Why we created Triangle ArtWorks.

TAW_square_tagHave you ever wondered why Triangle ArtWorks was created?  Why we need this new regional arts nonprofit?  Read on….

 

The State of the Arts in the Triangle:

We all know the situation.  The Triangle’s growth in the last 20 years has been exponential.  The Triangle’s arts community is strong, diverse and nationally recognized.  There are also lots of studies out there that show the HUGE economic impact of arts on the Triangle, but this is my current favorite.

Basically what this this slide says is that, when it comes to creative industries, the Triangle is killing it.

So, we can assume that the Triangle treats the creative industry, as a group, with the same respect and support of other industry segments…right?

Well, not exactly. While it is true that, as a region, we love our arts community. We have strong arts commissions and support organizations, grant programs, amazing festivals…all growing every year. But it is not enough. The Triangle has become a large thriving region and the arts are part of what makes it great.  Arts and creative industries are primarily small or micro businesses, sole proprietors or nonprofit organizations. Many struggle to make ends meet. They have specialized business needs and many tend not to think of themselves as a business group because they are so independent and unique.

Unlike other industry segments, such as health care,  lawyers or real estate, there was no central organization looking at the “big picture” for the arts community as a group in this Region.  There needed to be an easier way for these businesses to connect to resources that already exist and to each other. And there needed to be someone looking at  ways the community could work together to work better and more cost effectively.  Where there are gaps in resources, there needed to be someone to pull the necessary parties together to fill these gaps. And it needed to be easier to keep up with news, job openings, and political changes that may affect their work. Without a central source, it takes too much time. But perhaps most importantly, this industry needs a way to come together to advocate for things that affect their industry and a way for the arts community to be “at the table” in local and regional business efforts and to come together for advocacy.

This is not a new idea.  Other cities and regions that the Triangle competes with are ahead of us in this type of arts support.  Look at these organizations in PhiladelphiaSt. PaulMiamiAtlanta and Austin,  to see what type of work is being done, and financially supported, in other parts of the county.  These areas have separate arts councils that work on granting, community art projects and other programs on behalf of the City, but these organizations highlighted are directly serving their artist communities as business communities.

So we created Triangle ArtWorks.

What does Triangle Artworks do?

Triangle ArtWorks envisions an arts industry in the Triangle that is Recognized and Valued as a vital business segment and Supported with sufficient resources to continue to be strong, diverse and sustainable. We are creating a platform and network to connect and support this community. This infrastructure helps us act as a convener and work collaboratively to support this community more cost effectively. By making the arts industry stronger, we make the Triangle a better place to live and work.

PROGRAMS IMG_1590

Our programs, so far, include:

  • A robust website and social media presence.
  • ArtWorks Partners” – a growing network of organizations and businesses helping to expand the reach of our platform, as well as a broad-based Advisory Board.
  • A dynamic Triangle Emerging Arts Leaders group who come together at least once a month for networking, education or other events.
  • Work with UNC Law School and area economic and downtown development and arts leaders to create a Pop-Up Tool-Kit to facilitate engagement of empty commercial spaces for arts programs and events.
  • Ongoing work to convene regional theaters to discuss ways that industry can work together.
  • Work with partners to fill arts business educational voids, such as an art entrepreneurship boot camp and “Practicum” workshops on simple business issues.
  • Advisor, connector and convener between economic development and greater business communities and the arts community.
  • (To see a complete list of our work as of December 2013, see here.)

ADVOCACY

ArtWorks has created an online hub of resources and news and a social media presence which are becoming essential tools for this business community. But this platform has a broader purpose. The arts industry has a significant impact on the Triangle’s economy and quality of life. But the community is comprised largely of nonprofits, small businesses and sole proprietors, so is often overlooked as a business group and lacked a method to stay informed or to have a powerful voice in local or regional decision making efforts. Bringing them together, keeping them informed, and facilitating communication, empowers this community to work together to advocate for community needs and increases civic engagement. This is an innovative way to enable the arts to support themselves as an industry, with ArtWorks providing the glue to bring them together.

photoINNOVATION/COLLABORATION 

As the first organization of its kind in the State, ArtWorks is creating a totally innovative platform to support the arts in a cost-effective, collaborative way. Working cooperatively with local partners has allowed us to create programs that are already benefiting the Region, despite minimal funding and volunteer staff. Creating this collaborative central infrastructure will allow us to serve the arts community and the Triangle as a convener to get input on and address community needs, which will help the community thrive and adapt to challenges and opportunities. We work with current organizations and businesses to coordinate and streamline regional arts promotion, networking, education and other activities that support this economic segment. A stronger arts community is an important part of building a stronger Triangle Region.

HOW YOU CAN HELP –

We want you to be part of our Community!

So far, Triangle ArtWorks is operated entirely by volunteers.  We receive only limited private funding.  The fact that we have built this platform and network, and created these programs, with only limited support is a testament to our role as convener and our ability to work with partners across the Region to create needed programs for the Triangle.

But we have reached the capacity of our volunteer organization.  To be able to continue to serve this community, we need paid committed staff, as well as expertise to help us take this organization to the next level of financial and organizational sustainability.  We need the community’s help to do this.

Make a Donation.  If you need more information or want to set up a meeting, contact us.  Want to volunteer?  We need lots of help on both big and small projects.  Contact us!

Help us get the word out.  Invite us to speak in front of your group.  Host an ArtWorks creative meet-up.  We need to spread the word about the resources and programs we offer to the arts business community and the impact we are having on the Triangle.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply