Local Artists < Deep Thought Thursday

Do you think your municipal, county, and state art agencies (councils, commissions) do enough to support local artists?
What more could they be doing?

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16 thoughts on “Local Artists < Deep Thought Thursday”

  1. Despite repeated educational efforts, most local officials here seem unable to make the connection between arts and community, arts and money, arts and jobs, arts and tourism. Realtors, too, don’t supprt the arts even though facts show that people want to live where there are arts opprtunities. Progress is slow, but like most anything there is the opportunity to make change over time with persistant effort. The State (FL) was doing a better job until priorty changes and budget cuts prevailed. Sigh

  2. My state does a good job overall considering budget cuts. The problem I see is my small town arts council. They are struggling, but there is still a disconnect when it comes to fundraising. Artists get asked over and over to donate time, money, and to give away art. (This after prolonged period of community meetings). I’ve been on local art board and exhibition committee. I was able to get gallery lighting donated and worked hard on other issues such as curating more exciting exhibits. When I was on the board, most board members didn’t really understand how artists live.They feeling I got was they gave their time, why shouldn’t artists give.
    The exhibit committee wanted an easy to accomplish exhibit schedule. Taking time to curate shows was too much work. I met some wonderful people but really saw the limits of the collective imagination of the organization. I did all I could and then resigned.
    Like Jo-Ann, I found the party line of the town was helping artists but the reality very different. This is changing but at a glacial rate.

  3. I’m a member of my State Arts Board (which was just severely de-funded and moved from a stand alone agency to sub-unit of the Department of tourism in our Governor’s recent budget. In Wisconsin there is little understanding on the part of our State level elected officials of the relationship of a strong and vital arts community to the economic health of the State. However, there are several communities around the State that get it and have worked hard to support their artists and community arts organizations. Prior to the attacks on public support for the arts (part of a larger trend to privatize everything) here there had been concerted efforts to focus on helping local arts organizations become strong and self sustaining. There were some arts board sponsored opportunities to help individual artists figure our how to understand themselves as business people but very few funds designated to outright grants for individual artists.
    Right now I think Wisconsin is 49th in public funding for the arts. So ‘no’ I don’t think our State Agency is able to do enough to support local artists, but losing half their staff and most of their budget I blame out elected officials, not the dedicated professional staff that has worked so hard to help us see the arts as vital to our States cultural and economic health.

  4. The local community surrounding Burlington, VT does a lot to support the arts and artists. However, I feel like a majority of the support comes from grassroots organizations and not state or municipal agencies. Organizations like S.E.A.B.A. (South End Art and Business Associate) and Burlington City Arts do great job helping to support the small but vibrant community we have here. Would it be great if there was more money from the state, but being such a small state with tremendously tight budgets, I doubt that would happen any time in the future.

  5. Artists have access to all the resources the council offers for small businesses, including social media courses, small grants (plus extra small grants through the arts office), and other biz networking and training opportunities. Our council has also gone from one of the worst for providing artist studio space in the country, to one of the best – but mainly down to my studio group which is not council run or funded but the council gives us promotional support. I believe that unless an artist is a public/community artist or a registered charitable organisation (some are) then they simply must use the same resources as any other self employed person to run their business and not get special concessions due to the field they’ve chosen. (this has caused heated arguments!)
    However, here in the UK we don’t have the same structure of local/municipal art museums and organisations like you seem to have the USA and which might be more what you’re describing. So there’s a regional level of structure that seems for the most part missing here.

  6. Blech! Everything here is somehow funded by gov’t…red tape abounds…private collectors are cash poor due to high taxes across the board… Non-profits abound… The civil service runs the art world here… Which makes it very hard to earn anything after it has been through several hands first… But yes, we have terrific support on all those levels… (I’d like a little less “support” & a little more money if anyone can pull some strings please)…A Canadian…

  7. For most of us that create art it is a necessity (at the very least a priority). For most of those that buy art it is not a necessity and in hard times not even a priority. So in times when most governments are financially pressed because of spending beyond their means, how can government not cut back at least some on its support for something that is no longer a priority for most people? Yes, in the long run a society is better off if it fully supports the arts. But I believe that diminishing that support now is necessary for many entities, both public and private.

  8. Jim, could you explain how funding is a necessity? I wonder because I don’t actually know any artists who sell their work for a living who get any kind of government support to run their business (local or otherwise). I do know artists who apply for grants and funding, but generally for teaching or community projects and not their art directly.

    1. Hi Tina: I don’t believe supporting the arts is a necessity. Also, I’m referring to the support that many government entities give for promoting the arts and art centers, not direct payments to artists. Such programs do improve our societies, but I do not believe that it is reasonable to continue the same level of support in these times. When these programs are affordable, I do believe they are a good thing and am definitely in favor of them. I hope that clarifies things a bit.

    2. Ahhhh! Now I see where the confusion came in. I should have said “For those of us that create art, creating it is a necessity.” And buying art is not a necessity for the buyers.

  9. ah, my mistake, Misread it. 🙂 And yes, I agree.
    I suppose one good thing area of support here is that arts and drama in school, particularly elementary, is getting good support. Some good gov support for grants to schools for arts development and achievement. Of course here part of the national problem is that arts and sports fall under the same governmental budget section. So we’ve been kinda screwed by the Olympics. (though I believe young and working athletes deserve the support just as artists do) I’d love to see a progress report on how public arts institutions are doing, but I think it’s too soon since the last budget to know what the effect might be from the major cuts.

  10. I live in a small rural town in Atenas, Costa Rica. The municipality receives some funds from the national government for the arts and occasionally they receive a small grant from the Ministry of Culture for a specific event. I am a member of the local cultural committee where we try to offer free arts and cultural events in the town park. The local government will give us some funds for sound rentals and we depend on the generousity of donations from local businesses, but we operate on a very tight budget. We have to think out of the box and depend on artists (fine and performing) who are willing to participate for free or at a nominal fee. Our long term goal is to have a cultural center but we are so far from that goal that it is hard to believe that it will happen in my lifetime. Regarding Tina’s previous comment…it is a worldwide curse that the arts are always cut before the sports programs! Somehow we have to link the two so tightly that one cannot be accomplished without the other.

  11. Yes, Jan hit the nail on the head with: “depend on artists (fine and performing) who are willing to participate for free or at a nominal fee”…What we are seeing in Canada now are well meaning charities & non-profits & “gov’t projects on grants” who provide art to the public or for the public good, but the artists don’t get paid…This type of “support” is not really for the artists, though it is titled as such…

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