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On April 14, 2022, Common Field announced it will begin an intentional sunsetting process to close the organization and its programs by December 2022. You can learn more about our Sunset Announcement process and decision here. You can contact us with questions at questions [​at​] commonfield.org

Organizational History

Common Field was inspired by numerous conversations amongst arts organizers about the need for a coalition to bring visibility and regular connection to the broad spectrum of independent, experimental, contemporary visual artist projects and spaces operating today. Historically, groups such as the National Association of Artists’ Organizations (NAAO) (1982-2001) and the Warhol Initiative (1999-2012), neither of which remain active, provided forums for exchange, advocacy, and learning for visual arts organizers.

Common Field’s six founders--Elizabeth Chodos, Courtney Fink, Nat May, Abigail Statinsky, Stephanie Sherman, and Shannon Stratton-- connected through their participation in the Warhol Initiative program, supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Inspired by the network created by that program and process, they began shaping a model for what would become Common Field. The first iteration of this work was Hand-in-Glove, a two-day conference organized by Threewalls in Chicago in October 2011, which brought together local organizers to discuss sustainability, regionalism, new models, archives, and more.

In 2013, co-founders organized a retreat at Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, MI and invited 20 additional field leaders to identify needs, discuss visions and missions, explore historical precedents, and devise infrastructures that could support a larger, open body of membership. The next iteration of that work was the 2013 Hand in Glove gathering hosted by Press Street in New Orleans, where the founders worked with various field members to lay the groundwork for Common Field.

In 2015, a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts enabled the public mobilization of Common Field as a Convening and Network, launching public paid membership in 2015 at the Convening in Minneapolis. Common Field ran as a project from 2015-2016 funded primarily by the Warhol Foundation. Common Field earned its 501c3 organizational status in 2017 which was supported by an increased gift from the Warhol Foundation.

In the years that followed, Common Field continued to produce national Convenings in 2016 (Miami), 2017 (Los Angeles), and 2019 (Philadelphia), and Houston (2020) which moved online due to the pandemic. Convenings in cited locations worked with local partners, garnered local financial support, and brought 100s of people together. In 2021, Common Field organized its first online Convening with national partners from around the country. From 2019 to 2022, Common Field received support from the National Endowment for the Arts for Convenings as well.

During its life, Common Field also focused on building and expanding its Network membership program offering members discounts to attend the Convening, grant opportunities, and various partnerships for publication, programs, conversations, and support of projects. Common Field aimed to build an organization that supported the pluralities and multiplicities of perspectives in the field and develop an operating structure that can enable flexibility, feedback, responsiveness, rotating teams, and broad participation from the field and its friends.

In 2020, Common Field’s founding executive director departed and new leadership at both the staff and board level was established in 2021. During that year, Common Field strategically expanded its staff (from three to six) and embarked on a serious reflective process through a 360 Organizational Audit process conducted by consultants Shana Turner and S. Mandisa Moore-O'Neal. The process focused on understanding misalignments between the organization's founding values and its practice from 2015-2020. The resulting report and the organizational leadership’s work to understand the financial, structural, and ethical outcomes of these misalignments led to the decision to sunset the organization in 2022. You can read more about that process and decision here.

The 2021-2022 Common Field staff and board moved through this process and decision with intention and with the founding values of the organization at heart. In sunsetting, we hope that the lessons and outcomes of this process will provide possibilities for new paths forward in our field. We thank you for being part of this great work.