AIxD Lives On! Joy & Sorrows of Being a Young Org

In our latest bits & blobs, we wrote quite a piece about the joys (like bringing into being what you’re missing in the world ) and sorrows (like writing & getting rejected for so many grant applications this year we didn’t know if/how we were going to make it ) of being a young org. This is a first step into more transparency and behind-the-screens peaks into our journey of becoming.



Dec 2023

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How it started and how it's going?

We started 2023 hungover from our (maybe definitely over-ambitious) 2022 programming. By March, we delivered our first end-of-year report (next one coming in Feb!) and we launched our 2023 programs:

In addition the work above, there’s a thiccckkkk layer of work we do to run AIxD the org – trying to figure out how to sustainably build, nurture, and organize as a community, as an organization, and as a team of individuals with their own practice. Right now, we don’t share too much of this ‘behind the screens’ work, but moving forward, we’d like to tell you more. It is far from easy, but one thing is for sure: we’re learning and getting better at it!

AIxDESIGN is a community-led, independent / DIY, and largely volunteer-run organization. At this moment in time, our core team exists of 4 people, each whose hours are 1/3th of paid time and the other out of love. ❤️‍🩹

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A lot of this year has been trying to figure out if and how we could make AIxD financially sustainable - how to cover our costs, how to fund the time to do the work we feel is meaningful, and how to compensate the core team + contributors more fairly. We aren’t there yet but we’re tinkering, here’s what we tried:

  • We submitted many applications to open calls and arts grants (and spent maaannny hours writing them), and got rejected for basically all of them. It was insightful in some ways but deeply disheartening as we began to question the value of our work and if and how we would be able to continue it.
  • To help bridge the gap we began to take on paid projects and talks & workshops as ‘AIxD for hire’ (more coming soon!). We then direct +/-40% of money earned in those paid projects towards community efforts. This contributed €20,000 to our annual budget – which only made 50% of our annual costs. While this model has helped us pay our bills this year, it also means we have to take on more paid projects to then be able to do more free projects which, at some point, isn’t sustainable.
  • Coming to the end of the year, we weren’t sure how we would make it into 2024 so we wrote one final application and ……
  • WE GOT FUNDED 🥳 Praaaaise the lord & the fund. We like to give big thanks to Stimuleringsfonds Creative Industries for validating the importance of the work we’re doing (once in 2021 and again now) and enabling us to keep collectively unpacking + re-imagining how we (wish to) relate to AI and computational culture with our network of souls & minds that we adore 🫶

So yes: AIxD continues to exist for another year! We are so happy - and as you can imagine deeply relieved 🍾🍾 We will have to keep getting creative about avenues to sustain ourselves that are anti-fragile; continuing our for hire / profit work to pour into the non-profit work but also exploring structures of community / crowd funding. Would you be open to that?

💡 If you said YES, pls help us beta test this and buy us a croissant 🥐

We’re growing up as an org - we feel like we’re kinda entering our teenage years - and it feels good to slowly but surely build out an operational infrastructure that supports & nourishes us and all of you to do this work and to collectively think and make about AI outside the imagination and salary slips of big tech.

We are very excited to share aaaaall the things we got in store for you now that we are granted the time & space. What we can say is there will be lots of thinking out loud sessions, sharing thoughts in progress, and expressing critical discourse into visual cuts and pastes as one of our key partners is the beautiful studio Internet Teapot.

We might go a little quiet for January as we go into planning & hibernation mode but stay in the loop for updates soon to come 🌀🌀

With love,

Nadia + the AIxDESIGN team

🍰🍪🍭 P.S… If you’re curious to hear more or see some faces behind these words, here’s the application video Nadia & Ploi sent to the grant speaking about some of our 2024 ideas, where we also referenced friends’ and friends of friends’ projects we admire namely —> @internetteapot @driesdepoorter #FredWordie @comatter @wepresent