Indiana artists have felt the financial pressure over the past 18 months. Performance venues have been closed, exhibits and conferences have been canceled, and time off and layoffs have been required to keep businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Indiana University Arts and Humanities Council and the Center for Rural Engagement wanted to support these artists, especially from rural communities. The solution was a collaboration with the Indiana Arts Commission to offer a three-day workshop to teach emerging artists practical business skills. The works of these artists will be presented in the Artists at Work exhibition at the Gayle Karch Cook Center for Public Arts and Humanities from September 22 to October 23.
The Cook Center exhibit is an eclectic mix of creative works that showcases the thriving cultural and artistic environment in Indiana and strengthens UI’s bond with the community. Emerging artists were part of the On-Ramp Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator program, which provided them with tools to help them start their professional careers.
âThis program has a strong focus on reaching communities across Indiana and helping artists become more sustainable and resilient,â said Gerard Pannekoek, program and operations coordinator for the Arts Council and humanities.
The workshop brought together musicians, filmmakers, carpenters, painters, photographers, metalworkers and other new independent artists at the Cook Center to learn from established artists who have dug into business practices to help these emerging artists. to achieve their career goals.
Lisa Dodson of Lisa Loves to Quilt LLC, who creates quilts for exhibitions and sales, has found help in areas such as grant writing, LLC formation, art pricing and creating a budget with the program.
âThe pandemic has stopped everything and changed the way business is done,â she said. “The On-Ramp program was the boost I needed to find inspiration and deal with the changes caused by the pandemic.”
Artist Zach Roy, a green cabinet maker who does functional art in the form of wooden utensils and other household items, wanted to learn new skills and network with other artists.
âOn-Ramp really opened up my worldview to the possibilities available to working artists,â Roy said. âI was blown away that people were facing the same challenges as I did, and we got to hear from other artists who had already been there in their own careers and moved beyond that. Information transfer, of wisdom and experience was simply priceless. “
The workshop brought together participants from across the state, including artists from rural communities like Orange, Brown and Washington counties.
âWe want to link university resources to rural communities and reach out to independent artists who may not be connected to their regional network,â said Adrian Starnes, site quality liaison for the Center for Rural Engagement. “Partnering to deliver the On-Ramp program helps us build on our goals of developing and sustaining the cultural identities of rural Indiana and improving the lives of Hoosiers.”
The On-Ramp program was a first for the Cook Center and the Arts and Humanities Council, but Starnes and Pannekoek are already looking to the future.
âThe Cook Center is a very welcoming space which has been beautifully renovated with the aim of fostering and encouraging reflection on the arts and humanities,â said Pannekoek. “We have never held a workshop like this in this space before and we are really excited about what is possible in the future.”
âWe are already thinking beyond this year and what we can do to continue this momentum and the network created by the program,â said Starnes.