I recently created a survey through Survey Monkey and sent it to my Facebook friends who are not involved in the arts and do not live in my town. The purpose was to get a sense of how connected people who don’t work in the arts are with the arts in their communities.
One question that I struggle with is how do artists who don’t teach but aren’t at a professional stage of their career – make it in the real world? Residencies are a fantastic place for them to go to focus on their work but what happens when the residency is over? At HUB-BUB, we aim to connect artists with people in our community who may be able to provide them with a work opportunity when the residency ends. Collaborations with schools, colleges, non-profits, and businesses have led to jobs. There’s a social element to our residency – artists must work up to 20 hours a week for us and some of that time is spent carrying on conversations at cocktail parties and bookclubs. While this idea may make some artists cringe; our residents have made valuable connections/friendships in these scenarios. Valuable in that it has led to reduced rent on post-residency housing for some, created new donors/supporters for our organization, and forged friendships in unsuspected places. So what are some other ways to integrate artists into our communities? On the little survey that I sent out, the popular answer to “Is there a way that artists (musicians, visual artists, etc.) could work with your business to make it a more interesting place to work? If so, how?” Most answered that original artwork on the walls would be nice. Or artists could help pick out paint colors. But what about local musicians playing when a caller is put on hold? Or live concerts/performances in staff dining halls? Or artist workshops for employees to help them think differently? (And gain an appreciation for the arts). Can the left brain and the right brain work together? How can a broadened sense of collaboration with the arts benefit everyone? Ideas?