I recently went to a "brainstorming session" in my community to talk about a $100,000 grant that will be given to one or multiple 501c groups to promote art, culture, and community as it pertains to art and culture. I left disappointed. Now to be fair, I didn't have a whole lot to say, I generally need time to mull things over and chat with one or two people I know well before I say a whole lot in a group of strangers, but I was disappointed none the less.
Basically, many in the room like the idea of an event or festival, combining various things-- visits to artists studios, displaying art on the walls of buildings you might not expect, multi-cultural performances, theatrical performances, classes, an app to help people find where all the art in the community "is". Here's the thing about all of that: If people want to promote art & culture in the community, and have an event centered around the traditional view of art (whether that be visual or performance based), the only people you will attract will be those who already have an interest in traditional forms of art! And really in this community, there is Artsfest, which does many of those things.
I think the really great thing about this grant is that it (seems to me at least) wants to reach farther into the community, to people who might not otherwise go to something "art" labeled. So it would be great to broaden this community's understanding of art.
I am a dressmaker, fashion designer, artist. However, when in a traditional arts crowd, I genrally call myself a "seamstress and fiber artist." Why? A dressmaker/fashion designer cannot check a box on a form that looks like this:
This also means I don't do many "traditional" artist things, like show my work in a gallery or competition. That is fine with me, but I do start to resent the fact that what is considered acceptable, cultured art in Centre County needs to hang on a wall or be displayed on a pedestal or stage.
Think of all the art that surrounds us everyday; art that people (who say they have no interest in art), actually really do love... not only beautiful and interesting clothes, as I alluded to, but also, creative haircuts, floral arrangements, make up, nail art, custom motorcycles and cars, TATTOOS!!! Really who could not consider a tattoo artist a true artist? People love the art so much that they don't hang it on their walls for display in their home. Instead, they have the art permanently engraved in their skin for all time. For the love of holy art! I think a plastic surgeon could probably remove it, although I'd call that person an artist as well.
So really, I think if the goal of this grant is to reach out into the community and bring it together around art, we as 501c groups, community groups and artists, need to reach into the farthest reaches of our minds and creativity and consider what else and where else art really is. And, FWIW, I'd totally come to a celebration of tattoo artists' work!
I'm Denise Meyer, apparel designer in State College, PA, saving the world one clothing problem at a time!