A letter from Founding Director, James Echols,
Happy Holidays to all our Life Is Art Lovers!
I would like to take a little time to talk to you personally about Life Is Art and our commitment to this community. Though you have not heard from us very much in 2016, Life Is Art has been busy this year and we would like to share some of our news with you. We call this “Crossroads and New Beginnings”. (skip to the end for the tl;dr version)
At the end of 2015, after seven years of hard-scrabbled grassroots programming with almost no outside funding, Life Is Art came to a crossroads. We could no longer function off just blood, sweat and tears (and there was a lot of that spilled). Over those first seven years, Annette and I have put in more than 10,000 unpaid hours each, while working other full-time jobs for some of that time. Many other people put in numerous volunteer hours, donating both their time and their skills. In October of 2013, I quit my paying job and have worked full time for Life Is Art for over three years, now, without a paycheck.
Over those years, we put together more than one-hundred events. If you would like to see a round up of all our events, click here. Through all of that hard work, we have built up a reputation of quality, impact and integrity and we regret none of it. However, at the end of 2015, we came to the point where we just could not do that any longer.
At this point, many people would give up. Not us. Our goal, from day one, has always been to become a major institution in Miami to produce deep and broad impact in our community. Over the years, in addition to building our name, we have been testing and experimenting with our programming, studying a variety of community impact topics and gaining more experience about what Miami needs. Now, we are ready to take the next step, as they say.
At the beginning of 2016 we made the tough decision to pause our programming in order to focus on strategic planning and recovery. It really was not so much of a decision as we had no choice, we were spent. We have engaged experienced strategic planning and fundraising consultant to help us map our way forward and find he resources to follow that map. They have been indespensible.
We have made excellent progress in defining where we want to go. We are now in the process of working on raising the funds to make it happen. This process takes a long time, longer than we expected, and this has been exacerbated by my inability to generate the same productivity that I have in years past. But, things are proceeding and we are excited about the future.
As far as our actual plans for programming, do not worry, we are not going to radically deviate from the work that you have come to know and love. Rather, we are going to greatly expand and grow that, as well as move into some new areas of operations. Our focus will continue to be on presentation and education, but in addition to the small, local programs we have previously produced, we are adding major, international programs. We are also looking at infrastructure projects, such as affordable housing for artists. If you are interested in a more detailed outline of our programming plans, we welcome you to download our digital deck here.
Obviously, these big projects require big funding, and that is what we are working on, now. As soon as we have some serious seed money in hand, we will restart our regular programming, as we continue to raise money for the larger projects. We hope to have this accomplished within the first half of 2017, but because we are treading totally new ground, that is only an estimate. Of course, you, our friends, fans and family, will be the first to know when anything happens! To ensure that you do not miss anything, be sure to sign up on the email list.
SAVE THE DATE
To celebrate our renewed commitment to our community and your ongoing support of our mission, we are going to host a “Life Is Art Company Party” on Saturday, January 21st. We consider all of you our “company” so everyone is invited! It will be a daytime event, very laid back, so put it on your calendar, now. More information will be coming soon!
Thank you all for your years of love. We look forward to serving you for many more to come.
Life Is Art, Inc.
(PS: tl;dr version: “We goin’ big or we goin’ home. Party on Jan 21.”)