Get Together

How SXSW created programming *with* its community 🎨Todd Hansen, SXSW & Artist Rescue Trust

Episode Summary

An interview hosted by Bailey Richardson and Kevin Huynh with Todd Hansen. For ten years, Todd led conference programming at South by Southwest, the annual film, interactive media, and music festival held in Austin, Texas. Recently, Todd and friends started the Artist Rescue Trust to support musicians, artists, and creatives affected by the pandemic. We talked with Todd about how the SXSW team has built the conference over the years with attendees and how he tapped existing motivation in starting the Artist Rescue Trust.

Episode Notes

“If you're going to go to your community and build with them, realize that you're going to have to support and prop them up. It's not a part-time job. It's a full-time thing.” - Todd Hansen

In the Spring of 1987, a group of music fans and journalists organized a small live event in Austin, Texas. Around 700 people showed up. By 2019, South by Southwest (SXSW) had become a 10-day conference and festival with over 28,000 attendees heading to Austin each March.

Each year the conference receives 5,000+ proposals and the programs team, which Todd Hansen led, was tasked to sift through and find the 600 sessions to schedule for the final event. 

Though SXSW was canceled last year, that didn’t slow Todd down. He and conspirators saw their artistic friend’s opportunities disappear in the wake of the pandemics—canceled tours, exhibitions, premiers—and responded by creating the Artist Rescue Trust, which dolls out monthly $500 checks to folks who are working full time as artists. 

Outside of running programming at SXSW for 10 years, Todd has also run a record label, he’s the person responsible for Rich Kids of Instagram, and once owned and operated an early coach surfing website.

We talked with Todd about sourcing and supercharging leads of SXSW’s session and how he recognized a need and energy to support artists through the pandemic.

Highlights, inspiration, & key learnings:

👋🏻Say hi to Todd and learn more about the Artist Rescue Trust.

📄See the full transcript.

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Episode Transcription

Note: This transcript is automatically generated and there may be some errors. Timestamps may vary slightly based on episode announcement & commercial placement.


Bailey (00:01):

Welcome to Get Together! It's our show about ordinary people building extraordinary communities. I'm your host Bailey Richardson. I'm a partner at people and company and a co-author of get together how to build a community with,


Kevin (00:21):

And I'm Kevin Huynh. Co-Founder at people in company with Bailey and get together cohost.


Bailey (00:27):

In each episode, we interview everyday people who have built extraordinary communities about just how they did it. How did they get the first people to show up? How did they grow to hundreds, maybe even thousands more members today we're talking to Todd Hanson, Todd Todd in the spring of 1987, a group. That was my, when I was born, Kevin was born in 1988. A group of music, fans and journalists organized a small live event in Austin, Texas, and around 700 people showed up by 2019 South by Southwest, which they started had become a 10 day conference and festival with over 28,000 attendees heading to Austin, each March as head of conference programming, Todd Hanson and his team were in charge of listening to the South by Southwest community to understand what they wanted to learn more about each year at the conference and to create programming that would bring that to life.


Bailey (01:28):

They'd sift through 5,000 or more proposals each year to find about 600 talks that would make the final event outside of running programming at South by Southwest for 10 years, Todd has also run a record label. He is the person responsible for rich kids of Instagram. RQI. Remember that I showed you and he once owned and operated an early couch surfing website though South by South was canceled last year that didn't slow Todd down. He and a team saw their artistic friends opportunities disappear in the wake of the pandemic. Think canceled tours, canceled exhibitions, canceled film premiers, and they responded by creating the artist rescue trust, which dolls out monthly $500 checks to folks who are working full-time as artists we'll dig into this work on the podcast, as well as some of his stories from South by Southwest Kevin. What's one thing you took away from our conversation today with Todd.


Kevin (02:26):

Can I say too, as long as they're quick, you're


Bailey (02:29):

You're, you're also a boss of this podcast. You do it,


Kevin (02:32):

I'm a captain, I'm a co-captain of this ship. So the number one, speaking to Todd's experience at South by Southwest, that was a, an example of South by Southwest building a conference with others. You know, that's what we talk about with community building. You go build a community with your people, not for them. And I almost find it surprising that we don't see even more of this. Like there are probably new and interesting ways to build a conference, build gathering, build a summit


Kevin (03:00):

With others, not to just, you know, create an agenda, get some really great speakers and say, Hey, listen to these folks. So it's almost a challenge to listen and to say, if you're going to be organizing and upcoming gathering around knowledge, sharing around inspiration, how can you do that with the people more? The second thing I'll just talk about is the origin story of artists rescue trust sticks out to me. You know, when we talk about starting a new community initiative, I think just some ingredients are more potent than others. You know, sometimes there's a, a better a group of people or a situation that's going to lend more to a community that might flourish, especially in times of big transition and change, which is definitely happening right now. So I think what Tod saw was rat, he saw artists needing support and he saw people including himself eager to support artists. You know, you can't conjure motivation out of thin air, but you can recognize motivation, right? You can recognize that there's a potential for something big to happen if you just organize those people around those motivations. So hats off to Todd, and I'd say the takeaway is look out for that in your own lives. Like where is that potential? Where are you seeing those motivations that aren't being met?


Bailey (04:13):

So clearly Todd contain with multitudes. I think it's time to jump in. You're ready, Kevin. Yeah, I'm ready. Let's go. Todd, welcome to the podcast. We are stoked to have you I'm glad our lives cross paths on a Slack channel during the pandemic. But you know, in the spring of 1987, there was a group of music fans, journalists who put together a small live event in Austin, Texas. And we all know that today as South by Southwest, which is where you worked for about 10 years. And we want to pick your brain on it today. I'm curious for those who don't know so much about the organization and its history. Why like does South by Southwest exist? What was missing in the world that South by Southwest kind of brought to life?


Todd (05:03):

Well, thank you for having me. This is really cool to do so. I mean, the story of South by Southwest is complicated and complex and it has very simple beginnings as well. You know you know, in 1987 there was a group of the founders of the company were all working at the Austin Chronicle, which was the alternative weekly and still is in Austin. And they took it upon themselves to decide that they wanted to highlight bands that were in that area of the country and to do so. They decided to throw a music festival and kind of take the spin on it, more of a showcasing festivals. So it was supposed to be, and still is an industry event. So there were a lot of music venues in Austin. And so they kind of started inviting bands to come. And the first year they had 700, some people show up and in the second year, I think they had about 3000 people show up. So they kind of struck gold right away and were wise enough to kind of continue with that formula for many years.


Bailey (06:16):

And I know LA in 2019 there were something like 28,000 people going to a 10 day conference and festivals. So it obviously lived many lives and grew to the point that a small village would, or a town I suppose, would show up in Austin every year. But I, in hearing you talk about the design of being more of a showcase and an industry focused event than maybe a, a typical music festival, I'm wondering, you know, did that, was that important to what made it resonate or what, what makes something different as a showcase versus what maybe I'm used to doing in terms of going to outside lands or governor's Island or whatever?


Todd (07:07):

Yeah, I mean a showcasing festival. I mean, that's what we would call it is, you know, what you're doing is you're basically bringing all the acts to Austin and you're you know, some of these bands would play, you know, between three and 10 shows over the course of, you know, a few days, right? So the point was for agents, buyers, promoters, basically the industry to see as much music and as many acts as possible. So, you know, it really gave them the opportunity to kind of vet bands. If they were kind of bad one night, then the next night, or maybe later in the early in the afternoon, they would see somebody. And then later in the evening they would see the, see the same band again. And they would be allowed all these second chances to see the bands and for the community to come together.


Todd (08:03):

And, you know, a lot of, especially the music community, which I have a background in as well. They don't get to see each other that often, you know, they're in New York or they're in LA or Portland, or basically scattered all over the country, you know, and South by Southwest, between Kyla's place that like once a year, everybody was finally around each other. So you had this like immediate center of gravity happen where it became a place, especially in 1987 and the early years when obviously technology wasn't allowing us to connect as easily. I mean, they basically did everything by fax machine the first few years, which is crazy to think about


Bailey (08:39):

That is wild in that regard.


Todd (08:44):

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So just, you know, think of it this way. You know, people were like mailing and tapes, they were doing contracts over fax machines. I think it, wasn't only in like maybe the second year Roland Swenson who was one of the founders and as the CEO actually got a cell phone, like one of those big brick cell phones from,


Bailey (09:03):

Oh yeah, I remember those. Bring them back, baby, bring them back.


Todd (09:08):

Yeah. So, you know, the community was kind of immediately built, right? Because these people had all been dealing with each other communication and technology was, you know, obviously not where it is today. And so all of a sudden you have this wonderful in-person thing, that's just kind of around the center of gravity, of art and music. And, you know, it's, it's a very powerful thing. And everybody's having all sorts of unique experiences, which are maybe a little bit different than what we know as festivals today, where, you know, like ACL or outside lands or whatever, you know, it might be a multiple day thing, but there's definitely like major focuses of attention on, you know, three or four or five main stages. In 2019 South by South ran, I think about 105 separate venues during the event. So just the scale that it's gotten to is, is pretty intense.


Bailey (09:59):

Also just bless you and everyone involved for all the hard work because of getting like hives thinking about how much work goes into, but what I'm hearing in, what you've said is there's kind of like a missing, there's maybe a missing connective tissue for people who were all involved in figuring out what was next in the music industry, giving platforms to new acts, they all sort of knew each other, but didn't get the time to really spend quality time in the same place together and South by kind of solved that for them or offered that space. I, to also ask you a little bit about your background when we first talked, you managed not to tell me that you actually started rich kids of Instagram, which I think this is a phenomenon and I'm not gonna totally like ask you a million questions about that today, but so pleased to be meeting you. What I want to know is why did you decide to work at South by South West? And I know your background as running this indie record label and some other collective projects like rich kids of Instagram, which I mentioned, and a crowd surfing website, they all feel sort of in the orbit of South by Southwest. But how do you look back and think on what led you to work at South by


Todd (11:18):

That's a good question. And the answer is probably less thrilling than you might imagine. The short story there is 13 years ago or so. Me and my wife moved down to Austin and it never occurred to me to work for South by Southwest. We just wanted to change the scene and we had been living in Minneapolis and wanting to get away from the cold weather and go check out Austin. Kind of jumping around from job to job started the couch surfing service called better than the van for touring bands. It's just kind of something to do and kind of something fun to dip my toe into. We had a business model, which was none. And just thought it would be a good idea. So that's sort of, kind of opening up doors in Austin. So I started meeting a lot of people and also was a lot smaller than so you had a cool amount of access to obviously a lot of creative folks and kind of dipped my toe in the music scene there a little bit.


Todd (12:15):

And then, you know, I was working at a startup and the startup didn't raise another round of money. And so I was doing a bunch of their comms and marketing work. And of course I was shown the door one afternoon as a result for not getting any funding. And so I had just had a child and obviously panicked and drove to a coffee shop and sat down and blasted out an email to absolutely everybody I knew saying, Hey, does anybody have anything? And five minutes later somebody who I'd been kind of occasionally seeing around this guy, Sean and Keith who worked at South by Southwest we'd meet for coffee every so often or whatever. He's like, Hey man, I think I have something for you. So the next day I went to South by Southwest, kind of met the crew and started working for him and that's basically it.


Todd (13:12):

So it's, it was really interesting. They were growing really, really fast. This is when the interactive side of things was kind of on its rocket ship ride. And they were getting an incredible amount of submissions to PanelPicker. I think the year that I started, they had like five or six or seven X more submissions to the PanelPicker, which is the crowdsource platform that we use to program a lot of the conference. And I remember always remember this, I was in [inaudible] office and he emailed me a spreadsheet and it was all the entries for PanelPicker and he was like, can you help us figure out a way to like, to judge these and to go through these that's your first job? And I was like, huh. Okay. So I disappeared, came back with a plan and that's how it all began, I guess.


Bailey (14:03):

Yeah. Just to make sure everybody understands this PanelPicker kind of prod product that you guys have tool you have right around when you started South by Southwest, started using PanelPicker. And it was basically just a system that allowed anyone to submit a speaking proposal to the conference. And I'm pretty sure I went through that at some point, and then people were able to vote on the ones they were most interested in. So sort of like a community of folks who were close to the orbit of South by Southwest people who cared about the topics could kind of signal to you what they thought was most interesting and out of a few thousand something like 600 or so would get picked. Is that right?


Todd (14:49):

Yeah. Something like that. I, what the percentage was it's it was a low it's a low percentage, but yeah, I think we would program maybe yeah. Six to 700 sessions out of the panel picker and in the 2019 event, I believe we got around five or 6,000 speaking proposals through PanelPicker. So a lot to go through and a lot of signals,


Bailey (15:17):

What was key to being able to sort through submissions like that? Did you notice any trends?


Todd (15:22):

The seasonality of South by Southwest is a really interesting way to work. And every seasoned the season begins with us kind of, or began with us kind of focusing on like what are, what are the signals that we're going to put out there in the panel picker in terms of what we're looking for. And that all is kind of like relayed into, you know, what, what were the tracks of programming going to be calling? What were these district descriptions of these tracks of programming? And so that was just kind of like, that was informed by the content that did well the previous year, it was informed by areas that we thought we needed to go into. And you know, there was really, there was no formal process. It was just all kind of you know, it was a lot of times spent in conference rooms, hashing out what direction we felt we needed to go every single year.


Todd (16:11):

So you kind of put that out in the panel picker and you see how the people would respond to that and what kind of proposals were coming in and how they took what we said. And they could, you know, submit a lot of stuff that we were like, well, we didn't really see that idea coming, or there's a lot of concentration in this area, or we didn't even know this area existed within this track of programming or this area of expertise. And it's really starting to bubble up. We're seeing a lot of studio submissions around like these micro topics or something like that. And so you know, it's just, it's just a lot of work. It's a lot of bearing yourself in the content and looking, looking for signals to having to deal with a lot of noise. And you know, sometimes shooting from the hip a little bit too.


Bailey (17:00):

It's what motivated South by Southwest to introduce that. Do you know like why they could have just not ever created a system for people to vote on topics? Yeah. So why did they do that?


Todd (17:13):

That's a good question. And I don't, I'm not exactly sure. I have the inside track on that cause the PanelPicker was around before I showed up and I forget the name of the guy at South by that built it or kind of came up with it. And I think it was, I think it was probably a collaboration between, you know, Hugh forest and Sean who was still there at the time and maybe some other folks. So forgive me anybody who's listening to this that I'm not explaining it properly, but you know, I think at the end of the day, what was happening was, you know, it takes a lot of, and a lot of work to create content from scratch. And so why not just go out to the people that are coming to your event and that want to come to your event and get their buy-in on. You kind of get this wonderful flywheel effect, right? Where, you know, they're invested, they may have a chance to come and speak. They may have a chance to, you know, tell their friends to come. And so you might sell some more tickets. I think it just started from a place of creative curiosity to see what would happen if you just kind of listened to the masses and tried to help them talk about the topics and things they wanted to talk about.


Bailey (18:28):

I love that full, full endorsement from the community nerds interviewing you, but for anyone listening, that's interested in introducing something similar, anything that you would recommend to look out for when or think about or comes to the table with, if you're going to strike this balance of having an in-house editorial programming team and bring in submissions from the sort of like wider sea of people around an event, like what, what does it take to be able to do that effective?


Todd (19:04):

Well, I think the first thing you have to do is be okay with people being disappointed and potentially being mad at you if they if they don't, if their idea doesn't get corrected. Yeah. I think that's true. You know, I think, and I think that's, maybe sometimes I'm just speculating here. A lot of the reason why some, a lot of people don't do that approach because getting negative feedback or having, you know, people upset that their ideas aren't you know, maybe what they think of that being valuable or valued enough, or blah, blah, blah. You know I think the thing is you have to be prepared for that first. And then, you know, the second thing is like, you kind of have to be clear about what kind of scaffolding you're going to build for people to hang their ideas on, you know?


Todd (19:56):

And I think that's and then you have to, you have to believe that that scaffolding is going to hold, and then you have to, you know, turn those ideas into, into good content. And then you have to give the people that want to do that content, the tools to succeed, you know, and that was the, one of the interesting things about South by, because just because of its full background here, I never came from a conference background, obviously. So this whole thing was really new to me. So when I started, I mean, I jumped in to the deep end with this stuff, you know? And so


Bailey (20:31):

The Barton Springs jump off the diving board


Todd (20:36):

For sure. Anyway, I think that, you know, at the scale at South by was op is operating on, it was operating on in terms of the conference. The, a lot of the work was making sure that, you know, these, this session organizers and the people on the sessions had the tools that they needed to be successful. Because a lot of people, you know, South by Southwest, sometimes it's their first time ever up in front of an audience or on a panel or whatever, you know, so that can be terrifying for a lot of people. I mean, obviously public speaking for some is scariest thing. Some people can do. But you've got to try to, you know, you've got to unpack their ideas. You need to help guide them. You need to tell them what's going to work and what's not going to work.


Todd (21:18):

And so it's just a lot of, a lot of communication. We spent a lot of time communicating through the panel picker with what we wanted to hopefully get. And then, you know, once we worked through our processes at South by Southwest to kind of pick these sessions, then it was, you know, months of working with session organizers to make sure that they felt supported and that they stayed on task, that the content was going to be good. So, because quality control in terms of the scale South by Southwest was a really, really hard thing. So I think if you're going to do this and you're going to go to your community, realize that you're going to have to support and prop up your community too. And it's not a part-time job. It's a full-time thing.


Bailey (22:03):

It's remarkable how much you guys were able to produce and having gone there and been there myself and now talking to you and widening my empathy and imagination of the work went into it. It's just really impressive. I want to talk to you about what you're working on now and before, you know, transitioning to that. I just want to ask you about leaving South by Southwest, because it's been such a crazy couple of years and you know, how, how has that been for you after working on something for 10 years to sort of transition away?


Todd (22:36):

That's a good question. I mean, it was interesting. I mean, obviously a bit of a shock last March. As you know, the backstory there for anybody who doesn't know that might be listening, you know, that we're kind of leading up to the event, we're watching the Corona virus start to kind of spread around the world and kind of wondering, you know, what's going to happen next. What are we going to do South by Southwest was kind of the next big event that was coming up in the in the calendar for a lot of people. And you know, the city of Austin eventually canceled South by Southwest and South by Southwest. You know, that's all South by Southwest does is one event. There's no parent company. There's, there's nothing. That's how South by Southwest makes its money. So when that, when the event doesn't happen layoffs and Sue, and so, you know, laid off a bunch of people at South by Southwest, I think about a third of the company, I was unfortunately part of that.


Todd (23:25):

And so of course, a big shock to the system, a big shock to something that I love doing, but also like the seasonality of it was a kind of a big thing too. I mean, it really, it's not just you, that's doing South by Southwest. If you have a family, your family is doing South by Southwest with you too. So, you know, they're coming along for the ride they want to, or not. And in terms of the seasonality and the slow build and the big climax of having the events and then the, you know the drop off, you know, so I think the biggest change is evolving out of that way of doing work. And so the last nine to 10 months has been really interesting in that transition, of course, within a pandemic, that's a whole new set of rules and in a whole new ball game, obviously, you know, everybody's dealing within there's people who have been having a far harder time than I have. I'm sure of it. And I know it. So I think it's just the mental gymnastics of, you know, it's kind of that thing of you're building up to something and then you kind of get to release and do it and have it happen. And when you don't get to have that happen, and then you realize you're probably not going to be able to make that thing again. It's kind of a one-two punch. So it takes, it takes, it took a little time, had to walk it off a bit, as they say,


Bailey (24:45):

Turn on the processing, the emotional mental processing machine. I'm sure. Thank you for sharing. Well, I feel like in the wake of all of that and of the whole world changing, I'm so stoked and impressed by the way you responded. So you launched the artists rescue trust with some friends and it supports musicians and artists who had their ability to perform to her and earn a living negatively affected by the pandemic. And it sounds to me like a really rad way to continue some of the themes in your career, which is to support creative people and also to give them a podium to give them a platform. So I'm curious, can you tell us a little bit about you use the acronym, art art for the artists rescue rescue trust, bold move. And I was curious about, can you just talk about how it functions and why it exists maybe to start to


Todd (25:46):

Sure, absolutely why it exists? Well, it exists because like all good ideas, a bunch of friends on a, on a group phone call kind of as the pandemic was really starting to hit hard right after when South by Southwest would have happened. And we're all on the phone. Everybody's checking in, in my world, Austin was going into complete lockdown. And so, you know, everybody was kind of wondering what, what could we do? How could we help? Like where can we focus our time and attention you know, just kind of mildly panicking, but also like trying to find the best and the goodness in the situation that was happening. And so we kind of spun up this idea of like, you know, coming from my world, I was looking at spreadsheets in real time watching, you know, bands cancel watching their tool, tourists fall apart, watching, you know, filmmakers not being able to like, you know, to show the film that they'd been working on for five years, because they got to premiere at South by Southwest things like, I mean, there's just a lot of creative destruction happening for a lot of people.


Todd (26:49):

And so in realizing that this thing wasn't going to go away really soon, we just kind of spun up this idea and we're like, cool, why don't we directly fund people? And how much should that be? And we're like, well, why don't we give people $500 a month for three months? You know, cause we had no idea at the time how long this was all gonna last, but we wanted to kind of support people in a way that made sense support them in a way that they could use the money. However they wanted to use it kind of like a universal, basic income idea and you know, kind of be hands-off, but also fund as many people as possible, as fast as possible. So the that's how the idea started and an old friend of mine, Michael kneeling, who runs this creative agency called occupy who everybody's check out minor plug he, you know,


Todd (27:46):

On projects together in the past. We had, you know, I was kind of co-conspirator and trying to start a shoe company with them called land-owner that lasted for a few years. Anyway, we just decided that like, Hey, let's do what we've always done. Let's take this idea. Let's make it look really good. Let's make it look really real. And let's find other people to jump in with us and see what we can have happen. You know, and obviously over the course of any conversations we got introduced to Nathaniel Manning. He used to be the CEO of Ushahidi, which is largest open platform for NGOs and nonprofits that they use to organize. And so he kind of brought this huge deep bench of like nonprofit experience to us, a lot of stuff we didn't know. And then we just kind of routed, he rallied some of his staff cause he's doing a startup now called kettle.


Todd (28:33):

Michael rallied, some of his staff, I rallied some friends and we just said, okay, let's go try to raise some money and see what can happen. And within, I think about a month and a half, we raised about $80,000 and it was all volunteer effort at the, at that point. And we just started spreading the word about these little micro grants we were going to give out and people started applying. And so we just kind of gave all that money away. And then we all looked at each other and said, so what do we do next?


Bailey (29:05):

Well, if there's someone who can look through a spreadsheet of submissions and figure out how to funnel money out to all of those different people and opportunities, I'm sure it's, it's you man. And how, how do you guys, I know it's different than South by Southwest though. So how do you think about approaching just selecting, selecting the people that submit, like how, how do you move through awarding grants and all that? Yeah.


Todd (29:28):

Yeah. It's pretty easy. We wanted to keep it as simple as possible and we didn't really, you know, the basically there's three things that they have to kind of demonstrate one, excuse me. One is, you know, they have to show that they are, you know, actively pursuing their art full-time or as close to full-time as possible or that, so you know, kind of not looking for the part-time poet who also works at an ad agency, kind of looking for some people who are, you know, they lost substantial amount of money because they couldn't do their tour or they put out a, you know, they had a book published and they couldn't go on their, their, their book reading tour or you know, the painter, who's all there, all their art shows where they would show out during the season got canceled, stuff like that.


Todd (30:18):

So there's kind of that piece. And it's actually, it's not in this one other thing and they can't be on unemployment. So in this, we kind of wrote these rules kind of before a lot of the cares act stuff came out and all the new legislation came out. So some of this stuff might get adjusted, but at the end of the day, they kind of have to show that those eligibility requirements and kind of take those a few of those boxes. And basically they go into an eligibility pool and then after that we run a random number generator. And if we do that against the money that we have to give out, if we can fund five people, we run the generator five times or whatever number pop up. Those are the people that we fund.


Kevin (30:57):

So I didn't expect the random number generator to come into this conversation. But when you said, when you said simple as possible, it's like, okay, we filter down and then there you go.


Todd (31:09):

Yeah. And it works really well. And it's, you know, we didn't want to get in the weeds and, you know, you know, like looking at P w we are not, our job is not to judge the quality of somebody whose work that they create our job was to help people. Right.


Bailey (31:25):

We're not, we're not going to PanelPicker and


Todd (31:29):

We're not, we're not going, we're not going to PanelPicker on it. We're going like geo baseline qualification stuff. Right. Yeah. And then, and then, you know, just let the computer pick and then the money goes out. And that's it. And that formula won't change at least in, in, in the, in the foreseeable future. So it's really kind of fun. It it's, it, it takes takes a lot of stress out of it. We'll put it that way.


Bailey (31:58):

Does anybody come to mind in terms of someone, either a recipient of sort of one of these grants or someone in that broader sort of community around artists rescue trust that that person's experience as a part of the trust has really meant something to you?


Todd (32:18):

I don't think I would. I don't think I would want to single anyone person out. I think that more so reading through the applications is stirring and happy and sad and kind of a whole bevy of emotions because, you know, we give people kind of the freedom for them to tell us kind of story and their background and what's going on and kind of as this pandemic goes on, and as everybody continues to try to hang on to some sort of normalcy or reality, or trying to see over the horizon line to when they can get back out on the road and do tours or start showing their art again, or, you know, if they should write that next book, if they're not going to be able to go out and do a book tour, you know, I mean the world has adapted a lot and kind of created more spaces for this stuff to happen now, virtually, but it's not the same as in person.


Todd (33:13):

And so it's, you know, we're still a ways out, but kind of reading these people's stories and, and understanding how big the need is and how that there's no social safety net for folks that are trying to do art full-time and there should be and the, we are kind of like putting band-aids on it a little bit and during a pandemic that's great. I hope help gets to the people that need the help that they need, the help that they need. But, you know, I think it just opens up the broader conversation of, you know, how can, what can we do in the future to make sure that this doesn't happen again? You know, or at least that there's user, there's more levers to pull for people to, to kind of get the support they need to honestly, to put food on the table, you know? So there's not really one story. It's just more of a, you know, it's community, it's the collective story of, of, you know, when the lights go out and nobody can go do the things they need to do to earn a living. That's really starting from a really hard place. And I don't know, there's a lot of hope in there though, too, and a lot of resilience. So you know, for us, we're just doing our small part to try to help.


Bailey (34:36):

One, one thing I know that happened recently is you guys received something like a hundred thousand dollar grant to go out and distribute, is that right?


Todd (34:45):

Yeah, that is that is a crazy story. We to kind of backtrack a little bit. So we gave out, you know, we, we had about 80 grand to give up, to give out, we gave that money out. And then everybody just everybody's worlds kind of started to pick up a little bit. And so, you know, we were like, yay, we Pat each other on the back and said, that's great. When we try to do a couple small fundraising campaigns and raised a little bit of more money. And then we got a friend of ours kind of said, Hey, maybe you guys should apply for this grant from grant for the web. And so we got introduced to the folks over there, grant for the web is essentially a a hundred million dollar fund that is supporting projects that are using their technology, which is called big, or they're calling it web to find out a better way for people to make money off the web, basically get the web off advertising and bad data practices. Like that's the big dream. And so we, we approached them, we started working on a grant over a few months, and then in November we found out that we got a $300,000 grant from them.


Bailey (35:58):

Oh, Boucher was way off three X, that number calculations.


Todd (36:03):

Thank you. It's crazy. So the artists rescue trust went from something that was kind of on the back burner to, Oh, wow. Okay. Now we've got this, this, this money. We get to give out a hundred grants with it's about 150,000, we'll go out. And then we're kind of building these kinds of education resources for grant for the web that kind of like asynchronous trainings, if you will, about web monetizations for the creative community to kind of show them how they can use the technology and what it is, and how they could plug it into their website or into the streaming services they use or, or whatever it still is kind of a nacient and thing. So people are really experimenting with it and learning about it. So we get to be out front on the, on the kind of the arts and creative side and say, Hey, look over here, we're giving out these, these grants, but also, Hey, check out what grant for the web is doing and, you know, tell your friends about it and help them spread the word about it.


Todd (37:00):

So it's, it's cool. It's, it's it's now a focus for me. It'd be doing this for about the next six to seven months. And then hopefully, you know, we'll find some more money to give away at the end of the day. It's all about trying to create kind of a consistent flow and fund as many people as possible.


Bailey (37:21):

You clearly contain multitudes. Like you've done many different things throughout your life, and I'm sure there's a whole list of things that I don't even know that you've tackled, but one very clear thread is that you've done a lot behind the scenes to support other people who have, are creative or have like a message to have a platform or support to get it out to the world. Right. And sort of curious, like why, where does that motivation to do that work come from for you? Why are you, so what about that work is important to you or where does that passion come from?


Todd (38:03):

That's a good question. I think it's just probably just an innate feeling. It's just kinda part of my DNA. It's just kind of something that I've always done, I guess. You know I, I like, I like that role. I like helping figure out that kind of stuff and getting ideas out there and sharing those ideas with people or sharing opportunities with people. I think it probably actually rolls pretty deeply into the fact that I'm a Gemini. So yeah. So just go ahead and read any description of a Gemini and I'm, I'm a little bit a bullseye on that one. So but no, it's, I mean, yeah, I think that that's, for me, that's the good work to do. That's the fun, that's the fun work to do. And I think I've done it my entire life, whether, you know, I think it takes many forms, right?


Todd (39:09):

Whether that's bringing people together to throw a party in high school or, you know, being part, you know, being part of like a theater production or, you know, being, you know, being part of a band trying to start a record label you know, at the end of the day, it's always started from a place of collaboration and then hoping that that collaboration is something that can be then shared out. And so that gets kind of, it's always just kind of been baked into the work that I've chosen to do. And unfortunately I'm kind of, I don't know how you would say it. It's tough for me not to chase things that interest me and I'm just going to, I'm just going to go after that, that stuff or whatever. So yeah, I think at the end of the day, it's, it's just, it's just a big part of who I am as a person. So


Bailey (40:07):

Final question for you is how can our listeners help? Like, what do you need more of? Is it money? Is it to get people to submit? Is it team members, volunteers, like how can anyone who's listening, help, help artists rescue trust?


Todd (40:23):

Sure. I think the big thing right now, obviously it's going to be, is going to be money so we can help more people and they can go to artists, and, and, and, and give their you know, any amount helps five bucks, 10 bucks, a hundred bucks, something like that. So that would be the big thing. There's, there's, we've seen a huge uptick in applications for the grants, even in the last the last week. So, you know, I think people are really figuring out, you know, this is going to continue to go on. The pandemic is going to continue to go on. And there's a lot of other resources now that have been tapped out that don't have any more money to help folks. So I think in the immediate that's, that's kind of, kind of the big thing. But you know, if you want to, if you have cool stuff and have some ideas about how you might be able to help us, anybody can hit me up at Todd T O D D at artists, And tell me what's on your mind.


Bailey (41:25):

Awesome. Todd, thank you so much for the time and I'm going to be following you wherever you go, because, and I feel like you have good instincts and I just want to see what you chase around. So thanks for spending the time with us.


Kevin (41:45):

If you want to connect with the artist rescue trust, head to artists,, thank you to our team. Thank you to Rosana Cubbon for engineering and editing Greg David for his design work and Katie O'Connell for marketing this episode


Bailey (41:59):

And find out more about the work we do as people in company, where we act as ongoing strategy partners, helping a limited set organizations develop and realize their community investments to team up with us, head to our website, people Also, if you want to start your own community or supercharge one, you're already a part of our handbook is here for you. Visit get together to grab a copy. It's full of stories and learnings from conversations with community leaders like this one with Todd, last thing, if you don't mind, if you're still here hanging with us, please review this podcast or click subscribe. It helps get these stories out to more people. Thank you. We'll talk to y'all next.


Speaker 4 (42:42):