Supporting arts in a time of need
28 February 2021
2020 came at everyone like a ton of bricks. We did not see it coming.
Sure we had heard of past pandemics in history books. We’d watched those movies where a disease wipes out most of the population and only a few survive against all the odds. But it always felt like it would not happen to us, in our lifetime. Just fiction movies, right?
But it did. 2020 came and will forever go down in history.
Suddenly social distancing, lockdown, unprecedented times, pandemic, COVID, quarantine, flattening the curve become everyday words.
As lockdown became a reality for us, tourism, hospitality, and the arts were just a few industries suddenly facing a challenge like never before. These industries literally closed over-night with no warning. Losing billions of dollars in lost revenue. Suddenly we were facing not only a global pandemic but an economic and mental health catastrophe never experienced in our lifetimes.
So it may seem strange to some that I made 2020 the year to move my arts practice from “hobbyist” to professional. But let me tell you why I did and why it was the next important step for me as an artist.
2020 presented a unique opportunity in the world. A chance to pivot and change the way we do things. I also re-evaluated myself as an artist and pivoted my path. I realised that while taking on commissions for friends and family was a great income source, it was not enough to satisfy me as an artist. I knew I had to step away from that and find my own unique voice and story. But how?
I knew for one, I had to start viewing my art practice as a business. This is the biggest mistake I witness in other artists. They undervalue themselves and don’t consider their art as a business. This can come through the deep-rooted sense that art is “just a nice to have”. Nothing could be further from the truth!
So in order to be successful in my business planning, I knew I needed the fundamentals like a strategy and website. But like all struggling artists, particularly in the midst of COVID, how would I fund this?
Supporting arts in a time of need
Then I heard about the Regional Arts Fund Relief Fund. This grant helps regional artists meet their immediate needs. I knew this would be the perfect fit for my arts practice. I was lucky to be awarded a grant to help fund a branding strategy session and development of my artist statement through an artist copywriter – Ali Strachan, purchase of photography equipment, membership to NAVA and the development of a portfolio website through Webstein.
The branding strategy sessions helped me define my brand, figure out who my target audience was, and understand my value proposition. Developing my website provided a platform to showcase my portfolio, artist bio and contact information while engaging my audience in my work.
With these fundamentals in place, it allowed me to create an agile, online business increasing my long-term viability. It has given me the confidence to pitch for gallery competitions and hopefully exhibitions in the near future. Already I have been selected as a gallery finalist in both the Foot Square and Petite Pieces group exhibitions. I have also started networking and collabrating with many local artworkers and artists, something I would usually shy away from.
I was also lucky enough to further leverage this grant by receiving a small funding boost from BEMAC by receiving a BEMAC Creative Booster Pack 2.0. I used this funding to create some artwork descriptions. I have always struggled to talk and describe my work in a clear and marketable way. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but what words? Drawing pretty pictures weren’t going to be enough! But now I have the skills and confidence to succinctly talk about my style and pieces. Being pitch-ready will open even more opportunities in the future!
Supporting arts in a time of need was critical to the industry. Not only for the artists themselves but the whole supply chain that leads up. Imagine a world without paintings, movies, music, books, fashion – what a bleak and miserable world that would be. And COVID is already miserable enough, let’s continue to support the industry that has helped many of us in lockdown get through the day!
I am grateful that these organisations were supporting arts in a time of need.
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