coach to get their art out into the world in a bigger way.
    Buy their advertising space.
    Buy them a massage.
    Buy multiple copies of their book and give it to people in a public way.
    Find out their favorite female artist and buy a piece of their work or tickets to a performance.
    Funders need to shift away from simple project expenses to living expenses so artists can make art without having a day job as well, if they want.
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  2. Give them uninterrupted time and space to make art.
    Research artist residencies or professional development opportunities for their art form.
    Help arrange plans for them to attend.
    Run lines with an actor.
    Do the dishes while a director maps out scene transitions.
    Help set up a studio with natural lighting.
    Block off good space at home or school for your artists to use. Set up a firm schedule.
    Encourage the weekly group practice session.
    If you have a business space, offer its use free-of-charge after hours to a local female theater group.
    Arts organizations can explore different work and business structures, much like Elevator Repair Service, in order to provide wages and stability to their artists, rather than filling one job for one performance.[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Geniune interest and time go a long way.[/pullquote]
  3. Provide childcare.
    Create a kid-positive culture in your arts organization.
    Do not shame an artist parent for bringing their kid to their work (safety considerations having been made).
    Arrange for a babysitting service for all or a portion of night-time rehearsals.
    Block out art-creating time and tell the kids it is just like their school or the non-arts parent’s work time.
    For babies-toddlers: make sure the female artist is spending adult time with other female artists (also, sleep).
    New motherhood is difficult, and the pull of artistic creation is strong, so cheer any amount of art made during those early years.
    For elementary kids: encourage their own artistic pursuits while the artistic parent is creating.
    For middle-schoolers or teenagers: praise the female artist in the house, talk about the importance of their work.
    Not a parent? Artist friends don’t have kids? Find a school and volunteer in the arts classroom.
  4. Advocate for gender parity.
    Financially support art shows, dance and theater presentations, music performances, and bookstores that feature 50%+ women.
    Question artistic representatives who are not inclusive.
    In leadership roles, encourage blind submissions for plays, paintings, or whatever art form is being called for. Make it about the art.
    Encourage ways to include artists in non-arts local organizations working on gender parity.
    Nominate female artists or organizations for local economic development awards.
    Remove gender-binary or gendered talk when discussing art forms around kids. Impressions that “boys don’t dance” or “girls aren’t scientists” abound in mass media; keeping those myths from perpetuating is important for advocating for our future artists.
    Find out if prices charged are commensurate with work. One of the reasons women earn less than male counterparts in similar positions is that women are not as good at negotiating a higher salary. The same could be extrapolated to what artists charge for their product. Mark it up.
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  5. Edify.
    “To instruct or benefit spiritually; uplift”
    Celebrate Galentine’s Day.
    Support your fellow female artists with gratitude for their work.
    Share empathy with their struggles.
    Form a Philanthropy Circle with fellow artists: could be money, time, or other resources you share with each other or other local artists.
    Heap praise when they are accorded accolades.
    Refresh their love of the art between projects.
    Give honest feedback on the art only if asked; otherwise, simply bolster the accomplishment of putting the art out for the world to see.
    Be a mentor to a newer practitioner (could be a young person, could be an older person).
    Go see each other’s shows, preferably as a group.
    Hang the painting she gave you, even if it doesn’t match the couch.
    Read the book.

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