September 2, 2009 | Alyson Stanfield

Artist Salons: 6 Elements for a Thriving Group, Part 2

I'm continuing my advice for artist salons, which I started in Monday’s Art Biz Coach newsletter and podcast. The first three elements for thriving groups are here. Today, I'll look at three final things to consider for your artist salon.

Miami art-marketing salon leader Debra Cortese talks at an exhibit opening of member art.
Miami art-marketing salon organizer Debra Cortese talks at an exhibit opening of member art. Photo by Rosie Brown.

4. Location

Dedicate a place for your salon meetings. The best locations are your home, studio, or gallery (after hours). Public places aren’t conducive to open conversation and hanging out as long as you’d like. Some salons might last late into the night and you don’t want to feel pressured to cut short an energetic session.

You won't regret setting a single location. Having to decide on a meeting location each time would take up a lot of energy and wear you (the organizer) out. You need to save your energy for more important stuff like your art and your career.

5. Regularity

A salon should meet with frequency and consistency. I prefer more frequent contact than monthly sessions, but most people can’t commit to anything more often than once a month. Stick with a day (say, the second Tuesday) so that you aren’t constantly asking members to pull out their calendars to agree on a date. You, as organizer, should set the day before asking others to join.

6. Conversation

Ah, yes, what will you talk about? If you are running an Art Biz Connection marketing salon, you have your agenda planned out for you. Otherwise . . .

Be loose with any guidelines. In the suggested Vision under #2, note that I wrote “stimulating conversations about art and life.” That’s because life informs your art. Let your discussion wander and trust that salon members will always bring it back to art.

To kick off an evening’s exchange, you might select a topic or delegate this task to a different salon member each time. Alternatively, it could be the responsibility of each member to bring a conversation-starter on a slip of paper. Those could be drawn from a bowl or rewritten on a white board to be returned to when it’s time to move the session along. Without some sort of structure, a salon could decay into just another social event.

5 comments add a comment
  • We’ve been continuing our Art Salon past finishing the marketing plan agendas. Points 5 and 6 affirm what we have planned to do. Having held our original 9 meetings in one location at the studio of the most central member, we are now rotating through the homes/studios of the other 4 members for the next four meeting, returning to our original location for the 5th. I passed the suggestion of inviting another artist to the group as that sounds like it would serve to expand the scope of our discussion.

  • Terry: I know you all have been very successful with your Santa Cruz salon. Congratulations on supporting each other so fully!

  • I started something similar amongst my artist friends. We titled it “The Art Thing”. How do you suggest keeping attendance regular? It sort of petered out due to a lack of commitment.

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  • […] Artist Salons: 6 Elements for a Thriving Group (Part 1) Any artist can start a group, but how can you ensure it will thrive? How can you make it worth the members’ time? Also read: Part 2. […]

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