“What’s the shared vision, and how can we help move that forward?”
2020 has been a year like no other. For Artist Trust, it brought challenges, growth, and transformation. Between the global pandemic and nationwide uprising for racial justice, we learned to embrace change, show strength in the face of uncertainty and think deeply about what our work means in the context of a transforming world. From now through December 31st as part of our end of year campaign, you’ll hear from Artist Trust staff & board about their work, the lessons they’ve learned this year, what they hope for in 2021, and their vision for a stronger Artist Trust.
First up, Acting Director Kristina Goetz:
What is your role at Artist Trust and what do you enjoy about it?
I’m currently serving as Acting Executive Director at Artist Trust. Previously, I was the Director of Development since 2015. I love collaboration, and I am interested in doing work that is thoughtful and centers community through a lens of racial and social justice. I am a good listener, and I am genuinely interested in learning and understanding the perspectives of others. I’ve always felt like it is a gift that I get to make a living supporting artists. I get to do that every day, and all the time work to do it more intentionally, and better, besides colleagues who are smart and funny and kind. The way folks have shown up for Artist Trust this year: our staff, our board, our artist and donor communities. To say I enjoy that is really such an understatement. I’m so thankful to work in and with these people and communities. In this year of strangeness and dark, they’ve been a guiding light.
How are you involved in the arts?
I’ve worked in the arts my entire professional career, so that’s one way I have been involved. I’m also surrounded by artists – whether that means my partner and our greater friend community and family, my neighbors, or my extended circle of friends. My long-time partner is Simon Henneman, a guitarist and composer who plays in a wide variety of projects and genres. My first home in Seattle was the old Josephine arts space (still an arts space but now known by its historic name, the Woodland Theatre). I have strong affinities to some specific arts and music communities here, including those that have formed around the Racer Sessions, the Royal Room, as well as the former Josephine space. I used to work at The Vera Project, and I have been a sometimes organizer of shows most of my life, both here in Seattle as well as in Florida where I used to live. My current home is in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood, and it’s been an absolute joy to be able to call artists that have long worked in the Duwamish River Valley my neighbors and friends. I’m also a patron, an art collector when I can be, a reader of books and poems, and a watcher of films.
What has 2020 taught you both personally and professionally?
That community will stick together even if it can’t happen in physical space. That it’s important to check in on folks, and not let anyone fall through the cracks. How very clear it is what many of us had already known: there is no social safety net in this country, and that black and brown folks continue to withstand the worst of our society’s history of injustice. It underscored how I can shape my personal and professional life to be able to change that, even if it is in my own small way. I also learned that my boyfriend doesn’t think I’m nearly as funny as my friends do. I miss my friends.
How will you carry those lessons into 2021?
I’m interested in a short-term future that welcomes many voices so we can create a shared vision of what a longer-term future should look like. I’d like to carry forward this idea of prioritizing self and community care in our work and life.
What excites you about what you’ve learned/the changes Artist Trust has made or will make?
I’m excited for radical honesty, listening, learning, action, and reinvention.
What is your vision for a stronger Artist Trust?
It’s not really about my vision. What’s the shared vision, and how can we help move that forward? But I will tell you something I keep coming back to. There’s a poster by an artist named Ricardo Levins Morales who works out of Minneapolis. I remember seeing it in Key West, in a bookstore I would spend time in when I was growing up there in the 90s. It says,
“If you give me a fish, you have fed me for a day. If you teach me to fish, you have fed me until the river is contaminated or the shoreline seized for development. But if you teach me to organize, then whatever the challenge, I can join together with my peers and we will fashion our own solution.”
Using that as a frame, what has this moment of COVID-19, of the Open Letter, taught us about what it means to support artists? About how this moment should change us? Certainly, grants and professional development for artists statewide are very important and will remain so. Our work centering BIPOC artists is very important and will remain so. But what about the power of artists as organizers and advocates? What if Artist Trust helped artists replicate that power? What would it look like if our ultimate vision was to put ourselves out of business because through our work artists have the support they need from community, from society, and from each other?