Former Speaker of the House Thomas O’Neill, Jr., coined the phrase that “all politics is local.” The same sentiment applies to the art world. A creative’s location greatly impacts opportunity, inspiration, and innovation. I witnessed this first hand in my career and in others. Artists that “succeed” are normally involved locally and not necessarily defined by money but a drive to improve community.
Frequently artists dream of being “discovered” resulting in all financial problems disappearing. Unfortunately, most unsolicited opportunities include having to pay a fee to exhibit or be included in a publication that is “prestigious.” Most of these so-called “big breaks” arrive to a large number of undisclosed recipients. The artist isn’t special or unique. A smaller bank account is the award via a predator behind a computer screen.
As a result, I encourage artists to spend their dollars locally. Instead of falling for baseless scams, what if creatives banded together and made a pledge to invest in institutions that directly affect their neighborhood? Then artists wouldn’t have to look outside to unfamiliar territories to build resumes or gain “experience.” This would strengthen existing organizations with proven track records by supporting their existence.
The Richmond Art Center, Berkeley Art Center, and Pro Arts Gallery are three examples of trustworthy institutions that have consistently and truthfully supported the arts. Each one offers exhibition opportunities, intelligent programming, artist talks, community building, and much more for a nominal membership fee. A fraction of the cost compared to the overwhelming vanity tricks that spam an artist’s email inbox daily.
Here’s the proof and one example: currently on display at the Richmond Art Center is the Annual Members Show till August 22nd. Take a look at the highlights:
Money talks but can have a stronger, louder, and more powerful voice when collectively put together to support a positive good. Thinking locally can spread globally. Working together to respect communities can transcend borders. Attention: artists, galleries, patrons, and art lovers! Let’s take the little money we have and send a clear message to scammers: no more!