Soapbox: Send Emissaries

These are hard economic times for everyone including artists. Artists need to have money to afford a roof over their heads, eat like everyone else, and pay for supplies, studios etc. In addition, artists need to have enough time left over to make artwork. Creative types are usually good at juggling all these balls, but have to live closer to the edge than many other people. So when the arts community asks artists to join them as a members, donate a piece of art, write their elected officials on their behalf, to buy a ticket or an ad, they are asking a lot. It seems obvious that these groups want the support of the artists. If so, then they should show some interest and support in return.

On a recent trip to Chicago I opened an arts publication that had a full-page ad from one of the major museums announcing a new talent exhibition featuring "local" artists. I have seen similar programs in other places where I have lived. I know there have been a couple attempts at this locally, but they are always targeted at the same groups. There needs to be a more inclusive approach if you really want to get the artists on board. Why not organize a large area survey show like those held in the past? Another idea is to offer artists special discounts for admission into exhibitions and events. I am not picking on the big institutions. This problem runs through every arts organization large and small.

One idea I propose to help the situation is for these places to send emissaries. Come out to artist receptions, outside of your normal clique, it doesn't cost you any money and you will build some good will. Say hello, leave a business card and talk about the art. You got into the art biz because you liked it so you will most likely find it interesting and fun to get out and enjoy what the artists have to offer.

There are countless other ways to show support - invite representatives from galleries, coops, art centers and individuals to attend a summit to talk about the state of the arts in Philadelphia. What about studio visits? None of these ideas are outrageous or even unusual and many could be done without spending a dime. Come out, be an emissary, support each other in these hard economic times, and it will be rewarding on a number of levels.

UPDATE: I just read that The Philadelphia Museum of Art has hired a new chief executive officer, Mr. Timothy Rub of the Cleveland Museum of Art. In the Inquirer article on the point about raising money Mr. Rub says the "key for me has always been: Are you passionate about what you are asking people to support? If you believe in the thing you are talking to people about helping, whether it is education or an acquisition or the fabric of the building, people are going to be moved by the passion and the value they perceive to the community and the mission of the institution." I think this speaks to my whole point.

As seen on the Cleveland Museum of Art's website they have a number of community outreach programs, some that even include visual artists. So maybe there is some hope here.

Here are a couple of lines I pulled from The Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland
The Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), located behind the Cleveland Play House on Carnegie Avenue, hosts eleven temporary exhibitions each year, featuring emerging international artists as well as notable artists, in all genres, from Northeast Ohio... The Museum of Contemporary Art supports the Northeast Ohio community that supports them. The museum offers FREE admission to its exhibits, lectures, and most special events for Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University Students.