Deep Thought Thursday: Organizations

Are there too many art organizations out there?

Are there too many art museums and art centers?

Are our messages being watered down because they're spread too thin?

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22 thoughts on “Deep Thought Thursday: Organizations”

  1. Po Kerbon, US Coder

    If there is no sufficient reason for something about the world (any event, fact, and so on… in the world), then that something can’t be fully understood. (because understanding it requires understanding why it happened, why it is as it is, and the answers of those things are sufficient reasons)

  2. I don’t think so – I work with several conservation organizations, not to mention the thousands that exist, and that hasn’t watered down their message. If anything, is has brought more awareness to the environment and our impact on it. “Green” is now the hot word at the moment. Perhaps we need to do the same with art, and bring more appreciation and respect to it as a noble way to make a living – something that’s been missing in our “get rich quick” culture. The NY Times article you mentioned a few days ago is a perfect example. Perhaps what we’re missing is the right leadership…that’s another topic all together.

  3. What an odd question. It is like asking if the are too many libraries. If so, do they dilute our knowledge by spreading the love of reading too thin? I have known a few arts organizations that don’t have a firm grasp of what their message is. Some have lost the vision that they originally had. Some have not changed as the community changed and are no longer relevant to artists or community. And some have allowed their message to become unclear. I don’t think we could possibly have too many vibrant and clearly focused arts organizations. They are at the heart of our cultural life. Even if the community in general do not recognize their worth, their absence would be devastating to our culture. One good outcome of the recession might be that the weakest arts organizations might fold. In the long haul the stronger ones – those that truly benefit the artists and their community – will probably survive and be stronger for it. We can always hope and pray.

  4. Too many for whom? I think there is an implication in your question that there may be too much competition out there. Instead, I believe we need more art education so that more people appreciate the value of art and feel confident in making choices that enrich their lives. That way more people can make art and find an audience for it.

  5. I don’t believe there are too many art centers, museums or organizations that server their use. Educating people on art is very important. However, it feels as if there are a lot of duplicate art groups on the internet. Take the popular networking sites, for example, and look at the groups that one can join. On one site there are many duplicate art/museum/gallery/collector groups, zillions of daily painters, etc… some almost having the same name. A lot of the same artists, including myself, belong to each group with the hopes of showing their work to someone who matters. The effort and pressure to keep up can feel intense at times because the internet creates the sense of “now”. In terms of delivering our often similar messages, there are many, many paths for us to navigate (literally a web) with the hopes that our messages will reach the right people, collectors in most cases. As artists, I think it’s important to realize that it’s not easy to reach every collector or possibility but that each of us will reach some. It’s hard not to duplicate information and yes, most have the same message. Maybe the real question is, if only a few receive the message, wouldn’t it be worth it?

  6. With so many auto dealerships closing, wouldn’t it be great if part of the bailout included opening up a couple of art centers in abandoned showrooms in every city. And their parking lots would be perfect as sculpture parks.

  7. It’s my job with DTT to push you. With that in mind . . . Let me rephrase: Are there too many dysfunctional art organizations? Some people think they have to form a formal organization in order to promote their cause. Formal organizations compete for donor money, grants, and sponsorships. What if we joined forces??? What if the pastel society actually spoke to and collaborated with the watercolor society?!!

  8. I’m going to include guilds in this line of discussion, as I’m a craft artist. I’ve noticed that the older organizations have trouble getting younger and newer members to participate in them. I’ve noticed that people will join just for the exposure or the exhibition opps, without wanting to volunteer any of their time. That’s understandable when you pay dues and your time is stretched thin, but it doesn’t help the group grow to meet your needs either. A few of the guilds that I belong to seem to be very cliquey, started by a group of people who all took classes together for example. This makes it hard for new members to feel a part of them. Also many of these groups are older artists who have been doing this for years and don’t always see the need to change with the times. When many of a group’s members don’t even have a website how do you even begin to discuss web 2.0 applications with them and how they might help your organization? These problems aren’t confined just to arts organizations either. Many other communities have organizations experiencing these same problems. (PS I’m not down on older artists, but I feel that what worked in the 70s and 80s doesn’t always work in the 2000s and regardless of age if you don’t recognize this, it makes it hard to be a relavent organization.)

  9. …returning from New Mexico, it must seem that everyone is part of a dysfunctional art organization, New Mexico is the mecca for dysfunctional artists & their segregated organizations…No, I do not think the pastel society could actually speak to and collaborate with the watercolour society – I’m pretty sure peace in the Middle East is a more attainable goal…maybe your next trip should be somewhere bereft of art & its societies-put you back in perspective…(p.s. I think the dysfunctional aspect is from lead poisoning actually…)

  10. If art organization are working to compete then yes their can be to many because each will push their own individual messag in an effort to drown out the other. However, if art organizations work as a unit thru good old fashion networking and thru the new social networking then the more the better. An organiztion can thus either help or hurt the cause of art awarness.

  11. Poor management has been the main problem in the arts organizations I have been involved with. I assume it’s partly because those who have great passion for the arts tend to be artists themselves, not managers. It’s a thankless job, scrounging for money to keep afloat, so it takes driven commitment, and knowledge and intelligence about art, the kind that often comes through the study of art and the practice of the artist. An artist would have to give up his/her own art work in order to take on management. But management is a learned business skill. Most arts organizations are run by people without any management training, much less aptitude for it. A degree in art teaches nothing about fiscal management, personnel hiring and firing, conflict management, motivating employees, etc.

  12. Oh NO. I don’t feel there are too many. I think there are not enough. In fact, I recently read about the public art installation in San Francisco “Language of the Birds” is a permanent installation by San Francisco artists Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn. This is not an “organization” but it represents how our society could be. All these organizations need to help put ART out there so it can be accessible. Just last night, I had a conversation with a fundraiser for National Museum of Woman Artists. I told him NMWA doesn’t really do anything for the NOW. We need to support artists who make art today and those who relate to the moment. Can you imagine how our lives would be if art was on every street corner? I can. Splendid! Sheree Rensel

  13. In my experience, most of the arts organizations are to some degree dysfunctional. They suffer from poor leadership and bad management. They are mostly run by artists not managers. Which is a good thing, mostly. I will put up with some dysfunctionally to get someone who really loves art rather than a petty bureaucrat who makes “management decisions” without a feel for the product. Are there too many of them? No! Their job is to get art recognized and accessible. We need more, not less.

  14. This is a topic that I had wanted to see discussed for a while. When making the jump to start getting out in the world to show work we are encouraged to join and network and then you come into some of the well established groups out there and they have been run by artists. Now from my experience things are changing as it always does and it’s not the same as it was but some of the older groups don’t want to change. The members have started this out and fear what will happen with change and they hang on to old ways that’s all they know. So with the new generation of artists joining they see this and turn right around and not join. It’s a time of transtion for many of the art leagues and guilds I belong to, there non for profit and need people to run them, but the artist just dont have the time to spend. We are working many jobs so that we can still do what we love to do. I believe the art groups are going to need to change too. To keep their doors open them may need to take an approach like more of a business then a social group.

  15. Wendy and Laura: Interesting to think about it as a generational thing. I wonder what will become of organizations that can’t get new members. All: I contend that if organizations were better managed, we’d have a higher rate of participation by quality people, better exhibits from them, better recognition from the media, and more money flowing into the arts. But there aren’t enough good managers to go around for all of the organizations out there–especially for unpaid positions. The best-run organizations (and I’ve worked with a LOT of them!) have a paid staff of some sort.

  16. Alyson, I’ve made mention of paying someone to be there and update to a internet and use the new tech stuff but the older memebers are unsure and could be afraid of losing what they have worked so hard to bring to life. Change is always going to happen and we have to be ready for it right some go kicking and screaming. Good topic and seems to be coming up in other on line groups I’m involved in. ~v~

  17. In reference to Philip Koch’s idea: WOW! “With so many auto dealerships closing, wouldn’t it be great if part of the bailout included opening up a couple of art centers in abandoned showrooms in every city. And their parking lots would be perfect as sculpture parks.” What a great idea! N.E.A: are you listening? I agree: education about all aspects of art, should be top priority for everybody. To add to that: a degree in fine arts: management/business classes would be good. ~C

  18. I think there are too many that do the same things. People tend to start reciprocal organizations that answer to the same goal. That’s not what we need, nor is it beneficial to an area. There are organizations that get thousands to put on services which benefit only a few. Does that mean these programs are unnecessary? No, but perhaps with ONE good program, money could be better allocated. Perhaps there is something to be said about the way programs are audited. How do we measure success with a not-for-profit program? Is it the same way we measure success in our public schools? The most benefitted people? When does success become stagnant and doesn’t grow?

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