The Path to Financial Fitness: Membership is Free
Content presented by The Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts.
Is a secure financial future possible if you pursue a life in the arts? The answer’s a resounding “yes.” The savviest arts professionals recognize that financial wellness is critical to creative freedom and career longevity.
Financial fitness depends on four things (and this goes for both individual artists and arts organizations):
- Cash flow sufficient to cover obligations, including monthly bills and timely repayment of debt;
- Resources, such as savings and insurance, to weather emergencies;
- Rational, attainable goals, including strategic planning and retirement arrangements; and
- Financial elbow room for “extras,” such as special projects, recreation, and time off for spiritual and emotional replenishment.
People in the arts have often had less access to financial planning resources than those in business and industry. To address this gap, Darren Sussman, co-founder and former president of TheaterMania & OvationTix, recently established The Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts to offer artists and arts organizations free financial education and planning solutions to enhance fiscal fitness.
“Many artists and arts professionals assume they chose a career in the arts in lieu of financial aspirations,” observes Sussman. “Well, that’s just rubbish—the most creative and successful arts professionals are very much aware of their financial lives, and they’re the better for it.”
Sussman, who left TheaterMania after a recent merger, says, “Early in my career, I was a musician and I thought it was just not cool to think about money, let alone plan for the future—and how wrong I was. For some reason, so many creative people believe they are limiting their creativity if they are thinking about the financial part of life. When I learned that several of my creative idols, David Bowie being top of my list, were equally talented in their financial lives, well that changed my thinking and behavior from that day on.”
“The reality is actually inverse from the common thinking of many artists—you absolutely can be more creative when your financial life is in order,” Sussman says. “Recently, I heard David Bowie in a recorded interview say, and I quote; ‘When I’m working on the artist self, I am 100% artist—when I’m trying to sell it, believe me I am 100% businessman.’ That kind of says it all, doesn't it?”
“The IFWA’s mission,” he explains, “is to get rid of false beliefs, inspire confidence, and provide the education and tools that are essential for finding the right financial path.”
Sussman’s years at TheaterMania taught him that arts organizations’ viability and the longevity of creative careers require a balance of prudent business practices and aesthetic achievement. To survive in the arts and, most of all, to thrive, organizations and individuals must be mindful of financial fitness—and they need the right guidance to develop that mindfulness.
The IFWA is committed to bringing valuable financial education and planning solutions to arts organizations, professionals, and artists nationwide.
IFWA is working to learn more about the arts community’s financial well-being. Thank you for filling out this brief survey to help the IFWA better serve this mission.