Laura Hoekstra

Author: Laura Hoekstra

Tax Tips for Artists and Musicians

Navigating the tax landscape as an artist or freelance musician can feel opaque and overwhelming. This guide will help you hit the right notes with your tax return, ensuring you claim every deduction and credit legally available.

Know Your Self-Employment:

  • Track everything: Income from gigs, commissions, streaming royalties – every penny counts. Use a dedicated app, spreadsheet, or even a trusty notebook to keep meticulous records.
  • Form 1040 is your friend: You’ll report your professional earnings on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ, depending on your expenses.
  • Self-employment tax is real: Brace yourself for an additional 15.3% tax (covering Social Security and Medicare) on top of your income tax. Factor this into your pricing and budget accordingly.


  • Turn expenses into savings: Instruments, music equipment, studio rent, even sheet music and online subscriptions – many business-related expenses are eligible for deductions.
  • Home office: If you dedicate a designated workspace at home, claim a portion of your rent, utilities, and internet expenses.
  • Marketing: Website fees, social media promotions, and even business cards – all valid deductions for spreading the word about your artistry.

Maximize the Credits:

  • Education: Did you take that masterclass or photography workshop? Educational expenses can be deducted or credited, further sweetening your tax tune.
  • Health: Health insurance premiums are often deductible, helping you stay healthy and financially balanced.

Don’t Go Solo:

  • Tax professionals: Consulting a tax accountant or financial advisor can be a wise investment, especially for complex situations.
  • Networking benefits: Join fellow artists’ unions or professional organizations for shared resources and expert guidance on tax and legal matters.


  • Keep meticulous records: Receipts, invoices, and bank statements are your proof when tax time arrives.
  • Pay estimated taxes: Avoid penalties by making quarterly payments based on your expected income.
  • File on time!

Bonus Tip: Consider incorporating as a business (LLC or S-Corp) for additional tax benefits and legal protection. Consult a professional to see if this is the right step for you.

This is just a starting point, and every artist’s tax situation is unique. Always consult with a professional tax advisor for personalized guidance and ensure you comply with all relevant regulations.

A Guide to Using ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer

If you’re interested in working for or with nonprofit organizations, one valuable resource to aid your research is ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer:

ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer is an online platform that offers a comprehensive database of information about nonprofit organizations operating in the United States.

Here are some tips to use it to your advantage:

  • Use the search bar to look up organizations by name, location, or keyword.
  • Alternatively, you can browse organizations by category, such as education, healthcare, or arts and culture.
  • Dive into an organization’s programs and achievements to evaluate its impact.
  • Look for measurable outcomes, testimonials, and success stories that showcase the nonprofit’s effectiveness in achieving its mission.
  • Learn about the nonprofit’s board of directors, key staff members, and their qualifications.
  • Consider how the organization’s leadership aligns with your values and career goals.
  • Use Nonprofit Explorer to compare several nonprofit organizations side by side.
  • This allows you to make informed decisions about which organizations align most closely with your career aspirations.
  • Once you’ve identified organizations of interest, consider reaching out to their staff or volunteers.
  • Attend events, webinars, or conferences related to the nonprofit sector to expand your network and gather more information.

How to Write Personal Statements for Graduate School Applications

Writing a compelling personal statement for graduate school is crucial to your application’s success. This is your opportunity to showcase your qualifications, experiences, and motivations to the admissions committee. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you craft an effective personal statement:

  • Understand the Purpose:
    • The personal statement allows you to demonstrate why you’re a strong candidate for the program.
    • It should highlight your academic achievements, relevant experiences, and your passion for the field.
  • Research the Program:
    • Familiarize yourself with the specific graduate program you’re applying to, including its mission, faculty, and curriculum.
    • Identify what makes this program unique and how it aligns with your goals.
  • Brainstorm and Outline:
    • Begin by brainstorming your key experiences, achievements, and reasons for pursuing graduate education.
    • Create an outline to organize your thoughts and structure your statement.
  • Start with a Strong Opening:
    • Begin your personal statement with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention.
    • This could be a personal anecdote, a relevant quote, or a brief summary of your journey.
  • Discuss Your Academic Background:
    • Highlight your academic achievements, including relevant coursework, research projects, or honors.
    • Explain how your academic background has prepared you for the graduate program.
  • Showcase Your Relevant Experiences:
    • Discuss internships, research, work experience, or volunteer work that is relevant to your field of study.
    • Provide specific examples of how these experiences have shaped your goals and skills.
  • Explain Your Motivation and Goals:
    • Describe why you are passionate about the field and what motivates you to pursue graduate education.
    • Discuss your short-term and long-term career goals and how the program will help you achieve them.
  • Address Weaknesses (if necessary):
    • If you have any academic gaps or weaknesses, briefly address them and explain how you’ve overcome or learned from them.
  • Show Fit with the Program:
    • Explain why you believe the specific program is the right fit for you and how it will help you achieve your goals.
    • Mention faculty members or research opportunities that align with your interests.
  • Reflect on Personal Growth:
    • Share personal insights or transformative experiences that have influenced your decision to pursue graduate studies.
  • Conclude Strongly:
    • Summarize your main points and reiterate your enthusiasm for the program.
    • End with a forward-looking statement about your potential contributions as a graduate student.
  • Edit and Proofread:
    • Revise your personal statement for clarity, grammar, and coherence.
    • Seek feedback from professors, mentors, or peers to ensure it’s well-polished.
  • Stay Within Word Limits:
    • Adhere to any word or page limits provided by the graduate program.
  • Tailor Your Statement:
    • Customize your personal statement for each program you apply to, emphasizing the aspects most relevant to each.
  • Review and Submit:
    • Review your application and personal statement thoroughly before submitting it by the deadline.

Remember that your personal statement should reflect your unique experiences, aspirations, and personality. Be honest, authentic, and enthusiastic throughout your writing, and make sure it conveys your genuine passion for your chosen field of study and the graduate program you’re applying to.

Navigating the World of Arts Administration

Crowd at a concert

What is Arts Administration?

Arts administration is a vibrant and essential field that bridges the gap between creativity and management in the arts and cultural sector. It plays a crucial role in ensuring that artistic endeavors thrive by handling the business, logistical, and organizational aspects of cultural institutions, performance spaces, museums, galleries, and more.

Often referred to as arts management, arts administration involves the management and coordination of artistic and cultural organizations. This field encompasses a wide range of roles, from managing budgets and fundraising to marketing, event planning, and curatorial work. Arts administrators act as the behind-the-scenes architects who make artistic visions come to life, ensuring that the arts are accessible and sustainable.

How to Prepare for a Career in Arts Administration

  1. Choose the Right Major and Courses

While arts administration programs exist, they are not the only path into the field. Many arts administrators have diverse educational backgrounds in areas such as arts management, business administration, nonprofit management, or even a specific artistic discipline like music, visual arts, or theater. To start, consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a related field, but be sure to include coursework in business, finance, marketing, and nonprofit management to gain a well-rounded foundation.

  1. Gain Practical Experience

Getting hands-on experience is invaluable in arts administration. Seek out internships, volunteer opportunities, or part-time jobs at local arts organizations, museums, or cultural institutions. These experiences will give you a firsthand look at the day-to-day operations and challenges faced in the field. Additionally, they can help you build a network of contacts and references.

  1. Develop Strong Communication and Leadership Skills

Effective communication is essential in arts administration. Arts administrators often work with diverse groups of people, including artists, donors, board members, and the general public. Hone your communication skills, both written and verbal, to convey ideas, facilitate collaboration, and represent your organization professionally.

Leadership skills are equally important. Arts administrators must guide their teams, make critical decisions, and manage resources efficiently. Consider taking leadership courses or seeking leadership roles in student organizations to develop these skills.

  1. Embrace Technology

In today’s digital age, technology plays a significant role in arts administration. Familiarize yourself with relevant software for budgeting, marketing, and database management. Proficiency in social media and online fundraising platforms can also be highly beneficial.

  1. Attend Networking Events and Conferences

Building a strong professional network is crucial for success in arts administration. Attend conferences, seminars, and industry events to meet fellow professionals, learn from experts, and stay updated on industry trends. Many organizations offer student discounts for these events.

  1. Pursue Advanced Education

Consider pursuing a master’s degree in arts administration or a related field. While not always required, it can provide you with a competitive edge in a competitive job market and open doors to higher-level positions.


Arts administration is a fulfilling career that allows you to combine your passion for the arts with your organizational and management skills. To prepare for a successful career in this field, focus on your education, gain practical experience, and develop strong communication and leadership abilities. With dedication and a commitment to the arts, you can play a vital role in supporting and advancing the cultural landscape for future generations.

Example Arts Administration Job Titles:

  • Arts Administrator: A general term that can refer to various administrative roles within arts organizations.
  • Executive Director: The top leadership position responsible for overall management and strategic direction of an arts organization.
  • Development Director or Fundraising Manager: Manages fundraising efforts, grant applications, donor relations, and development strategies.
  • Marketing and Communications Manager: Oversees promotional campaigns, advertising, social media, public relations, and communication efforts to attract audiences and patrons.
  • Program Manager or Curator: Responsible for planning, organizing, and curating exhibitions, performances, or educational programs.
  • Finance Manager or Controller: Handles budgeting, financial planning, accounting, and financial reporting for the organization.
  • Education Coordinator: Develops and manages educational programs and outreach initiatives, often in museums or arts education institutions.
  • Box Office Manager: Manages ticketing operations, customer service, and audience management for performing arts venues.
  • Gallery Manager or Curatorial Assistant: Assists in the management and curation of gallery exhibitions, collections, and installations.
  • Event Planner: Plans and coordinates special events, fundraisers, galas, and performances hosted by arts organizations.
  • Membership Manager: Oversees membership programs, recruitment, and engagement strategies to build a loyal supporter base.
  • Publications Manager or Editor: Manages the production of catalogs, brochures, and other printed materials related to exhibitions and events.
  • Human Resources Manager: Handles personnel matters, including hiring, staff development, and compliance with labor laws.
  • Facility Manager: Manages the maintenance and operation of the physical space, such as theaters, galleries, or museums.
  • Grant Writer: Specializes in writing grant proposals and securing funding from government agencies, foundations, and private donors.
  • Community Engagement Coordinator: Works on initiatives to engage the local community, foster partnerships, and promote cultural inclusion.
  • Legal Counsel: Provides legal guidance on contracts, intellectual property, and compliance with laws and regulations.
  • Technology and Digital Media Coordinator: Oversees digital platforms, website management, and online content development.
  • Archivist: Manages and preserves historical records, artifacts, or collections in cultural institutions like museums and libraries.
  • Visitor Services Manager: Focuses on providing an exceptional visitor experience, including ticketing, guest services, and information.