10 Ways Creatives Can Get Involved in Their Community and Why It’s Important
Guest Post written by Stephanie Hazzard, Exhibition Manager – Anton Art Center, Mount Clemens, Mi
There is something special about sharing art with others. Whether your interest is in dance, poetry, architecture, ceramics, music, film, cuisine, poetry, photography, theatre, prose, painting, design, or a mixture of creative expressions, art is an important tool. Supporting the arts benefits everyone and there are many great ways to get involved.
The arts and creatives need each other to thrive. As an artist, you are a key advocate for the role of art in our society. Making art takes time, practice, and diligence, and sharing your work has its own unique set of challenges.
You may feel apprehensive to shift focus away from your work at times, but complementing studio time with arts and culture and community activities can be a refreshing break and could help to invigorate your art practice. By making time for auxiliary experiences, creatives gain experience, grow their social and professional networks, exercise good mental and physical health, build careers, inspire others, and help promote the impact of arts and culture in the world.
Together, we create. Arts professionals work to engage the community with quality arts experiences through exhibits, performances, education, and other valuable programming—and need participation from others.
Community partnership enhances audience and relationship development. Here are ten ways to take part in the arts:
1. Attend events
Exhibit receptions, performances, poetry readings, artist talks,special lectures, and other events are typically free and open to the public at art galleries (and refreshments are often provided, so invite your friends). Attending events are a great way to get familiarized with the arts community and strengthen your network. Make a point to introduce yourself to staff, visitors, and other artists. Don’t forget to leave a comment or follow up with questions—organizers appreciate feedback, donations, and likes, if you’re so inclined, friend.
2. Take classes and tours
Arts education is for everyone. No matter your age or skill level, making art supports mental and physical health. Art classes provide developmental benefits in motor skills, language development, decision making, visual learning, inventiveness, cultural awareness, and more. Art is interdisciplinary, after all.
3. Purchase art
No matter your personal taste in art, owning and gifting original artwork or events makes people happy and enriches our lives. Handmade items are enjoyable and appreciated. Consider how you could build an affordable art collection, big or small, as a form of self-expression. Be an art ally by buying art, attending shows, and campaign for creatives, like yourself.
Offering your time is valuable to your community, your health, as well as your resume, as you can decide who to approach based on your interests. Volunteering helps in combating depression, counteracts the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety, increases self-confidence, and provides a sense of accomplishment all while building social networks. Volunteer work can vary from helping with a special event to serving on aplanning committee or board of trustees. The unique life experiences you bring to the table can really make a difference, and your service can go a long way to supplement your art practice. Plus, you never know who you might meet.
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5. Join a group or collaborate
An artist group can be an organized society, club, or association, or more simply a group of fellow creatives. The purpose of acollaborative or professional group is to meet other artists, build community relationships, learn new skills, or to encourage art making. Some larger groups may offer incentives such as special lectures, classes, demonstrations, or critique sessions to their members. Ask to sit in on a group meeting or meet with a leader or member to learn more about how to participate in a group, or discuss exploring different ways to collaborate in the community.
6. Become a member or donor
Becoming a member of an arts organization is a great way to show your support and to be a part of the great things being provided to your community. Donations can be as simple as dropping in a dollar or so each time you visit a nonprofit business that relies on support from donors and grants to continue operations. Free admission and events are made possible by donors, like you. Give a gift today and support the arts!
7. Apply to call for entries and residencies
Actively seek out and apply to opportunities, such as exhibitions and residencies. Opportunities are posted and shared regularly on arts and culture websites, social media, newsletters, artist groups, and more. Find the opportunities that interest you most and give it a try. Juried calls can be competitive, but rewarding. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance.
8. Submit a portfolio or proposal
Artists may want to consider submitting a portfolio or proposal to a gallery. Be sure to think about presentation: take clear photos of your work that are true to life in color and include details such as artwork title, size, year, and materials. If you’re not sure where to start, check online or ask. Art galleries have submission procedures and some may even have a handy guide available.
9. Develop a website
Websites are about professional visibility. Develop your digital presence by maintaining an artist website to showcase your work, along with any written materials, links, and contact information. Designing a website can sound intimidating, but there are resources out there that can make it fairly user-friendlywith a little practice. You do not need to launch a brand, necessarily; an artist website is an online portfolio and should be easy to navigate.
10. Connect and interact online
Social media can be a useful tool to learn, share, and connect. If you share photos or video of work by other creatives, be sure to credit them in your post, just as you would credit an author for their writing. Crediting your sources is generally good practice when sharing written or visual information. Also, consider having your professional and personal pages separate, depending how social media plays a role in your life. Social media can help drive traffic to your website and should primarily serve as a support, not a replacement for your site.
Simply put: Getting involved brings opportunity and incites change. I landed my first job in the arts, fresh out of college, bycalling up a local art center to inquire about volunteer opportunities. By expressing my interest, I learned about an open position, applied, interviewed, and got hired. True story.
About Guest Expert: Stephanie Hazzard earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, with distinction, in Studio Art and Art History from Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan. She has served as the Exhibition Manager for the Anton Art Center of Mount Clemens since March of 2012, where she organizes exhibition and arts education programming and specializes in community outreach efforts, visual art curating and installation, social media administration, and digital and print media design. Stephanie volunteers for the National Organization for Women, SisterFriends Detroit, Scholastics Art & Writing Competition, and the Michigan Breastfeeding Network. She lives with her husband and son in Metro Detroit, Michigan.