I really enjoy asking people questions. Give me a patient interesting person, a few hours and the liberty to ask whatever I want and I am 4 steps away from total happiness. Likewise topics that touch on the arts, local economies and entrepreneurialism are key themes to my work and never cease to be fascinating.
Needless to say when I was approached by Erin Wilson from The Wealthy Theater/ ArtPeers to moderate a panel titled “Good Business is the Best Art” I was pretty geeked…
I was given liberty to touch up some of the proposed questions and whal-ah-whal-ah got to lay down some pretty interesting ideas with some GR creative movers and shakers. At times the conversation seemed to be preaching to the converted, the audience and panelists seemed to be on the same wave length.
Frankly, i felt the dividing line came down to those artists whose work is service/ performance based and those who create object or ephemeral fine art. The revolution of the creative class in Grand Rapids will not come down to billable hours but perhaps the beginning of a shift is how GR creatives recognize their worth and measure it not just locally but regionally and nationally. Artists on both sides of the coin, service and object based producers should recognize that due to a poor local market the sphere for sales is certainly not centered in a West Michigan market. Therefore sales, goods and services may have to be exported to render greater income value to those who produce them. With sites like Etsy up and storming, along with the capability of individuals to produce, distribute and book music performances more becoming pervasive i think that hope is on the horizon.
Finally, I think that there is one final issue that never gets touched in conversations about the arts and business.
You have to be good.
At both creating and marketing your work. There must be an equal partnership between your skill level as an artist and your savvy as a business person. And both of these skills can be learned and taught but it is with extreme dedication that they begin to transform personal economic platforms. I believe that the new economic model is that an artist must always be their best sales person, they must view the creation and distribution of their work as well…. work. Each and every time I have the opportunity to talk about and listen to artists compare and contrast ideas around the issues of art and economics it helps me to resolve my own ideas on the topic….
So special thanks to CMC, Rapid Growth and ArtPeers.