How to get involved in your local art scene

Two years ago I moved to a new city and decided to get more involved with art locally. About a year ago I quit my regular day job at an attorney’s office, took a few months break, and decided to dive in the local art scene once the summer arrived. It turns out I had no idea what to do or where to begin, especially not having any previous event experience.

Let’s discuss few areas in which you can get involved.

Art shows and festivals

Fees for those are usually low unless it’s a bigger show. Usually, it’s under $50 for a vendor booth. Larger festivals are often juried to participate and charge higher booth fee (few hundred $). Be mindful - smaller shows, craft shows, or pop-up events gather crowd that is not shopping for fine art or expensive pieces, so be prepared to have a few small works that still are representing of what you do but on a smaller scale. I advise to have examples of larger pieces, so that attendees can see first hand what you are capable of. Same goes for events that are food and music driven, most likely they won’t bring many serious collectors, but you still may benefit by showing up and letting people know what you do, just make sure you weigh pros and cons.

Note: some events accept applications months in advance, so don’t be discouraged if you missed the deadline, most likely new application deadline for the next season will be approaching shortly. I even write on my monthly calendar to check on any events happening in near of far future.

Arts councils and other art organizations

Nearly every town has an organization that devotes its time to working with local artists. That can be a non-profit or a gallery that often posts calls for art. You can sign up to become a member for a low yearly fee ($20-$50) so you can take advantage of the resources they have to offer, they will notify you about upcoming development or show opportunities. As usual, attending those and showing support for your local fellow artists is great for networking!

Local shops

While showcasing your art at a coffee shop or a restaurant might not be your main end goal, this can be a great practice, especially if you have never exhibited your art before. You get to work with a venue, set up/ take down your exhibit, and most of the time the venues are not opposed to you having an opening night, where you can invite friends and patrons to view your art and ask you any questions.

Facebook and other social media

I know, I hate it too, but Facebook offers a calendar of your local events, and this is exactly how you can discover any new happenings around you. When you meet or see artists whose work you enjoy - give them a follow, show support, and stay in touch; they can be your window into your local art scene.

Volunteer

A lot of people get to know others by volunteering at an organization of personal interest, which is also a great way to get to know other like-minded people.

Benefits:

NETWORKING! Introvert? Welcome to the club, but when you keep seeing same people at the places you visit - you become more acquainted and your circle expands. Attending or participating in any of the events listed above is a great way to promote yourself, and even if no one buys anything immediately, there is a good chance they will reach out eventually. Also, being locally involved is a great way to meet other artists and expand your clientele by showing local residents that you exist and presenting what you have to offer. All of those can be great practice for engaging with collectors and working with venues. I was able to make great friends and fill up a whole page of my artist resume in the past year.

If you have any questions on applying to galleries and prepping your CV letter or artist statement, refer to this article (and many others) put together by Kat and Alicia from Create! magazine.

Hope this helps,
Svitlana M.

Opening reception of my solo exhibition, Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Lansing, MI, USA.

Opening reception of my solo exhibition, Arts Council of Greater Lansing, Lansing, MI, USA.