To Art & Profit featured on Sixty Inches From the Center!

“The term ‘starving artist’ makes most of us in the creative field cringe–and with good reason. Why should the shapers of our culture starve when they are the ones creating our legacy? When the topic of money comes up, why should it be an uncomfortable one? And, finally, why do we have the tendency to undervalue ourselves as artists, art scholars and art administrators, etc.–or allow others to?

These are some of the questions that the programming around the spring performance festival To Art + Profit: Creative Labor, Collective Action and Conscientious Capitalism at Links Hall will address. The brainchild of artists Meida McNeal and Abra Johnson, To Art + Profit invites the public to voice their thoughts and answers to these questions through conversation with people in our city who may have some insights to our money issues.” READ MORE…


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To Art & Profit Opens This Weekend!

Come out Friday and Saturday to Links Hall for the performances.  Then join us Sunday afternoon for a FREE community spectacle and panel discussion on the value of creativity in Logan Square.


Creative Labor, Collective Action & Conscientious Capitalism

Interdisciplinary performance series
arts-focused dialogues & street spectacles

Curated by Links Hall Artistic Associates
Abra Johnson & Meida McNeal

**MARCH 18-20**
What Is It Good For? Defining Art’s Purpose Now

Collaborating Artists:
Cristal Sabbagh & Roger Noel
J’Sun Howard & Jennifer Karmin with insight by Coya Paz
C.C. Carter, Sage Morgan Hubbard & Keli Stewart

8pm Fridays & Saturdays
at Links Hall, 3435 N.Sheffield

$10/Students, $12 General Admission, Group Rates Available

Sunday March 20 in Logan Square

Community performance spectacle at Voice of the City from 2-3pm
3429 W. Diversey Ave., Suite 208
Panel at Elastic Arts from 3:30-4:45pm
2830 North Milwaukee Avenue, 2nd Floor
For information on the panelists click here


8pm-12am Friday, March 25th

Suggested Donation $10

at Defibrillator, 1136 N.Milwaukee

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To Art & Profit on Artists Mean Business!

The To Art & Profit festival opens March 18 at Links Hall! Check out our interview with Jess Kaswiner. Get some details about how you can contribute your voice to the conversation. Support live art in Chicago!

Artists Mean Business, Episode 3: To Art & Profit

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The value of creativity

To Art & Profit was conceived by Abra and I in recognition of an ongoing conversation artists have about why they make their work. In this era of hard economic times, the question of why art matters rears its head for would-be audience and arts supporters, and especially for artists themselves. If I gotta pay bills and eat, that takes precedence over art, right? But what do we lose when we forget that creativity’s output produces not only economic capital? At its highest output, creativity is an investment in human flourishing. It can create space for critique and dialogue. Creativity catalyzes innovation.

We thought about how many times over the years we had talked about art’s role in our communities and the world, about the impact of art/creativity on consciousness, about art as a tool for better forms of human interaction. We discussed how we keep working to find value for all of this in a society that often privileges creative products over creative processes, individual over collaborative genius and art that fits a formula over art that challenges, risks and makes vulnerable.

We mulled over the ways we are driven to do our work. For over a decade, we have been engaged artistically, making works merging cultural politics, ethnography and performance to speak about the human experience and in particular about the experiences of women of color. Why do this work? Who is it for? What does it accomplish?  And more practically, how can one make a living doing this work? How is this work valued in economies of labor? How can the artist create interest – create her own market – for creative work?

We recognized that these kinds of questions and conversations were all around us, being had by artists in their own circles of influence. What would it be like to bring a group of artists across discipline and approach (and who don’t really know each other) together to discuss the value of creativity? Would they find commonality in their concerns and practical issues as they commit to, at least some part, of their lives as artists? Could they be honest and vulnerable about their struggles and their accomplishments? Would they share resources and perhaps, find new tools to add to their creative approaches? To Art & Profit is our creative laboratory to find out.

The festival pulls together a range of formats in which to address our ideas about the value of creativity. Performances, panel dialogues and public spectacle offer different kinds of spaces to engage each other activating the body, activating the voice and hopefully, activating a sense of community among Chicago’s cultural workers.  By offering a forum for artists to bring to light the time and energy it takes to make their work as well as acknowledging the balancing acts required to produce their work, we strive to energize our local artists. We recognize the artist’s ideas about why and how s/he continues a commitment to making creative work. We hope to ignite a conversation that blossoms into other forms of sustained creative expression and community dialogue in our city’s neighborhoods, from sharing resources for spaces and technical support to venturing out into parts of the city we may not usually explore to experience creativity, to getting to know other kinds of creative work outside our individual comfort zones of art practice.

By asking the question “What is the value of creativity?” we open the door to dialogue.  So, interact with us on the blog. Join us for the performances and panels. And, come be a part of the public spectacle every month.  Come show your support and share your thoughts about why and how art matters.



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Share your thoughts…

Should states invest in the arts to support creative labor when industrial labor is disappearing?

Kansas is slated to be the only state without statewide funding for the arts if the governors’ proposal to eliminate the Art Commission succeeds.

Over the past decade funding for the arts in Michigan has been cut by 90 percent, from $26 million to a paltry sum of $2.5 Million this past year.

” Arts funding for the state (Michigan) is just around two-and-a-half million dollars. As a comparison: Michigan taxpayers will spend more on prisons in 11 hours than they spend on arts and culture in the entire year.”

Click the links below to clue into the state of the arts in places like Michigan and Kansas.

Kansas Cuts State Funding for the Arts

The Cost of Creativity

Email: if you’d like to contribute your own blog post speaking to issues related to the value of art and creativity in contemporary society.

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To Art and Profit: performance, dialogue, spectacle

To Art and Profit is an Artistic Associate Festival at Links Hall in Chicago, IL spearheaded by Abra Johnson and Meida McNeal.

Check back here for updates about the festival, musings and discoveries from the curators and artists.

Spread over three weekends from March through May 2011, To Art & Profit is a dance and performance series augmented with arts-focused dialogues and Carnival-inspired street theatre spectacle throughout the city of Chicago.


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