As mnartists.org works towards rebuilding our website in the coming year, we are also in an opportune position to refocus and reappraise how we, as an organization, can best serve artists. When my colleague, Scott Stulen, and I sat down to revisit our mission statement, we agreed benefiting artists will always be central to our mission. As we move forward with planning for the new site (new bells and whistles aside), Minnesota artists and their needs will remain core to our mission and our focus as an organization. No easy task, as artists needs vary depending on the stage they are in their career, their location, and have different needs associated with their discipline of focus.
So what is it that all artists need?
I can speculate; I’m an artist too. Let me introduce myself: I’m Jehra Patrick and I work as Project Coordinator for mnartists.org. I do everything from answering help-desk questions, to planning, promoting and managing our off-line programs like Drawing Club, CSA: Community Supported Art, MN Made, and mnartists.markerplace; I also assist in managing the McKnight Photo Fellowship for Photographers and work to direct artists and arts enthusiasts to the resources they need – online and otherwise. I am also a visual artist. I’m an artist who loves to support other artists. In thinking about what artists need, I can speculate as both an artist and as someone who supports artists and interacts with artists regularly. Here’s what I’ve got, but please feel free to chime in:
• Exposure Artists need their work to be seen; they need an audience, they need coverage and feedback
• Community Whether it’s camaraderie with other artists, support from their local community or a network of followers
• Resources Space to produce, the materials or expenses that make your work a reality and the time to make it
• Professional development Artists need a plan, a business strategy to market themselves as professionals; they need the tools meet their ambitions
All of these ‘needs’ vary – and may mean different things – depending on the artist’s stage in their career. The form that each of these needs takes also varies by the artist’s discipline of focus, and another thing: What artists want. What artists want depends on their own goals, which also vary depending on where they are in their career.
Back in 1999, McKnight Foundation issued a survey to gauge the needs of artists, out of which mnartists.org was developed. So how does mnartists.org continue assess artist’s needs? Over the next year, I will continue to reach out through topical blog posts to gauge varying needs of Minnesota artists and post to respond to these needs. While there will be more formal surveys, we also welcome candid feedback and encourage you to respond! We want to hear from you!
What do artists need? What do you need as an artist? What do you need to continue to produce your work? To make a living? To take your work to ‘the next stage’?
Also, how do artists’ needs differ based on what you have? What is already available to you? What is missing?