I recently became aware of a company that is offering artists in NYC and Chicago a flexible alternative to the waiting tables option. Sitters Studio provides babysitting work to performing and visual artists. The parents get a babysitter who offers creative activities to their children. The artists get an opportunity to employ their training and perhaps hone their skills and approach if they have any plans for bringing arts and arts education to children and families.
Sitters Studio trains their people in CPR, does background checks and bonds them but then appears to act as a clearing house for jobs. The sitters get a minimum of 4 hours pay in cash at the end of a session and help with cab fare after 9 pm. Rates start at $18 in NYC and $15 in Chicago. The interesting thing about the NYC side is that they seem to offer their services on something of a subscription basis. For $200/year you get priority service and a better rate than single time callers. They also offer cancellation forgiveness and bulk purchase and referral incentives.
All in all, it sounds like a great idea for all involved, especially if it results in kids growing up to appreciate the arts. The company provides their babysitters with a “Tote of Toys” that according to this story, serves as an ice break and source of ideas for the babysitting experience.
“We’ve given the sitters something from every art medium,” says Wilson. “We give them something that’s from a visual art, a theatrical art, a dance discipline and also from the musical discipline and we really find that it’s a great starting off point for the kids to engage in play.”
There seems to be a fair bit of potential in this company both as a business and as a way for advancing the interests of the arts community. There is certainly always an opportunity for conflicts of interest with people taking advantage of their close relationship with a family to sell/promote their personal work. But there is also opportunity for unified action. Last December all the babysitters had their charges working on cards for the armed forces overseas. I imagine that periodically Sitters Studio could sponsor some other unified initiative that reinforced the value of the arts in people’s lives without being pedantic.