On Saturday, January 30, 24 artists and artisans braved the threat of snow to attend the first Berkeley Arts Council “Business of Art” workshop.
A wide range of topics were discussed and the artists participated in a needs-assessment process that will suggest the direction of further workshops.
Ron DeWitt, the Artisan Services Director from Tamarack made the 5-hour trip from Beckley, WV to provide an overview of the Tamarack system, and tips and advice on pricing, marketing, and the development of a plan for an arts business. Ron made the point that even part-time artists need a plan to develop their market, present their work, and identify sales opportunities. On pricing, he noted that he had seen pricing calculations where the artist was making barely $2 per hour and concluded that the artist could not sustain his or her business at that level. Ron also discussed the process for artists and artisans to jury into Tamarack and said they were planning a jurying pre-screening session for Martinsburg some time in March. (Stay tuned for details when we get them.)
Ron also left the participants with a wide range of resource documents that included lists of galleries and other potential sales outlets, resources on business matters, and sources for a range of products and materials that artists and artisans can use to package, present, and market their work.
The second presentation of the morning was by Nancy McKeithen from The McKeithen Group, a design firm based in Harper’s Ferry. Nancy went over a variety of design principles for brochures, flyers, web sites and other promotional materials. She discussed factors in deciding whether an artist should try to do these kinds of things herself or whether she should work with a designer, and gave tips on how to work with a designer.
By lunchtime, the snow had arrived but almost all of the participants returned after lunch for the afternoon session.
Nancy McKeithen picked up after lunch with some great tips on marketing in general and then Rip Smith demonstrated some ideas on how to develop web sites without programming and at virtually no cost. Rip showed how to set up a blog site using WordPress.com and then showed some examples of marketing artwork on etsy.com. Both of those sites offer facilities for a web presence at no cost and are easy to set up.
Unfortunately, two of the afternoon presenters cancelled due to the weather so it was decided to shut down early so people could get home safely in the snow. The cancelled presentations will be worked into future events.
Rip Smith, who designed the program, said “I am thrilled that there was such a strong response to this initiative. We got some great feedback from the participants and their needs-assessment surveys will give us a road-map for future workshops and training. I have wanted to do this kind of thing for a while and with the foundation we laid today, I see a great program going forward.”