There are so many things the Savannah arts community needs to help it mature into the thriving creative mecca it wants to be and can be.
But like a stubborn teenager, the Savannah arts scene sometimes suffers from an obstinate refusal to simply do things the way they're supposed to be done. There's too much lack of professionalism (sadly, that applies to more than the arts), lack of follow through and lack of consistency.
What's needed is a little adult supervision. Enter the Arts Resource Collective Winter Workshop Series.
ARC is a local nonprofit founded a number of years ago by some of Savannah's most accomplished artists and arts administrators. Their membership is a who's who of the Savannah art scene and they kicked off the series Jan. 22 with “Copyright Basics for Artists and Art Collectors.” The talk was presented by Christen Higgins Clougherty, a founding member of ARC who also serves as fine arts faculty at Savannah State University.
Clougherty explains that the idea for the winter series came out of a similar series of talks ARC presented about five years ago.
“We did this when ARC first started back in 2013,” says Clougherty. “It came out of listening to artists from our first sessions and what people wanted and this is one of the things they recommended. So we just revised the idea, and our plan is to consistently offer it.”
She says the Jan. 22 talk was well attended and well received.
“It became a very wonderful, lively discussion,” says Clougherty. “People were sharing experiences that they had had professionally, especially those that had more experiences than others, so it focused around the nuances of what people wanted to know. It was productive and was well received.”
The next presentation in the series will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 6 and will revolve around artist representation. The talk, “Artist Representation: Understanding How to Seek Representation,” will involve a conversation between Susan Laney, director of Laney Contemporary Fine Art, and Rachel Reese, curator of modern and contemporary art at Telfair Museums.
“Rachel and I talk a lot about Savannah and how we can play a helpful part in what's happening here,” says Laney. “We had already spoken about doing something about professional practices and gallery representation, because the question comes up a good bit, so this idea really was community driven in my opinion.”
“I think it's an opportunity to pull on both of our experiences and try and be useful to the arts community where we can,” says Reese. “The level of professional resources or development that's available to your average artist in this community is sometimes not even understanding professional etiquette ... What I'm going to try and do is pull from a sort of basic packet of knowledge that we can talk about and then we'll hone in on our specific experiences.”
The subsequent presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 19 and will be hosted by Amy Paige Condon, former editor of Savannah Magazine and founder of The Refinery Writing Studio. Condon will present “Building Your Media Presence: Inside Tips for Artists,” which is another Art 101-type talk that could benefit both established and beginning artists of all stripes.
“I get a lot of people who come to me and ask, 'Hey, can you help me write an artist statement?' or 'Can you help me update my website?'” says Condon. “Can you do this, that and the other? Or 'Why don't you write a story on me?' I don't mind a pitch, but there's a way of doing it. Because just as you have a craft, I have a craft. And just as you have a reputation, I have a reputation. And I don't mean that in a snotty way in any way, shape or form, it's just that ... there's a way of doing it.”
Public art commissions
The final talk in the series at 6 p.m. March 5 will be presented by artist Jerome Meadows. “Public Art Commissions: Learn About the Process from One Artist's Journey” should be an engaging and informative presentation from an artist who knows his way around an RFP. Some of what Meadows will address will include the RFP versus an RFQ (request for proposal vs. request for quote), possible options to fund a public art project and how the selection process is handled.
For the highly qualified, some of these subjects may seem basic, but they are all vitally important for the functioning of a healthy arts community, and it seems that all creative types could benefit in some way or other from these sessions.
“In Savannah, we have a lot of art educated artists. We also have a lot of self-taught artists,” says Reese. “We have a kind of interesting hybrid. But I would say, across the board, people aren't being taught this stuff one way or another, so opportunities like this are golden. It's not just Savannah. These are problems that plague the art world and artist communities all over the country ... It's everyone in a smaller community that plays a role in the arts and understanding its economy and ecosystem.”
And as Condon explains, the creative community in Savannah is a microcosm that benefits everyone by being more connected. That means not just visual artists, but also writers, musicians, and other creative careerists.
“The most important thing I think that has to happen is we have to create a community that is supportive of one another and this is one way of doing it,” says Condon.
Kristopher Monroe is a writer documenting the intersection of art and community. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @savartscene.