Take heart. It’s not all bleakness and gloom. Read on to find out how Laura Zabel created a Health Fair for artists designed expressly to help struggling artists.
Current Residence: Minneapolis, MN
Occupation: Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts
Areas of Focus: Non Profit
More Info: http://www.springboardforthearts.org/health/replication-toolkit/
Could you share something about what inspired this project? And how did you attempt to start such a daunting undertaking?
Four years ago, during an extensive strategic planning process, it came to our attention that the #1 barrier to a sustainable livelihood for our artists is affordable and accessible health care. A 2007 Economic Impact Study of Individual Artists revealed that artists are nearly twice as likely to be uninsured than the rest of the population in Minnesota. We knew that taking on the health insurance industry was beyond our capacity - even the federal government finds that task daunting. So we looked at innovative approaches to accessing healthcare.
We began by forming a task force of experts from the fields of medicine, insurance and the arts to inform and guide our work. Our first event was a Health Fair for Artists (which we have now held four times) that brought together community clinics, nonprofits, state programs, insurance resources, screenings, and workshops…all targeted at individual artists. Over 300 artists and their families attended the fair. This event also brought Springboard in contact with a wide network of potential partners. We now see our role as that of system navigators and healthcare advocates for artists. Besides working to break down barriers in culture and language, we also provide dignified access to affordable care for artists and their families.
Could you go into detail about your partnership with the Neighborhood Involvement Program (N.I.P.) and tell us about your own program – Artists’ Access to Healthcare (AAH)? What are the prerequisites for membership in the program? And what are some of the main services your healthcare program provides?
Following the health fair, we developed a partnership with the NIP Community Clinic and began providing healthcare vouchers to connect artists with this great resource. Artists fill out a quick, one-page application and attach a work sample or resume. The same business day, Springboard issues a $40 voucher to use towards the cost of services at the clinic. There are no income requirements. If you are an artist and are uninsured or under-insured, you qualify. NIP and Springboard share the costs and administrative responsibilities of the program, in our shared commitment to helping under-served communities access high-quality healthcare.
We have a careful process for identifying AAH clinic partners. We look for resources that are low-cost (have a sliding fee scale), local and arts-aware. Resources fitting these criteria are included in our Guides to Healthcare, invited to participate in our health fair and asked to offer discounts for artists.
We monitor these resources and – based on feedback from artists, popularity of the resource and our own programmatic needs – invite clinics to join the AAH program. Thanks to a generous grant from Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), our partner clinics have grown from one to five. Now, artists in the Twin Cities can receive a voucher (five vouchers total) for three medical, one dental and one alternative care clinic. We helped replicate the AAH program to artists in Northern Minnesota and are currently looking for partners to help replicate the program across the Upper Midwest.
Among the goals of your yearly strategic plan is the development of one major initiative per year. Which initiative are you developing this year? What inspired you to do so and how do you plan to implement it?
That strategic plan was very influential in the change and growth that Springboard has sustained in the last 5 years. At the time that we wrote the plan we really needed to push the organization to try new things and develop new programs. Now, happily, that’s not a challenge for us. In fact, our bigger challenge is making sure that we have the capacity to implement all of the creative and interesting programs that we and the artists weith whom we work are constantly coming up with! A big new project this year is a permanent local presence in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. We just hired a new staff member who will staff an office in Fergus Falls to serve artists in the Lake Region of MN and Eastern North Dakota.
Your organization also serves as an incubator, acting as a temporary home for new artist organizations. How much is typically provided for a new artist organization? And how would you advise others applying to the program?
The organizations and projects in our incubator program have access to fiscal sponsorship, marketing, development and legal help. They also get shared administrative services and financial management. We believe that this program is a great way to test the waters before forming an organization or to get help with a specific project. There are over 150 artist-led groups in the program. You can find all the information about how to apply on our website.
I see that you also lead many different kinds of workshops for artists. Who usually leads these workshops? Do you offer discounted admission to underfunded artists who want to attend?
Our workshops are led by artists. The peer to peer, artist-led approach is very important to us. If you want to attend a workshop and can’t afford the fee (most are under $50) contact us and we’ll work something out – we never want cost to be a barrier.
Based on your years of experience managing and consulting people in the arts, do you have any practical advice for artists in need of healthcare in their communities?
You do not need to have health insurance to receive healthcare. Whether you are uninsured or under-insured, every state has low-cost community clinics that offer a “sliding fee scale” or fees that are dependent on your annual income. You may locate a clinic nearest you by using the ‘Locate a Health Center’ tool at http://www.ask.hrsa.gov
Rarely will your healthcare be a one-stop-shop, so know your options and use several resources to get the healthcare you need. Resources include comprehensive and catastrophic private health insurance (from providers such as Blue Cross), public health insurance offered through your state, low-cost clinics, public cancer screening programs offered through your state and discount prescription medication programs.
Our Guides to Healthcare for Artists are a good place to get to know your options. Even if you live outside of Springboard’s service area (MN, IA, ND, SD and WI), the Guides include national resources and health insurance terminology. They can help provide an idea of similar resources to locate in your area. Connecting with local low-cost clinics that employ social workers and patient advocates is also a great way to learn about health resources.
Would like to share any success stories or information about artists’ organizations that you particularly like?
Specific to our healthcare programs, one of my favorite stories is that of an artist who approached me after a workshop to tell me that she had attended a free screening day that we hosted and that just a 15 minute screening inspired her to take better care of herself! She then used our services to find an affordable health insurance plan that allowed her to be insured for the first time in many years.
What specific impact has Springboard had within the arts community?
The stories of the individual artists that we’ve impacted are more inspiring, but I think the numbers are pretty exciting too. In the last 20 years we’ve worked with nearly 100,000 artists in the Upper Midwest!
Do you plan to expand your resources to either coast?
We have great peer organizations on each coast – Fractured Atlas, NYFA, ArtHome, Creative Capital, Actor’s Fund, Center for Cultural Innovation, and Sidestreets Projects, to name a few. We love the Midwest and this region will always be our focus. That being said, we are experimenting with helping other organizations replicate some of our programs outside of the region and will be working in Miami, Detroit, Akron, Philadelphia, Macon, San Jose, and Charlotte in the next few years.