Like a lot of people, artists fall on hard times and have to change jobs. The other day, sitting around sharing ideas on how to survive in the art world with a few artist friends, we got into a discussion on donating art as a way to get one’s name out there. Sometimes this works, but most time the artist is just spinning their wheels as far as advancing their career with this idea of donating art.
I sat in on a meeting of people who were put together by the city to sell it’s dying downtown. They decided the way to go was turn the downtown into a culture and entertainment center. That idea worked for the city, but those artists that partook in the venture are still right where they were with their art careers before. Helping one’s hometown is a good thing. The problem comes when the artist counts on these ventures to move their careers along.
I donated a painting to a group raising money to help the homeless. I did not ask questions about how donating was going to help the homeless. It raised $10 through a silent auction. The frame, canvas, and paints cost around $500. The person who won the painting with their bid always asks me when I will be donating another painting somewhere. They never visit my gallery or come to any of my open studio events. Now whenever I’m asked to donate a painting, I consider if it is a cause I truly believe in, and then I just give them money.
At the two city meetings I attended, those representing the city stated these events were not to help the artist or even about selling art – it was about selling the empty buildings. Since then I have run into other art events in which the soul purpose was to sell buildings and each time nothing was done to really help the artists. Invest in your community if you can, but don’t expect it to advance your career.
Alway ask questions about opportunities people offer you.