It happens over and over again. When times get hard and purse-strings get tight, it’s the arts that seem to be cut first. It’s times like this when artists are hit hard, loosing a good portion of our income to the economy. Even when times are looking a little better, we artists seem to be the last to feel the up-swing.
Art organizations usually meet once a month or so and offer critiques, demonstrations, workshops and friendly gatherings. They usually ask a yearly fee to cover the costs of advertising, mailing meeting reminders and cover art show costs. There are three such organizations in my area but each town is probably different. Check with your local Arts Council to find what organizations exist in your area. So why should we pay $45 or more per year to belong to an art organization? I can name a number of reasons.
11. We, of all people, need to continue to support the arts.
22. This type of organization encourages friendly competition through shows and therefore helps us get our work shown.
3. This friendly competition also encourages us to do our best and strive to get better at our craft.
4. Most art shows are juried and offer cash prizes, which are very nice for the struggling artist.
5. The meeting of like-minded artists all facing similar economic and art-related issues is healthy.
6. We help each other out through networking and bouncing ideas off each other.
7. Sometimes it helps to just get out and be with other artists.
8. Most organizations offer demonstrations of techniques that encourage artistic experimentation.
9. We learn from each other.
10.Some organizations (not all) offer signature membership earned by being in a number of art shows and winning awards. This coveted signature membership allows you to sign the society’s initials behind your name, showing that you have achieved a lofty stance in the art world.
I could probably think of more reasons but you get the point. In my area, since there are three such organizations, I choose just one. This organization is Society of Western Artists, San Joaquin Valley Chapter. Like many art organizations, SWA is having its fair share of economic-membership woes. The numbers have steadily dwindled since 2008 until this year we wonder if we can go on. I believe we will, but it will be difficult without the membership to get things done and offer two shows per year. I would encourage all artists to belong to some organization for their own artistic and creative health. It is so worth it.