Support for Artists: Resources to Assist the Art Community
By Genie Davis
In the current art scene, many artists are creating their own opportunities for exhibition, sales, portfolio reviews, and curatorial projects. With that in mind, they are also seeking out services by experts who know PR, organization, curatorial, how to apply for calls, provide grant writing support, and more.
At this moment, of course, they are looking for support through the COVID-19 crisis, but while many of these organizations can direct artists toward help, and provide a wide range of growing online opportunities, this article is focused on the general resources to assist artists and the art community in both good times and unexpected times.
Heidi Johnson at Hijinx PR
Hijinx Arts offers a wide arrange of services specifically catered to the needs of artists. According to Johnson “For traditional studio practice artists, we raise awareness of their work through traditional outreach to galleries, advisors, curators, and art media, as well as public awareness through robust social media campaigns. For artists with a current online presence looking to create commerce for their work, we work to build an online sales platform or collaborate with existing services. We promote through social media and traditional PR.” She adds that Hijinx Arts works with major players to bring artists to a commercial market through gallery shows, public arts, licensing, and corporate opportunities. “We look at your art practice as a business and we want to be an integral part of your team,” she relates.
For galleries and pop-ups Hijinx offers full service event coordination and traditional PR, sponsorship outreach, list management, email marketing and social media campaigns. “Our experience with Arts & Culture events makes us a go-to company when investing in your show,” she says. “Currently, we are offering full package services and al carte services including, PR, marketing, email marketing, social media management, consulting, and event management.”
Asked if she feels there’s more of a need now than ever, she notes “Yes, many are reeling right now and need help focusing on next steps. Online has been the future for 15+ years, the time was yesterday but it’s not too late, it’s just time.”
She believes strongly that “Galleries and artists need to get it together online. The future is uncertain for traditional means. Even our past ways online are becoming obsolete. It’s important to keep yourself up to date on current trends and opportunities. We can do that for you. We can guide you through the new normal to create a real presence online and beyond.”
Allison Wyper – Rhizomatic Arts
Wyper says “the motto of Rhizomatic Arts is ‘Work independently, not alone.’
I support artists by providing professional development coaching and workshops, services such as website and newsletter design, and opportunities to grow your network and engage in collaborative exchange with other artists. I have coached artists on writing artist statements, helped them fill out grant applications, and redesigned their websites to better suit their needs.”
She offers web design, too, noting “My approach to web design is holistic and collaborative, meaning that the design process involves thinking together about how you’re presenting your work through images, words, and calls-to-action. My clients learn how to manage their own website so that they have greater independence going forward.”
Additionally, she helps build community. “Rhizomatic Arts hangouts and performance labs bring artists together to share resources, build relationships, and support one another’s work.”
Linda Vallejo, A to Z Grantwriting Artist Workshop
Vallejo personally assists artists through the A to Z Grantwriting Artist Workshop, offering information and guidance for artists who want to write grant, residency, and fellowships proposals.
The workshop includes, Vallejo says information on “how to write an artist statement and create a budget – two of the most important elements, and ones that artists have trouble with. The artist grant proposal package contains all the items needed in an artist exhibition proposal package so the workshop gives artists a head-start in responding to exhibition opportunities as well. I’ve been teaching the course for the past five years around LA County in collaboration with a variety of non-profit arts organizations. I also provide one-on-one consultations for artists seeking to advance their careers through exhibitions, residencies, and press and social media campaigns.”
She adds that in terms of curatorial support, she assists artists and arts groups in curating and designing exhibitions. “I work with the artist and groups to write the exhibition statement, choose the most appropriate work, communicate with participating collaborative artist(s) as needed, make decisions on appropriate placement in the gallery, advise them on didactics and signage, and work with them to design printed exhibition and education materials. Exhibitions that are well-designed have a much better opportunity to be noticed by curators, critics, scholars, and press.”
As an artist herself, she relates “I understand the artist’s desire and need to advance their career, and having gone through many of the steps and processes myself, I am happy to offer guidance and support.”
Max Presneill, Torrance Art Museum
“I think there are several ways in which I, or better ‘we’, work towards supportive structures for artists, besides things like free workshops and keeping the door to my office open for advice and discussion…The Durden and Ray model of cooperative action, which I founded with Roni Feldman in 2009 and which continues growing from strength to strength, is a good one which shares the workload and retains agency for everyone who joins the group. Its ability to work together to develop and implement international exchanges is truly a wonder and a privilege for me to be part of due to the fantastic cooperation of all the members. I am a huge believer in DIY and artist-led initiatives, alternative spaces and groups. The more artists place the power in their own hands – to develop ideas and models, to self-organize and run their own projects and spaces, the better.”
The Torrance Art Museum (TAM) hosts free workshops to draw attention to the various ways this can be done. “We also host several programs that are very artist-centric as well as encourage a fuller participation in the curatorial process. Some of these are to do with asking artists what they want to show rather than asking for particular works. That kind of support for the primacy of their own relationship to their works, as well as trust in them to select, the institutional desire to see them fulfilled when they work with us, in what is representing them in an exhibition, remains an important way for us to partner with artists in building exhibitions and to act as a reminder that we are there to reflect their interests, not the other way around.”
TAM offers an annual exhibition called Co/Lab that invites 8 alternative spaces/artist-run initiatives from around the world, to partner with a similar space in LA and co-produce a presentation – all 8 partnerships with 16 participating spaces in the Main Gallery at the same time. This program he says “allows for the interactions of all of the artists and organizers to meet, socialize and work together. For 2020, we have invited spaces from UK, Turkey, South Korea, Mexico, Sweden, South Africa, Greece and Spain. It is a wild and chaotic endeavor but wonderful and surprising too! The best aspect for me though is that every time we do this project, further exchanges occur from it. The B-LA-Connect program with LA and Berlin came out of this, as did the LARP project in Rotterdam. These follow-on t independent projects – run by the artists and groups who took part in a Co/Lab in previous years, have increased the scope and the numbers and expended the participants and continue to do so, beyond the actual Co/Lab – which is exactly what we hoped for as an outcome.”
Presneill asserts “If we can facilitate the initial engagement between people, present an innovative and stimulating interaction and then see it continue to grow and provide opportunities then we are very happy indeed with the results.”
The FORUM Mentorship Project at TAM invites about 15-20 aspiring artists, curators, writers, gallerists and organizers, by open call, to apply for the free, 10- month long program, and work with TAM staff and prominent art professionals. This is an important project for the Museum. “For those selected we offer the chance to meet monthly with influential and experienced professionals to hear their stories and experiences and to really get to the reality of things through open discussion. It is an invaluable experience which also draws the cohort together through shared interests, collegial investigation and interactions. At the end of the program, we host an exhibition at TAM which is essentially self-driven by the group – the artists show works selected in cooperation with the curators, the writers write the didactics and for the catalog and website, the gallerists and organizers plan and carry out logistics and we encourage everyone to get their hands dirty and become active in all areas of the process.”
Presneill explains “A big part of this course is to show the value of self-help and peer group support structures as well as methods and models to move into the future, together, with ongoing peer activity beyond the program at TAM.”
Kristine Schomaker, Shoebox PR
“Since I started Shoebox PR 6 years ago, the art world has changed, and my ideas of the art world have changed. While I am the one educating my artists and introducing them to the art world, I am constantly learning, and shifting my perspective as far as questioning the artist’s role and place in the art world today. As an artist, I am on the front lines for working to figure these things out so I am able to offer valuable insight and perspective to the artists I work with.”
When Shoebox PR first started, the focus was on promotion and marketing. As the company has grown and evolved, it’s become more of a support network for artists. “We offer resources and tools to help artists navigate their own paths. There is not just one straight and narrow road to get gallery representation. The idea that gallery representation is the holy grail of your art career is dissolving. Artists are learning to find their own opportunities with more alternative spaces, pop-up shows, artist-centric art fairs, and especially Instagram and Facebook. I don’t see this changing. There are some wonderful galleries out there who are showing edgy, important work, but they are limited. There are many more artists than there are galleries.”
Schomaker believes that community is integral to sustaining a career and thriving in the arts. “I believe, Today more than ever, community is THE holy grail of the art world. Whether it is joining a collective, art organization or member gallery, forming your own artist support group, or becoming a member of an online FB group, being part of a group of like-minded creatives, opens your world up to new possibilities, ideas and support that will help you grow and persevere as an artist.”
Shoebox PR is about community building and artist support. They offer monthly artist meet-up groups for their artists, studio visits, consultation, influencer introductions and event and social media marketing. Shoebox recently added a store to their website to help support their artists financially, plus they extended their services, adding more packages with a variety of price points. They also continue to offer free artist meet-up groups and open critiques, both online and in person.
Artwork Archive provides artists, collectors and organizations with a variety of
powerful tools to manage their artwork, career or collection, including an art inventory platform artists use to track their artwork, showcase their portfolio and grow their business.
Creative Capital provides an annual award that supports artists with up to $50,000 in project funding, advisory services, career advancement resources, and national networking opportunities valued at $50,000, for a total commitment of up to $100,000 per project. Along with the award, the company supports innovative artists through funding projects, consultation, gatherings, and career development series.
This organization supports artists by identifying what helps artists pursue their vision, and enabling communities to benefit from the arts in all aspects of life. Resources and tools within Artists Thrive help artists, arts organizations, and other groups that work with artists collaborate and craft meaningful stories about why art-making matters.
The organization’s initiative began in 2016 when a group of arts professionals and artists produced the first draft of this field-wide assessment rubric. Publicly launched in 2017, Artists Thrive is driven by a leadership team of artists and diverse collaborators from different sectors and communities nationwide. It’s supported by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.
Covid – Artist Support Resources
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Common Field – Covid Resources
Small Business Relief Programs
LA Weekly – Material and Financial Resources for Artists
Center for Cultural Innovation
Helen Frankenthaler and the Getty
23 Arts Groups giving away $5000 to 100 artists
Sara Blakely Is Giving $5 Million To Support Female-Run Small Businesses