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Introducing the ACF Help Desk: a Resource for Artists and Collaborators

Inspired by the conversations that we have with artists everyday about advocacy, seeking financial support, and finding opportunities to have their work performed and realized, American Composers Forum (ACF) is pleased to introduce the ACF Help Desk, located on our Artist Services Resources page.

Our goal was to create a publicly accessible and equitable go-to space for music creators and those who work with them to ask questions and find answers to a variety of topics. This brand new initiative is part of a larger, organizational-wide effort to reimagine the ways in which we can reach a broader range of music creators and connect them with collaborators, audiences, and funding opportunities.

Sharing and Connecting with Artists

As ACF’s Manager of Artist Services, my job is to connect with artists, and in turn, help artists get connected to opportunities and resources. Sharing a love of music and connecting with others is what I love about working on the Artist Services team. I loved creating–through music, theater, improv, and writing–from a young age, and creating music felt like the best way to bring all of my interests together. I began composing in undergrad, exploring new sounds as I worked alone and created new works with fellow artists and musicians. After pursuing a graduate degree in composition, I moved back to the Midwest and found that sharing my work with other music creators, and hearing them talk about the music they’d written, was enriching and reaffirming, and helped me discover new music.

Through this personal and professional lens, I now connect music creators to ACF’s tools and resources such as:

The Opportunities Page: a listing of calls for music, commissions, and grant opportunities that is curated by our staff to align with ACF’s mission and commitment to racial equity.

The Resources Page: includes educational and career resources as well as ACF’s professional development series, which offers discussions on topics like navigating publishing and self-publishing, negotiating contracts, and setting up your own home studio.

Fiscal sponsorship: allows ensembles or individuals who do not have 501(c)(3) status to raise tax-deductible funds for a new music event or project.

Artist Services Newsletter: a monthly ePublication that highlights calls posted to the Opportunities page and other newly posted resources (email me at [email protected] to be added to our mailing list, or sign up here for our general newsletter).

Photo by Jon Barkiple on Unsplash

Photo by Jon Barkiple on Unsplash

Creating a Space for Belonging

This past year, ACF eliminated the requirement of membership fees to access our resources while also expanding those resources, including the new ACF Help Desk. ACF had operated as a membership organization since 1973, starting in Minnesota and growing to serve more than 1,500 members from around the country. ACF’s office in St. Paul served as a hub for artists, and my colleagues and I frequently responded to inquiries from artists (both members and those new to ACF) working in many different approaches and stages of their artistic lives.

ACF began reassessing ways to make our programs and services more equitable in the spring of 2019, and we started addressing all the possible barriers to access. We sought to reimagine ACF as a more inclusive space where we could continue to build meaningful relationships with artists and our broad ecosystem beyond our membership. ACF’s transition away from paid membership has allowed us to reach and support a wider range of artists, and to shift our focus from managing the technical aspects of membership to answering more inquiries from artists, educators, presenters, and supporters.

Using the new ACF Help Desk

We have developed the ACF Help Desk to provide an easy way for anyone in our ecosystem to get in touch with ACF staff. The Help Desk is a space for artists, those who are looking to support, commission, or collaborate with an artist, and those who want to create an equitable commission or call for scores. Examples of questions that artists and community members might ask include:

  • How can I commission a new musical work?
  • What are some ways I can promote my work?
  • How can I connect with collaborators in other disciplines?
  • I’ve been asked about my commissioning fees. How do I determine my pricing?
  • I live in an area without resources for composers. How can I stay connected?

If you’re submitting an inquiry via the ACF Help Desk form, an ACF staff member will connect with you within a few days and respond to your question, or set up a time to talk. We’ll speak with you to learn more about you and what your goals are for your project. We’ll help connect you with relevant resources, and follow up if you’re looking for continued support.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Continually Adapting our Resources

In the coming year, we are working to create up-to-date and long-lasting resources–such as webinars, roundtables, how-to articles, and sample contracts–that are informed by your questions. Our team’s main focus is to include a wide variety of perspectives and create resources that serve our diverse ecosystem.

Whether you’re new to American Composers Forum or have been a part of ACF for years, take a look at our resources like our Opportunities page and our Professional Development Webinars. If you have questions about our resources, or are looking for professional development advice, reach out via the ACF Help Desk, or contact me via phone or email. We look forward to continuing our work as connectors and advocates and talking with you to share what we have learned.