Sign up for Updates on Arts2Work

A New Plan Where Artists, Communities, Economies Thrive

Despite the well-documented importance of the arts to the American economy, as well as to education, community vitality, and business innovation, the country has yet to create adequate infrastructure to support the economic sustainability of organizations and artists whose labor, creativity, and vision contribute so remarkably to our country’s economic well-being.

Accordingly, we must support arts development with an enhanced creative infrastructure; this isn’t just “nice- to-have,” but rather is the critical underpinning of society that enables us to meet the demands of the 21st century global economy. The Creative Workforce Development Initiative (CWDI) is a new system that builds the national creative workforce, provides advanced professional development, job and entrepreneurship training, and capital investment to creative businesses, institutions and community organizations. This new era will be defined by creativity and anchored in the creative impulse. It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.”


  • • High-performing nonprofit arts organizations rarely have sufficient resources to train and promote new generations of arts managers.
  • • Nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists are often displaced from the communities they’ve revitalized.
  • • Individual artists lack business skills and access to entrepreneurial training that would enable them to build sustainable revenue models to support their creative work
  • • The arts and culture sector lacks the infrastructure to provide pathways for arts training and professional apprenticeships, internships, and early to advanced career opportunities that enable the success of artists and arts organizations, and that enable individuals with creative abilities and training to find the right match with businesses seeking creative skills.
  • • The public and private sectors have created piecemeal approaches — some effective — that can be used to meet some of these needs, but they have not been knit together into a single, transparent, and holistic infrastructure of training, professional opportunities, career and entrepreneurial education, internships, and opportunities for advancement.

We are in a proverbial “vicious cycle.” Beloved and high-performing nonprofit arts organizations across the country add to local economic vitality, yet are often displaced from the very communities they have worked to revitalize.  They struggle to survive, and often scrape by without necessary personnel, funding, or operational support. For these organizations, grants for their work don’t guarantee they’ll be able to keep their doors open for one more year. Meanwhile, individual artists receive little training in how to do their work in institutional or entrepreneurial contexts. They have few opportunities for paid internships, there are no job ladders to climb, opportunities for professional advancement are few, and they rarely understand how their creativity and storytelling skills can be useful in a business environment.


The Creative Workforce Development Initiative addresses these systemic issues through a new, sustainable ecosystem that boosts the economy by lifting up creative professions here in the US.

Artists are innovators and the economic engines of our country — they should be able to benefit from a set of education and training opportunities like those available to their counterparts in science, technology, and business. Arts organizations should be acknowledged and compensated for their role in developing the American creative workforce and revitalizing vulnerable communities. A thriving arts ecosystem is a leading indicator of resilience and must not be overlooked as a crucial part of American economic vitality.

The time is now to build the infrastructure needed to support artists and arts organizations. The Creative Workforce Development Initiative is intended to be a dramatic new model of social reform uniquely designed for the digital generation and to meet the economic demands of the 21 century. Through dynamic public/private partnerships, the Initiative creates a networked infrastructure where training and professional apprenticeships lead to advanced career opportunities for a diverse population. The effort will impact the resiliency of cities by reinforcing a vibrant creative economy that can bolster civic identity and safeguard against unchecked gentrification and displacement. Through this new deal, professional artists, mediamakers, and creative technologists will be supported with:

  • • Advanced, networked professional development;
  • • Job and social entrepreneurship training;
  • • Subsidized mentorship and apprenticeship opportunities;
  • • Startup funding to build creative businesses, communities of practice, socially beneficial creative initiatives, and nonprofit arts organizations that serve low-income communities;
  • • Public/private investment to support, hire, and retain creative staff, business managers, and cultural producers; and
  • • Skills and tools to increase local creative impact and social accountability.

The Creative Workforce Development Initiative will expand existing workforce development infrastructures, provide access across traditional boundaries, and create a new network of public and private funding sources to develop and strengthen mentorship, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in creative fields and media technology.  With appropriate policies and incentives, public entities can leverage existing resources to create the necessary infrastructure for arts organizations to work across sectors and uplift diverse communities. An effort such as this would ensure access to professional training and apprenticeships in the public and private sector, offer creatives crucial support to build businesses and develop projects that produce viable sources of revenue, and contribute measurable social capital to communities across the US.

The Creative Workforce Development Initiative is working to make this a reality. We have a ten-state plan for a series of demonstration projects to serve as models for the national Initiative that will build a sustainable, vibrant future for the creative workforce in America.

Join us in this work. Contact Wendy Levy, Executive Director,

What will Arts2Work mean for you? Read our Press Release.

Sign up for Updates on Arts2Work: