Connections are important in every facet of life – particularly in business. It’s true that who you know is oftentimes more important than what you know.
This sentiment also applies to the arts, which are a thriving, economically valuable business in their own right in this community. But how to make these connections is a central sticking point for so many in the arts.
Many people don’t feel comfortable walking in to galleries or artists’ spaces because they don’t know the artists. They get hung up on who they think they are going to meet and miss the opportunity to make a real connection with a person whose business happens to be art.
People don’t attend the symphony, opera, ballet, theater, concerts and many other events because they think they won’t like it. They believe they know what is in store for them, and they miss the opportunity to have a transformative live experience.
On the flip side, artists often don’t approach curators or business owners who sell art because they think their work will be rejected. Performers don’t actively invite new acquaintances to their events because they don’t seem like “typical” audience members.
What we are left with is a failure to make meaningful, reciprocal connections, and everyone is the poorer for it.
For quite some time, I have been talking with people who happily sell art in their non-art businesses; they are having a difficult time finding artists whose work they can hang and sell. Artists often tell me they need more space to showcase and sell their art. What’s missing here is the connection.
But there’s an easy fix.
The Arts Partnership is hosting a meeting with curators and artists at 4:30 p.m. on April 7 at the Hotel Donaldson so they can meet, talk about their needs, show their work and make connections. If you are someone who lives on either side of this relationship, plan to join us.
It sounds simple, but forming connections takes time, intentionality and bravery. It’s hard to hear no; it’s scary to put your work out there for evaluation; it’s difficult to tell an artist you are not interested.
But connections go deeper than that.
Many businesses are overwhelmed with the number of requests they receive from the non-profit world, a portion of which are arts organizations.
The arts community has yet to successfully prove to the business community that this is not a philanthropic ask; this is an investment in the well-being of the entire community, both from an economic and quality of life standpoint. Plain and simple, investing in the arts means businesses have an easier time attracting and retaining excellent employees, and arts-filled communities are draws for new business.
I may be beating on a somewhat repetitive drum here, but I will continue to pound away until it is abundantly clear that these connections have long-term, positive ramifications to the success and growth of this community.
When artists are connected to galleries and shops that show and sell their work, they can support themselves through their art. When galleries and shops have more people looking at and purchasing high-quality art, they can better support themselves. When performing ensembles have excited audiences coming to their performances, they can better support themselves.
When audiences attend these events, take a class or perform with a local arts group, they can talk about the amazing arts and culture in their everyday conversations. They can ensure their children are living in an artistically rich community, and they can experience the emotional and psychological benefit that the arts bring to those who take the time to experience them.
When businesses invest in the arts and culture, they are ensuring their own success as more and more employees and businesses come and stay in the community because of the wonderful culture that they are afforded.
Do you see how these connections grow and lead to the success of every entity of a community?
In the arts, we often use the expression, “A rising tide lifts all boats” when we are working to be collaborative with each other. But the more significant tide is the larger community’s connection to the arts.
If that tide rolls in, each boat – be it industry, technology, academia, agriculture, small businesses, the creative market – the entire economy will rise and be strengthened when the arts are connected meaningfully to the rest of the community.
Dayna Del Val, executive director of The Arts Partnership, writes a monthly column for Variety. For more information on the arts, go to http://theartspartnership.net.