Wednesday, December 23, 2009



Now being a freelance artist I am now addressing my own need for health insurance. It is an incredible cost and sometimes seems a luxury expense to a healthy young individual. But of course it is not a luxury, as a dancer, when ones' body is the primary tool to the art being created.

See the house bill here.

As the healthcare reform bill goes before the senate here are a couple quick thoughts from Dance/USA.

Dance/USA Statement on Health Insurance Reform
Dance/USA supports health insurance reform that ensures the existence of accessible and affordable insurance for all individuals, including those self-employed and in non-employer groups, and organizations involved in the creation and presentation of dance in the United States. In addition, Dance/USA supports health care legislation that includes measures that provide incentives to nonprofit employers that are equivalent to those provided to for-profit employers.

Many individuals in the dance field are young and often self-employed. Many dance organizations operate on small budgets and may be unable to offer health insurance benefits to employees. According to research conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts (2003-2005 American Community Survey):

  • Professional dancers and choreographers are the youngest group of artists with a median age of 26 and 80.8% under the age of 35.
  • Only 25% of professional dancers and choreographers work full-time year-round; 22% are self-employed.
  • In 2005, the median income was $20,000 for professional dancers and choreographers.

And, according to data collected by RAND Compare and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Compensation Survey in 2007:

  • Households with income of less than $25,000 (in 2007 dollars) are nearly three times as likely to be uninsured as are households with incomes of $75,000 or more.
  • By age, the majority of the uninsured are under the age of 35.
  • 24% of part-time private-industry workers have access to medical health care benefits.

In addition, according to studies done by Dance/USA between 2001 and 2006, a majority of dance artists hold an average of four part-time jobs, most of which do not carry health insurance. Some of the most common examples of part-time work include serving as a choreographer, performer, dance instructor, part-time dance administrator (often at different organizations) and/or part-time work outside the dance field.

Dance/USA has sought to share information on the health insurance reform proposals with our membership, and we encourage our members to take action in accordance with their own personal beliefs and values.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Coming up! DanceNYC mid-year symposium

Great things are brewing at Dance/NYC. For those that are not familiar with Dance/ NYC it is a New York based extension of Dance/USA- the industry organization for dance. Basically they are the central "go-to" organization for all the companies, genres and dancers in New York. The resources, advice and programs that they provide are a great undertaking.

Coming up they are hosting a symposium that is meant to serve as a vehicle for the dance community to come together and think about various arts related issues. There is plenty of guided discussion, time to network and meet fellow artists, and also informative break-out sessions.

Below is the flyer with all the information, it promises to be a great event. See you there!

Monday, October 26, 2009

An article by Liz Lerman

A Proposed Job Swap To Save American Capitalism

By Liz Lerman

Do Wall Street executives deserve big bonuses during hard times? Does increased arts funding have a place in an economic stimulus package? I’ll leave it to others to debate these controversies. Meanwhile I’d like to make a modest proposal to solve some of our economic problems: Let’s do a job swap. We’ll put the corporate executives to work as artists while the artists run Wall Street.

Since their first task will be getting economic markets back on solid footing, I’m convinced that artists have the perfect resum├Ęs for their new jobs. Here’s why:

1. Artists work ridiculous hours for no pay. And most of the artists I know will keep working until they get the job done right.

2. Artists do not need fancy offices. In fact, they usually work in the worst part of town … until that part of town becomes fancy because the artists are there. Then they have to move because they haven’t paid themselves enough to afford the new rent.

3. Artists throw everything they earn back into the store – which is why they haven’t paid themselves enough. (I will admit that there was one time I didn’t do this. When I was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship back in 2002, I decided to open my first retirement account. I put the money in “very safe” stock market investments. I would have been better off putting it into my next dance.)

4. Artists do not need financial incentives. Artists do the work they do because they love it. Or because they believe in it. Or because they think it is a social necessity for our communities. Or because they know when people make poems or pictures or dances, our best human spirits emerge.

5. Artists do not expect to get anything if they do a bad job. Except maybe a bad review.

6. No artist gets a bonus because there is never enough money at the end of a project.

7. Artists keep very tight budgets. They know how to spend the same penny over and over (not by cooking the books, but by pinching, recycling, borrowing, bartering and plowing their economy-airline frequent-flyer miles back into the next project.)

8. Artists have a rightful reputation for fresh ideas combined with a capacity for self-evaluation that borders on recrimination.

9. Artists play well with others, having evolved highly efficient collaborative techniques in the service of their visions. But they are also very independent, delivering great things even when they work alone.

Meanwhile, in their new capacities as painters, poets, cellists and choreographers, our Wall Street executives might be experiencing a combination of culture shock therapy and ethical boot camp. Artistic practice may force them to discover what they really believe in, because the combination of introspection, discipline and craft that fuels an artist’s work (oh, and it is work) puts people in a very demanding state of truth. Doing what artists do every day, some might find themselves in overcrowded classrooms, excited to share their practices to help young people discover that they actually can learn. Others might be sparked to help communities solve problems by bridging differences through the unique power of their art forms. Those who have been lucky enough to get funded for their work will likely be staying up nights, filling out multiple forms to prove the exact use of the money they have been granted. All will find their moral compasses tested as they balance the demanding loyalties of pursuing personal vision and creating value for an audience.

The job swap I propose might have a final payoff: With artists in charge of Wall Street, you might even see people donate to the cause because artists know how to inspire others to participate together, to work for something that matters, to build on the intangibles of the human experience, to make a difference.

Imagine that kind of Wall Street.

Choreographer Liz Lerman is founding artistic director of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, Md., and a 2002 MacArthur Fellow. Over the next two months her company will be appearing in Ann Arbor, San Francisco, Houston, Bloomington, Burlington, Sapporo, Japan and the rainforest of Guyana.

Original CAN/API publication: March 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Degree Dance Collective

I had the pleasure of meeting two savvy young New York dancer/administrator/choreographers last week. They have begun an organization called Degree Dance Collective that, according to their vision statement, is an ensemble of dance artists living in New York City united by their baccalaureate degrees in dance and who are artistically invested in creating in new dance works and committed to remaining engaged in the dance field by utilizing the contacts and knowledge garnered through their formal education.

Degree Dance Collective offers biweekly networking events, dance workshops with various teachers and choreographers, as well as group dance seeing events.

Although I don't have a degree in dance, I do see the need for this kind of organization in the New York dance scene. There is so much opportunity here that distilling your path, amidst it all and without distraction, is a constant struggle. Additionally, all the education or performing experience in the world do not prepare one for the challenges of finding a place in a new scene as vast as New York. Kudos to Degree Dance Collective for creating something vibrant, new and effective!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Just Give

I just found a great resource for fundraising and philanthropic efforts. is a website that links to over 1.5 million charities and makes it easy to give by category or location. You can set up single or recurring donations and gift donations. They run these transactions privately and securely; plus they will make tax time easier by setting up a complete list of all your donations.

Additionally non-profits can utilize JustGive to collect donations for their organization. This potentially cuts a large amount of administrative work at a nominal expense. You can add a button to your website for free and it will collect donations, take care of tax information and provide online donor reports.

In the non-profit sector we are so reliant upon donations, I recently wondered about the reciprocity of others' generosity. I am determined that part of my new adventures include more philanthropy- of money and self. Interestingly the JustGive website give the following guideline on giving:

How Much to Give

What's the Average?
The average American gives about 3.1% of their income (before taxes) to charity, an increase from previous years but still well below the traditional 10% "tithe" for charity recommended by religious institutions.

Who Gives the Most?
The people that give the most actually make the least. Households earning under $10,000 a year -- far below the poverty line -- gave 5.2% of their income to charity. That's a larger percentage of their money than any other income group.

What's the Bottom line?
The average household donates $1,620 each year. That's just three dollars a day. Learn more.

You Make the Difference:
Did you know that individuals give 75% of all the money that charities receive? If we all give our fair share, no one will go hungry and no child will grow up in poverty. Sound idealistic? Everything depends on how we spend our money.

Give 5!
While 3.1% is the average, there is a movement to give more. Independent Sector, a coalition of nearly 800 corporations, foundations, and private voluntary organizations, is encouraging us to "Give 5" -- donate 5% of our income and volunteer 5 hours of our time each week.

It All Adds Up:
The amount of money and time that we alone can give may seem small but together as part of a national -- even global -- giving movement we are able to make dramatic changes in the quality of life on this small planet.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


The first three letters of these two words are the same, but rarely do these two words share much in common. Fundraising is a necessary part of a dance project or companies existence. Ticket revenue, or earned revenue, rarely comes close to recouping the costs of labor, music rights, costume and marketing a show. Growing the audience base is one component to making a show financially successful, but equally, "making the ask" is part of the equation.

I am currently working with a summer company in the beautiful blue ridge mountains of North Carolina called Terpsicorps. Under the direction of former North Carolina Dance Theater member, Heather Maloy, Terpsicorps really does things a little different....and makes fundraising FUN!

First the company is set up as a summer only experience. It therefore employes dancers who are off contract from other companies around the country. Terpsicorps' budget is smaller than a typical ballet company by the abbreviated season as well. (The dancers are generously hosted by families and dance supporters in the Asheville area.) It serves to provide dance to the mid-sized community of Asheville, NC and also attracts the influx of summer tourists.

Some of the FUN we have had this summer included a pre-release screening of "Every Little Step" a documentary on the making and re-making of A Chorus Line. And next, including commercial to promote it, the BOWL-A-THON!

Yes, dancers and fun lovers bowling together for a cause. And to prove the fun that has already been had and what other fun will come is a commercial:

And if you feel so inclined, you can support this event- even from afar- and pledge here. Check out the slick custom designed website that accepts your pledges online- another wave of the future.

Fun Fundraising really does exist!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Son Lux- a must hear


I just performed with this artist in Minneapolis.  Ryan Lott is the artist and an incredible one.  

My next post will be more musings on this experience.  

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A day late and a peso short....

I have been in Cali, Columbia performing with an international dance festival. Being in a foreign land and still dancing I feel connected to National Dance Week.

The official National Dance Week website offers advocacy tools as well as links to proclamations and guides to youth activities. Here is a state-by-state listing of National Dance Week events.

A message for 2009 about National Dance Week:

The future of dance lies where there are persons who do not dance.

These belong to two categories: those who simply did not learn, and those who think that they are not able to dance. They represent the greatest challenge for the dance teacher's profession.

In line with UNESCO's struggle against prejudice and discrimination, we are trying to expand the boundaries of dance and to change the current perception of what a dancer is.

Dance performances are not necessarily exhibitions of extreme physicality, accurate precision, or bursting emotion - they can be celebrations of interaction between performers. We can enrich dance concerts with dancers, singers, actors, narrators, mimes, acrobats etc., of all ages and all degrees of ability.

Bringing the 'excluded' into dance is a moral duty, but also opens a great door in times of economic crisis and unemployment. In every country there are millions of persons with physical or mental disabilities. We believe they are ready to dance.

They will create jobs to thousands of dance teachers. They can be assisted by the Ministry of Health, whose budget is many times bigger than that of the Ministry of Culture.

Integrating marginalized persons into the practice of dance is as important as integrating them into the workforce.

CID holds to the philosophy that everyone can dance.

Dance Day 2009 is dedicated to inclusive dance. Let us include all members of society into our classes and our performances.

Prof. Alkis Raftis

President of the International Dance Council CID



1. The official Dance Day message is mailed to over 150,000 dance professionals in 200 countries. It is translated to dozens of languages. Please ask for a translation, or translate the message to the language of your country; send it to dance organizations and the media. You can find guidelines and previous messages at the CID web site.

2. Dance Day has been established in view of attracting attention to the art of dance, every year on the 29th of April. On that day, dance companies, dance schools, organizations and individuals, professionals as well as amateurs, are asked to organize an activity addressing an audience larger than their usual one.

3. The International Dance Council (Conseil International de la Danse - CID) is the official umbrella organization for all forms of dance in all countries of the world.

- CID is recognized by UNESCO, national and local governments, international organizations and institutions.

- Its members are the most prominent federations, associations, schools, companies and individuals in more than 150 countries.

- It is the supreme forum bringing together international, national and local organizations, as well as prominent individuals active in dance.

- It was founded in 1973 within the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, where it is based.

- UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Yes we know that the economy is struggling. I need to update the struggling company list on this blog which makes me very sad. However it is now time to think outside the box and bring fresh life to those endeavors which make art.

A friend recently emailed me about a trip to South Africa that her company is taking. To help facilitate this they have created a sponsorship package. It is a brilliant means to individually fund a project. I have posted her package here. Please feel free to help if you can, and also see the courageous model that has been made for another way to raise funds.

Sponsor the 2009 International EduDance Program
Bridging the Opportunities Gap Through the Arts

About The International Dance In Education (EduDance) Program

Endorsed by the Embassy of South Africa and the National Association of People With AIDS, the

International EduDance Program teaches leadership, self-esteem, and civic responsibility to youth in
economically challenged communities across the globe. Utilizing our unique brand of EduDance to integrate
research-based human development curricula with rigorous dance training, the International Dance in
Education Program will launch a pilot project in the township of Sebokeng, South Africa in August of 2009.
In addition to delivering a month-long, culturally sensitive youth empowerment program, the 2009
International EduDance program will promote increased use of the arts in schools to enhance teaching and
learning, and to create employment for local performing artists. A percentage of funds contributed by
program sponsors will provide much needed financial relief to participating schools in the form of classroom
supplies and textbooks.

About Lesole’s Dance Project:

Lesole’s Dance Project (LDP) is a Maryland-based 501c(3) nonprofit dance company that teaches and
performs traditional and urban South African-, and afro-fusion dance. LDP has performed alongside artists
of international acclaim at such prestigious venues as Wolfe Trap and the Kennedy Center. LDP also
provides cultural enrichment and educational programs to elementary-, middle-, and high school students
across the United States.

Be among proud sponsors of the 2009 International EduDance Program and receive national
recognition for your support of positive youth development in developing nations. To initiate your
sponsorship, please select one of the sponsorship packages below, and submit the attached sponsorship commitment form.


Sponsorship Packages

Underwriter Level $7,500 (Limited to three Sponsors)
Highest recognition at LDP’s 2009 Annual Show (June 30th)!
• Prominent logo display on event signage at LDP Annual Show
• Opportunity to make remarks from the podium
• Two-page spread advertisement in the Annual Show event program
• Logo display on front cover of the Annual Show program
• Ten (15) complimentary event passes
• Logo display and acknowledgement in print ‘save the date’ mailing
Highest recognition at South African Embassy Co-Sponsored Events!
• Invitation and opportunity to make remarks at a post-program showcase VIP reception hosted by the
South African Embassy in Washington DC.
• Opportunity to make remarks from the podium at the South African Freedom Day picnic.
• Tent and exhibit table at the South African Freedom Day picnic.
• Prominent logo display on event signage at the South African Freedom Day picnic.
In Country Recognition
• Prominent logo display on event signage at youth performances at Vereenigeng Civic Theatre in South
• Company logo and description on LDP’s website through the close of the 2009 calendar year.
• Logo and acknowledgement in LDP’s electronic newsletter.

Angel Level $5,000 (Limited to Six Sponsors)

Recognition at LDP’s 2009 Annual Show!
• Logo display on event signage at LDP Annual Show
• Full-page ad in Annual Show event program
• Logo inside Annual show program
• Ten (10) passes to LDP Annual Show
• Logo display and acknowledgement in print ‘save the date’
Recognition at South African Embassy Co-Sponsored Events!
• Invitation to attend, and verbal recognition from the podium at post-program showcase VIP
reception hosted by the South African Embassy.
• Verbal acknowledgement from the microphone at the South African Embassy’s Freedom Day
• Tent and exhibit table at the South African Embassy’s Freedom Day picnic.
• Prominent event signage at the South African Embassy’s Freedom Day picnic.
In Country Recognition
• Prominent logo display on event signage at youth performances at Vereenigeng Civic Theatre
in South Africa
• Company logo and description on LDP’s website through the close of the 2009 calendar year.
• Logo and acknowledgement in LDP’s electronic newsletter.

Champion Level $2,500

Recognition at LDP’s 2009 Annual Show (June 30th)!
• Company name display on event signage at LDP Annual Show
• Half-page ad in Annual Show program
• Logo display inside Annual show program
• Total of five (5) passes to attend LDP Annual Show events
• Logo display and acknowledgement in print ‘save the date’
Recognition at South African Embassy Co-Sponsored Events!
• Invitation to post-program showcase VIP reception hosted by the South African Embassy in
Washington DC.
• Company name listed on event signage at the South African Embassy’s Freedom Day picnic.
In Country Recognition
• Company name display on event signage at youth performances at Vereenigeng Civic Theatre
in South Africa
• Company logo and description on LDP’s website through the close of the 2009 calendar year.
• Logo and acknowledgement in LDP’s electronic newsletter.

Benefactor Level $1,000

Recognition at LDP’s 2009 Annual Show (June 30th)!
• Quarter-page ad in Annual Show program
• Company name listed inside event program
• Four (4) passes to Annual Show
• Company name and acknowledgement in print ‘save the date’
Recognition at South African Embassy Co-Sponsored Events!
• Invitation to post-program showcase VIP reception hosted by the South African Embassy in
Washington DC.
• Recognition on event signage at the South African Embassy’s Freedom Day picnic.
In Country Recognition
• Company name display on event signage at youth performances at Vereenigeng Civic Theatre in South
• Company logo and description on LDP’s website through the close of the 2009 calendar year.
• Logo and acknowledgement in LDP’s electronic newsletter during three consecutive months.

Supporter Level $500

Recognition at LDP’s 2009 Annual Show (June 30th)!
• Company name listed inside each Annual Show event program
• Company name and acknowledgement in print ‘save the date’
• Three (3) passes to attend LDP Annual Show events
Recognition at South African Embassy Co-Sponsored Events!
• Invitation to post-program showcase VIP reception hosted by the South African Embassy in
Washington DC.
• Company name listed on event signage at the South African Embassy’s Freedom Day picnic.
• Company logo and description on LDP’s website through the close of the 2009 calendar year.
• Logo and acknowledgement in LDP’s electronic newsletter

Friend Level $250

Recognition at LDP’s 2009 Annual Show (June 30th)!
• Company name and acknowledgement in print ‘save the date’ mailing
• Company name listed inside Annual Show program
• Two (2) passes to attend the LDP Annual Show during 2009 calendar year
Recognition at South African Embassy Co-Sponsored Events!
• Invitation to post-program showcase VIP reception hosted by the South African Embassy in
Washington DC.
• Company name displayed on event signage at the South African Embassy’s Freedom Day picnic.
• Company logo and description on LDP’s website through the close of the 2009 calendar year.
2009 International EduDance Program

Sponsorship Commitment Form

Please complete this form to confirm your sponsorship of the 2009 International EduDance Program.

Primary Contact:

(Contact with authority to commit funds.)
Secondary Contact:
(Contact for benefits delivery, if different. i.e.: Marketing Manager,
Communications Director)
Name:_________________________________________ _


Underwriter $7,500 Angel $5,000 Champion $2,500
Benefactor $1,000 Supporter $500 Friend $250


Check enclosed (Make checks payable to Lesole’s Dance Project.)
Please charge my credit card:
Visa MasterCard American Express
Card Number: ______________________________________ Expiration Date: ____________
Name as Displayed on Card: _____________________________________________________
Signature: ____________________________________________________________________

Please invoice me for Installment Payment(s) at a future date:

One (1) Installment on ________________________________________________________
Two (2) Installments of 50% each on ______________________ and ___________________
(Deadline to submit all installment payments is June 12th, 2009)


We agree to the payment terms as listed above on this form.


Signature: _______________________ Date: _______ ________________________
Name (please print): ___________________________
Lesole Z. Maine

Title (please print): ____________________________ Artistic Director

Please Return Form to:

Lesole Z. Maine
Artistic Director
Lesole’s Dance Project
P.O. Box 10132
Silver Spring, MD 20914
Phone: (240) 744-6693

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Forsythe watch.

I consider this subject as a resource to the always cutting edge/ always inspiring projects of William Forsythe. I have worked briefly with dancers that collaborated with Forysthe; all will attest to the evolution of Forysthe's process and his consideration of what art means to a greater world.

Today OSU and the Forsythe company released a beta version of a new project which links choreography to science.

The press release states:
The Ohio State University and choreographer William Forsythe announce the April 1, 2009 launch of the interactive web project, "Synchronous Objects for One Flat Thing, reproduced". Focusing on Forsythe’s complex ensemble dance "One Flat Thing, reproduced", the project presents an original collection of screen-based visualizations (video, digital artwork, animation, and interactive graphics) that reveal interlocking systems of organization in the choreography. The project aims to appeal to a broad public from diverse fields including but not limited to dance. Forsythe explains, “The project starts from the recognition that choreography is an organizational practice that employs fundamental creative strategies relevant to other domains.”

Synchronous Objects will be available online to the public on April 1, 2009 at:

A symposium to celebrate the launch of the project will be held at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH at 3 pm on April 1 (concurrent with the opening of the Wexner Center exhibition William Forsythe: Transfigurations). For international audiences, the symposium participants will contribute to an e-symposium online April 1.

The project is the result of a collaboration between The Forsythe Company, based in Germany, and researchers at The Ohio State University from design, dance, computer science, geography, statistics and architecture who work together at OSU’s Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). Creative Directors William Forsythe, Maria Palazzi (ACCAD/Department of Design), and Norah Zuniga Shaw (ACCAD/Department of Dance) describe the research as a process in which choreographic ideas are the source of information for the composition of unique visual objects. These objects enable the ideas in the choreography to be quickly grasped in their entirety and suggest new interpretations.
“This process of transformation from a dance to a choreographic object requires cross-disciplinary collaboration, and in our community at ACCAD we have found that thinking in this way makes space for new connections between art and science, practice and theory,” explains Zuniga Shaw. Adds Palazzi: “People will access the information in the site in many ways. We want this to be a space of discovery.”

Forsythe, formerly the director of the Frankfurt Ballet (Germany) and now The Forsythe Company is recognized for his innovation in classical ballet. He continues to explore innovation in dance, often extending his choreographic process into new manifestations including installations and the expressive digital media tools at the center of this new collaborative project. The collaboration with the ACCAD/Dance team emerged out of Forsythe’s interest in working in an interdisciplinary research environment. He explains, “I was drawn to Ohio State because of the intense focus on interrelation between artists and scientists at ACCAD and the unique significance of dance in that community.”

The Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) at Ohio State is a leading academic center for interdisciplinary teaching and research in computer graphics and visualization. The Department of Dance is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in choreography, performance, dance documentation, and dance and technology.

„Tanzplan Deutschland supports Synchronous Objects for One Flat Thing, reproduced in its role as an innovative, multimedia learning tool for dance students. Teachers and students from Germany’s dance-education institutions got a first impression of the project during lecture demonstrations and workshops at Tanzplan Deutschland’s first Dance Education Biennale, held in early 2008 at the HAU in Berlin.“ (Ingo Diehl, Educational Programme Coordinator, Tanzplan Deutschland)

"Rotterdamse Dansacademie/Codarts is very happy to have been one of the European supporting partners of Synchronous Objects for One Flat Thing, reproduced, and for our students to have had the opportunity to be involved in the early-stage development of this groundbreaking project. We look forward to incorporating the finished work into our dance teaching and learning programmes." (Samuel Wuersten, Director Rotterdamse Danceacademie/Codarts)

Synchronous Objects is the first phase of Motion Bank, an initiative that Forsythe envisions will become accessible repository of ideas developed through choreographic investigation.

For more information about Synchronous Objects go to

Funding is provided by The Forsythe Company, The Forsythe Foundation, The Ohio State University Office of Research, Rotterdamse Dansacademie/Codarts, and Tanzplan Deutschland, an initiative created by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. The Forsythe Company is supported by the city of Dresden and the state of Saxony as well as the city of Frankfurt am Main and the state of Hesse. The Forsythe Company is also supported by Mrs. Susanne Klatten.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More tax advice.

Here is a template that breaks down various performer related tax write-offs. Buying leotards and make-up payoff somehow!

There is also a great benefit to being able to claim oneself as a "Qualified Performing Artist". Wikipedia describes it as: an “above the line” deduction, meaning that it is used while computing a taxpayer’s Adjusted Gross Income. It is an exception to the general rule, which requires job-related expenses to be a miscellaneous itemized deduction subject to the “2% haircut” rule of itemized deductions. As such, it is a favorable tax situation for the performing artist taxpayer.

To qualify for this deduction, a taxpayer must fit certain criteria:

  • The taxpayer must have worked as a performing artist for at least two employers,
  • the amount of the deduction must exceed ten percent of the taxpayer’s gross income that is attributed to those performances, and
  • the adjusted gross income of the taxpayer, not counting this exception, does not exceed $16,000. See I.R.C. § 62(b)(1).
Happy tax time!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tax Season.

We are not born knowing how to do our taxes. Often it is not the most fun task in life (although I find it very satisfying!). I know may artists that have not filed there taxes only to be found by the IRS with huge fines. Artists may not fuel the economy by exorbitant incomes, but we still have the responsibility to pay our taxes.

Here are a few great resources for tax time.

First if you make below $56,0o0 you can e-file for free through the IRS website. You can save your work online as you go and through direct deposit immediately pay or file for refund.

Considering an artists work is specific, there are many write-offs that one may take. See here for a few examples. (It's a good reason why you should get your butt to class! Or maybe why that new leotard will pay off.)

Happy tax time!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Help a fellow dancer.

Andrew Allagree is a dancer, and friend of mine, who is dealing with a relapse of a rare autoimmune disorder that is being labeled Brainstem Encephalitis (swelling of the brain stem). It first struck him in 1999. At that time he lost almost complete motor function, was on life support for two weeks, was sent to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and subsequently began to teach himself how to walk again. Over a span of about two years he managed full recovery and went on to dance with Ballet Florida, danced in London, was in the opening cast of "Movin' Out" on Broadway, and last year spearheaded a campaign that raised $800,000 to help keep Ballet Florida from going under.
In December 2008 the illness suddenly struck again. Currently, he is in Good Samaritan Hospital in south Florida, where his condition fluctuates between ICU and "stable." There are no neuro-immunologists, the specialists he needs, in this hospital to help him. His medical bills over the past 8 weeks exceed $780,000; and because this is a pre-existing condition, he is not currently covered by any health insurance. The fund raising that is going on presently is in attempts at getting him an Air-Ambulance to UCSF in CA, where he has support of his family and partner, and where there are neuro-immunologists that are more experienced in dealing with this very rare, life threatening situation.
If you are a Facebook member and would like to support Andrew morally, you can "friend" him.

If you would like to support him financially, his Facebook cause is: Save Andrew Allagree Encephalitis Fund. The link:
You do not need to be a Facebook subscriber in order to donate on this link.
Here is a video supported by the band Five For Fighting, featuring Andrew in his own work created after his initial recovery and before the relapse.
Here is a news story from south Florida. If you click on the "play" button in the upper right you can watch the video article.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The NEA made it!

The recent campaign to get the arts community mobilized and advocating to local legislators has paid off. In the conference committee on capitol hill yesterday, the funding for the NEA was reinstated in the stimulus package and passed both the House and Sentate vote.

The New York Times ArtsBeat Blog reported,

"To the relief of cultural institutions, the economic-stimulus bill approved by Congress on Friday preserved $50 million in financing for the National Endowment for the Arts. While minuscule by comparison with some other allocations in the bill, it is a hefty sum for the endowment, whose annual budget is $145 million. Sixty percent of the new money will go to individual arts projects competing for N.E.A. funds. The remainder will be be distributed to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations for disbursal.

Leaders of cultural organizations had been on tenterhooks throughout the week. An earlier House version of the stimulus bill had a $50 million allocation for the arts endowment, but it was excluded from the Senate version approved on Tuesday. And a week ago, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, had won Senate passage of an amendment he proposed ruling out stimulus money for museums, theaters or art centers. (He lumped them with casinos, golf courses and swimming pools as undeserving.) Under the language approved on Friday, the arts groups were deleted from that portion; the bill does still explicitly rule out money for casinos, golf courses, swimming pools, zoos and aquariums.

Arguing for the $50 million in arts money on the House floor on Friday, Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, said: “You know what? There are five million people who work in the arts industry. And right now they have 12.5 percent unemployment — or are you suggesting that somehow if you work in that field, it isn’t real when you lose your job, your mortgage or your health insurance? We’re trying to treat people who work in the arts the same way as anybody else."

From Americans for the Arts- A United Voice
This is an important victory for all of you as arts advocates. More than 85,000 letters were sent to Congress, thousands of calls were made, and hundreds of op-eds, letters to the editor, news stories, and blog entries were generated in print and online media about the role of the arts in the economy. Artists, business leaders, mayors, governors, and a full range of national, state, and local arts groups all united together on this advocacy issue. This outcome marks a stunning turnaround of events and exemplifies the power of grassroots arts advocacy.

We would like to also thank some key leaders on Capitol Hill who really carried our voices into the conference negotiation room and throughout the halls of Congress: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI), House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA), and Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY). We also want to publicly thank President Obama for taking the early lead in recognizing the role of the arts in economic development. These leaders were able to convincingly make the case that protecting jobs in the creative sector is integral to the U.S. economy.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The arts are part of the solution!

The arts are a powerful economic engine and play a vital role in our communities, enhancing each of our lives.

Get the facts, not the spin! Let’s keep and increase arts funding in the stimulus package!

Here are ten reasons why the arts should matter to you.

1. Increased funding in the arts invests in an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, is the cornerstone of tourism and economic development, and drives a creativity-based economy.

2. Nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion in economic activity every year.

3. Nonprofit arts organizations return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year.

4. Nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences support 5.7 million jobs.

5. Investment in non-profit arts generates a spectacular 7:1 return on investment. That is, $1 invested in the arts generated $7 in the community. $50 million to the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) would generate $35 million in economic activity.

6. The arts are shovel-ready – each dollar of arts funding goes to work immediately creating jobs, attracting investment, generating tax revenue, and stimulating local economies through tourism and consumer purchases.

7. Artists constitute a sizeable class of workers -- only slightly smaller than the total number of active-duty and reserve personnel in the U.S. military.

8. The performing arts draw more attendance than sports. 70% of Americans attend at least one performing arts event per year versus 53% that attend one sports event.

9. Children who receive an arts education on a regular basis are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and less likely to engage in delinquent behavior.

10. A strong arts and culture sector and a creative workforce attract and keep businesses in the community - it is one of the top ten attributes corporations look for in a new business site.

The arts are not “pork spending”. Even if you are not an arts patron, the money spent on non-profit arts funding benefits you.

The money allocated for the National Endowment for the Arts represents less than 1% of the proposed economic stimulus package.The arts are part of the solution!

Take action now! Write your congressmen in under 5 minutes!
Click here:

Research comes from Americans for the Arts, the National Governors Association, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Performing Arts Research Coalition.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dance/USA Winter Forum- This Weekend!

Have you ever wondered what other organizations deal with in regards to employee turnover rates, health insurance premiums, salaries, etc. in this trying financial time? Do you know what a health screening can do for you or your dancers? Do you just need a community who can support in how your organization is run? YES?!? Attend this weekend's Dance?USA winter forum. It promises to be an inspiring and enriching series of meetings in New York City! Additionally there are special discounted rates for dancers!

Here is the write-up and links to further information.

Upcoming Winter Forum
Human Resources and Organizational Performance

January 30-31, 2009 in New York City

PRICE AND REGISTRATION - Reduced prices! “I fear that our organizations do not give the needs of administrative staff nearly enough attention. Let’s take the lead and raise the bar on human resource development in the arts!” - Rachel Moore, Executive Director of American Ballet Theatre.

Who Should Attend: Managing directors, artistic directors, human resource managers, operations managers, administrative staff of all sized companies, presenters, agents, service organization directors, choreographers and dancers are all invited and welcome to attend!
92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, directionsRead more about our generous hosts.
Schedule for Friday January 30, 2009: *Subject to change
8:30-9:30am Join us for a free breakfast!

9:30am Opening Remarks by Andrea Snyder, Executive Director of Dance/USA

9:45am Kristin Giantris, Vice President of the Northeast Region, Finance Fund will discuss the financial dynamics of various-sized dance companies and review the impact recessions have on arts organizations.

10:15am Human Resources lawyer, Kathleen McKenna of Proskauer Rose LLP, will tell true stories about human resources and economic crisis.

11:00-11:30am Dr. Richard Gibbs and Heather Southwick of the Task Force on Dancer Health will give an update on the Screening Project.

11:30am-12:00pm John Munger, Dance/USA’s Director of Research will present research on human resource issues during economic challenges regarding turnover rates, budget adjustments and compensation levels of Executive Directors, Artistic Directors and dancers of dance companies.

12:00-5:45pm Council Meetings (including free lunch)

6:00-9:00pm Networking and socializing reception. Free and open to all Winter Forum participants and the New York City dance community.Dance/USA is grateful to DeWitt Stern Group for their generous sponsorship of the Networking Reception. Thank you to the NYC host committee for their help with this reception.

Schedule for Saturday January 31, 2009: *Subject to change

8:30-9:30am Join us for a free breakfast!

9:00-9:30am Introduction to Engaging Dance Audiences, Arts Policy Recommendations in the New Administration, and the Dance/USA 2009 Annual Conference.

9:30-10:30am Agenda setting - Name topics and issues concerning human resources and organizational performance that you most want to explore on a deeper level during the rest of the day. Led by facilitator Heidi Nobantu Saul.

10:30-4:00pm Breakout sessions. Discover who shares the same issues and expand your network; Engage in dynamic discussion; Share ideas and what you are learning in the field;
Identify opportunities through taking ownership of what most interests you;
Read more about the discussion.

4:00-5:30pm Plenary Conclusion, Closing Circle

Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yes We Can!

It seems a bit brighter these days, winter always turns to spring. Particularly with this new government leadership comes great opportunity for individual responsibility. As President Obama stated in his Inauguration speech, "What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."

So again I ask what is our responsibility to dance? I would love to think that just creating the art is enough, but alas now more than ever our jobs (particularly the artists themselves) extend beyond "creators" and "doers".

I read a story in Newsweek recently about a governmentfunded abstinence campaign in the schools created by former President Bush. The campaign has received more than $1 billion dollars in government allotments. For 2008, according to Medical News Today , the Community Based Abstinence Education which "gives grants to groups that teach abstinence but not how to use contraception" received an allocation of $141 million. Yet according to the National Endowment for the Arts page, for the same fiscal year the government appropriated $144.7 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Comparing the two numbers the NEA only receives $4 million more, yet its programs cover both education and private non-profit arts organizations in a variety of disciplines.

Again what can we "doers" do? The first and easiest thing is to join the current campaign through the Performing Artist Alliance and petition your local legislators to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. I just sent a letter to my sentaors and house representatives that reads,

"On behalf of my performing arts organization, I am writing to express our strong support for the inclusion of $50 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. Among the numerous benefits included in this bill, support for the arts is an essential part of our nation's recovery and investment in a vibrant and creative economy-based future. I urge you to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009."

It was online, easy and free!

There is also recently a petition, driven by Quincy Jones, that has already complied over 76,000 signatures advocating for a cabinent level postion for the arts (sign up here). An article in the Washington Post cites a few top arts leaders in response to this momentum:

"Whether you call it a minister of culture or not, it would be wonderful to have someone with a policy role to coordinate arts education, cultural diplomacy and support for arts organizations. Those activities are not coordinated but divided among many offices," said Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

"We need a voice that looks broadly," said Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, a national lobbying group. He is advocating a senior position, not necessarily a Cabinet post. "We are calling for a person at the executive office level who understands there is a National Endowment for the Arts, but also understands the arts portfolio in the Education Department, the State Department -- and in addition to the nonprofits arts, is looking at cultural tourism, broadband access and trade through records, movies and videos."

No matter what it is our responsibility and the time is now. Advocacy is a great tool. With the momentum of a new day it is time for us "doers" to move advocacy to the top of our to-do list!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Freelancers Union

There is a great organization out there, not dance specific, that can offer free lance dancers health care, insurance and educational opportunities.

The Freelancers' Union is a free service that can group individuals to get discounts on insurances, health club memberships, eye wear and T-Mobile plans. Again the enrollment is free. Additionally they offer seminars and webinars on a variety of business and life skills topics. (Want more information on what your accountant is doing with your taxes?)

Additionally they provide a classified listing for jobs and a yellow pages to find or list specific people and professionals.

As our economy is in such flux, aligning ourselves with such great resources and knowledge is vital.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reality check- it's your responsibility.

ECONOMIC CRISIS!!!! It is all over the news and the reality is that when our donors and patrons lose their jobs it will affect the state of the arts.

On the left of the my blog I have complied a list of ailing ballet companies. Previously I posted links to information on Texas Ballet Theater and its struggles early this season. Large and small companies are losing donors, funding and audiences; this is likely just the beginning. In regards to TBT, the dancers themselves worked to secure the ballet's future by organizing fundraisers and being ambassadors to the community.

Transparency and collaboration are great ways to stick together as an industry. Again I can't speak enough to the work of Dance/USA. To that end, the winter council is fast approaching January 30th-31st at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Dancers can attend for $30 including some meals!

Below is a survey from 2004 from the Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations, although the information may be a few years old, it does support the fact that art exists at all financial levels. As history proves, it always has. To me this is hope that although the arts may struggle and need to scale back, it will always exist. It's what we as artists and arts organizations do with out arts and resources that really matters.

* 59 arts organizations responded; 57 provided detailed financial information
* 25 are Arts Councils, 8 are Arts Centers
* 13 Service Agencies and 13 Discipline Based Organizations

*14 Organizations are Alliance Rural Arts Partners

(including pass through)
* 14 Reporting Organizations have budgets under $200,000

* 17 Reporting Organizations have budgets between $200,000 and $500,000

* 6 Reporting Organizations have budgets between $500,000-999,000

* 14 Reporting Organizations have budgets in excess of $1,000,000

* 2 Reporting Organizations have budgets in excess of $10,000,000

*Pass Through (including regrant funds) range from $2,500 to $8,107,100
*22 organizations do not have ANY pass through money

*10 Organizations receive Federal Money, including NEA Funds.


*Grants range from $1,000 to $1,462,000 of those organizations receiving grants
*NYSCA grants range from .15 % to 68 % of Total Organizational Budget of those receiving NYSCA grants *Average NYSCA grant is 22.1% of Total Organizational budget
*The average dollar amount is $115,775; median is $49,500 (includes pass through)

*3 organizations receive no grant money

*15 organizations receive grants under $40,000; 10 receive $20,000 or less
*7 organizations receive grants between $40,000-60,000

*34 organizations receive over $60,000

*11 organizations receive grants in excess of $100,000


*30 organizations receive money from their counties; amounts range from $500 to $156,000


*28 organizations receive money from their municipality; amounts range from $500 to $784,583


*22 organizations receive money from New York State, other than from NYSCA

*$26,000 is the lowest reported salary for a full time Executive Director

*$150,000 is the highest reported salary for a full-time Executive Director.


*The range for payroll as a percentage of expenses is from 5%-72%

*48 organizations offer medical benefits to their full-time employees

*19 organizations offer dental benefits
*23 organizations offer tax-deferred annuity
*19 organizations offer pension
Employee contribution is required for most benefits.
Employee medical is generally included in benefits. Family coverage generally requires an employee contribution. Other benefits include: flex time, paid vacation, paid personal days, sick days, free or discounted programs, parking, transit checks.


*3 organizations reported no paid staff

*The largest reported paid staff is 98 FT and 102 PT

*Most organizations report at least 1 full time staff person