We had the good fortune of connecting with Tamara Bates and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tamara, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Last April, the City of Santa Fe decided to cancel its summer art markets due to COVID-19. These two major art markets, for Native American and Spanish art are often the single source of income, not only for an individual, but for a family. I decided to launch a free program to help artists diversify their revenue sources and support them otherwise with financial planning and career coaching. My career has not been in the arts. I was a financial advisor for UBS and Raymond James and before that a nonprofit fundraiser and philanthropic program officer, but I am the daughter of two artists so this world felt familiar to me and that I could have an impact. After running a test group last April-September, I officially launched the first cohort this January and am working with 19 artists in three states. I already see the shifts- the artists in this program are taking bigger chances, applying for bigger grant opportunities and charging more for their work. Through my program, we are working on any past financial debts or hardship and planting the seeds for growth that aligns with their vision. Artists are often the least likely people to receive financial advice, but they are entrepreneurs and deserve access to the same resources that entrepreneurs in other fields have more ready access to.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I knew when I started my program that I wanted it to be free. Several years ago, when I was starting out as a financial advisor, a coach told me to not talk to anyone with less than 1M as it as a waste of my skills and training. After a sleepless night reflecting on whether I wanted that to be true for me or not, I decided to start giving away my financial knowledge to anyone who needed and wanted it. So many people feel shame around not understanding their finances, but we are not taught even basic money management skills at any point in our education system. My program serves artists who often feel way behind the curve when it comes to financial practices. The artists I know are really good with money, but they may not view themselves that way. Launching this program, I also committed that I wouldn’t charge any application fees or do any other structure that relied on the artists themselves to fund it. Many residencies and publications make their income from charging a fee to apply and therefore are dependent on many artists applying who do not have a chance at receiving the award or opportunity. I also wanted to be independent from foundation support which can fluctuate at whim, so I made a model where I work 1/2 time and run my program during the other half. This lets me have the control and the ethics I want to express.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve lived many places, but New Mexico is my favorite. I find the landscape very inspiring so when people come to visit Santa Fe, we get in the car and drive to Chimayo, Abiquiu, the road from Pilar to Taos. Stopping to have a margarita at Rancho de Chimayo or the Historic Taos Inn. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Ten years ago, I read the book “The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World” by Lewis Hyde and it fundamentally changed my worldview about how people can and should be recognized for their artistic gifts in a capitalistic society that mainly gives recognition through monetary compensation. Creative Capital in NYC where Hyde has been an founding board member and advisor, gives artists $50,000 grants and an equal amount in professional development. They are my model for excellence. I dedicate my shoutout to Lewis and Creative Capital.
Gabriella Marks Kat Kinnick