How ATB supports Alberta’s freelance artists
By ATB Financial 13 May 2019 2 min read
For many artists, going to the bank means getting a massive headache. It means being talked down to. It means being refused a loan or a mortgage. It means feeling underdressed in your everyday clothes. It means trying to explain to someone who’s always drawn a regular salary that your income just doesn’t look like theirs, and neither do your financial priorities.
The bank for artists
At The Branch for Arts + Culture, we’re trying to do better—for both individual artists and arts organizations.
Erin Pankratz, a mosaic artist based in Edmonton, says it best: “You go into a regular bank and it’s like ‘Convince us that you’re worthy.’ At The Branch, they’re eager to find a way to help you, because they know that if artists don’t get help, they’re not going to be able to make art.”
Art + banking = The Branch
The biggest difference between The Branch and a regular bank is in our perspective. Because our bankers are artists themselves, they understand where artists are coming from—and they’re equipped to meet you where you’re at. We take a more informal, wholistic look at your financial picture, taking into account your different sources of income (no matter how many there are!), your credit rating, your forthcoming grant and contract payouts, etc.
Looking for a mortgage as an artist? That’s why we’re here. What about advice on how to invest without locking away your money forever (just in case you have to access it next year)? What about a loan to study with a master, fund your breakout album or take your studio to the next level?
Financial planning for freelancers
Even if you, like Erin, are in a tough financial position that’s been developing over years as you’ve built up a practice and honed your skills, the sooner you can get banking support, the better off you’ll be.
From the dry spells between project grants to the minimum-wage and gig work that many artists rely on to pay their bills, there’s not much about an artist’s fiscal reality to inspire images of wealth or glamour. Nevertheless, artists, like most people, want to expand their horizons, save for the future and create some measure of financial stability for themselves and their families.
Financing artists, investing in the arts
As Erin says, “People don’t realize how much of a risk it is to be an artist. There’s that myth of the tortured artist—but actually artists don’t make really great art when they’re being tortured. It’s after the fact, when they’ve come out of it and they have a secure way to express what they went through.”
That’s where we come in. We believe that if artists in Alberta are able to enjoy a measure of support and security, we’ll all reap the benefits.