NYC Artists Help Their Peers Living Below the Poverty Line by Sharing Videos on New Subscription-Based Site
Taylor Mac, Kristin Marting, Morgan Jenness, Emily Morse, Niegel Smith, and a group of over 50 other New York City artists—including Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Fellowship and OBIE Award winners spanning numerous disciplines—have hatched a plan to help artists hurt from the COVID-19 shutdown. Inspired by the artists-on-behalf-of-artists activism of Elizabeth Swados, they have made a new grassroots subscription video platform, The Trickle Up (A NYC Artists Network). As members of the performing arts community struggle to maintain their livelihoods amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, The Trickle Up enlists New York artists in helping other New York artists living below the poverty line, who are suffering from lost income, by sharing work on the platform. The Trickle Up aims to engage 10,000 subscribers paying $10 a month—and thereby get $10,000 each to 120 different artists in need (starting ASAP, and through the year). If this goal is surpassed, more people get help. The Trickle Up, a model for how a streaming arts platform can reshape artists’ lives, seeks to continue supporting artists well beyond the fallout of COVID-19. The site launches today, Monday, March 23, with videos streaming at https://trickleup.uscreen.io/.
50 artists have already signed on to donate their time and creativity to make three videos each for the platform. They include: Penny Arcade (performance artist), Annie Baker (playwright), Sharon Bridgforth (playwright/poet), Rachel Chavkin (theatre-maker), Lisa D’Amour (playwright), Helga Davis (performer), Machine Dazzle (designer), Lear DeBessonett (theatre-maker), Ty Dafoe (actor), Andre De Shields (performer), Viva DeConcini (musician), Kristoffer Diaz (playwright), Faye Driscoll (choreographer), Anastasia Durasova (makeup designer), Bridget Everett (comedienne/singer), Greg Glassman (musician), Lucas Hnath (playwright), Marika Hughes (musician), Mia Katigbak (theatre-maker), Lisa Kron (playwright), Jeyn Levison and Joshua Waletzky (Yiddish culturalists), Bianca Leigh (actress), Dana Lyn (musician), Taylor Mac (theatre-maker), Ellen Maddow (theatre-maker) , Kristin Marting (theatre-maker), Dirty Martini (burlesque performer), Dominique Morisseau (performer/playwright), Miguel Gutierrez (choreographer), Lynn Nottage (playwright), Diana Oh (playwright/ performer), Suzan-Lori Parks (playwright/musician), Annie-B Parson (choreographer/theatre-maker), Clint Ramos (designer), Sarah Ruhl (playwright/poet), Peggy Shaw (theatre maker), Sxip Shirey (composer/musician), Niegel Smith (theatre maker), Lloyd Suh (playwright), Darrel Thorne (designer/club performer), Tigger! (actor/burlesque performer), Liesl Tommy (director), Adrienne Truscott (performance artist), Basil Twist (puppeteer), Paula Vogel (playwright), Ann Washburn (playwright), Lois Weaver (theatre-maker), Weirdos.TV (performance artist), and Paul Zimet (theatre-maker). These donating artists, and any others who join in the cause in the future, will select recipients of the $10,000 commissions.
In addition to these artists, 20 promotional partners have joined the cause: Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Beth Morrison Projects, Clubbed Thumb, The Flea Theater, HERE Arts Center, HowlRound, The Lark, Ma-Yi Theater Company, MAP Fund, NAATCO, New Dramatists, New Georges, New Ohio Theatre, On the Boards, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi, Peoplmovr, The Play Company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and Times Square Arts.
An openness and flair for casual invention characterizes the videos the organizers have called for, with the option for artists to use a smartphone to film anything including readings of portions cut from a play; displays of new designs; performances of new songs or dances; or of any of the presumably many things that recently got canceled amidst this crisis. Taylor Mac has recorded, in many sections, footage of judy sitting on a rock, reading judy’s recent Tony-nominated play Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus. Mac explains, “The Trickle Up is a network where you would see stuff you would never otherwise get to see. When else are you going to see the playwright read their entire play?” The artists aim to begin the project as a grassroots effort among New York artists—who themselves represent various corners of the country and world—and see if and how it might expand to artists elsewhere from there.
Mac says, “I was at a theater and overheard somebody in the lobby say that yesterday she had three jobs and today she had zero jobs. This was a person living week-to-week already, and on my way home, I thought, ‘how is she going to survive, and what can we do to help someone in this position?’ As so many of us are people who currently or historically have lived below the poverty line, we know how hard it is to do basic things like buy groceries, and also we know how much a big lump sum like $10,000 can change your life. My first grant was $7,000 from the Peter S. Reed Foundation and was thanks to another artist, Elizabeth Swados, putting my name on the list of recipients. At the time I had no money and was racing to pay basic necessities. Getting that grant changed everything. Our hope is that we can do the same for an unprecedented number of artists. Both in this time of heightened need and moving forward. Every year.”