Posts Tagged ‘triangle arts organizations’

NC LEAP provides free legal help for small businesses

By Lauren Harkey


North Carolina Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (NC LEAP) is a nonprofit program that provides free business-related and transactionallegal services to business owners and entrepreneurs unable to afford legal counsel.  Through the generous donations of local businesses, area law firms, and through the work of over 300 volunteer attorneys, NC LEAP strives to give back to the community by helping small businesses thrive in our state.

For qualifying arts nonprofits and businesses, NC Leap volunteer attorney’s can assist with a full range of transactional legal services to low-wealth entrepreneurs including:

  • Legal counsel and advice in startng and organizing a new business;
  • Drafting and/or reviewing documents, including articles of organization, by-laws, contracts, leases, loan documents, franchise agreements and vendor agreements;
  • Assistance in negotiating contracts;
  • Legal advice regarding business permits and licenses, and other applicable laws and regulations;
  • Protection of intellectual property through copyright, patent (limited cases), and trademark;
  • Referral to community partners including micro-lenders, entrepreneurial training programs and technical assistance programs; and
  • Trainings and presentations on legal issues for small business owners.

NC LEAP also offers self-help fact sheets and workshops to help address your legal concerns. Specifically, NC Leap provides “Ounce of Prevention” fact sheets for the following subjects:

Business Structure
Human Resources
Trade Secrets

NC LEAP is an invaluable resource for our community and particularly for new or underfunded arts and creative businesses and nonprofit organizations.  Specifically, NC LEAP’s efforts focus on businesses in low-wealth communities who hire and train low wealth employees, entrepreneurs with less than 5 employees, and established nonprofit organizations.  If your business is interested in applying to become a client of NC LEAP, submit an application.  Have more questions?  Find the FAQ here.

Lauren Harkey is a 2nd year Law Student at UNC Law School.  Lauren is working with Triangle ArtWorks through the UNC Law School Pro Bono Program to help Triangle ArtWorks and other partners develop methods to bring more legal resources to the Triangle’s arts business community.  Look for more results from this work soon! 

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Revitalizing through Arts – Downtown Raleigh Alliance Annual Meeting Focuses on Arts

 Every year, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance hosts an Annual Meeting to highlight the latest accomplishments in downtown Raleigh development and rally the troops around a theme for another year of foreword movement.  This year’s event, “Revitalizing Through Arts” takes place on Wednesday, February 13, with networking starting at 5pm and dinner at 6pm. More info

This is always a fun event, with lots of surprises and a big crowd. However, this year, it is important that we in the arts industry need to make a point to attend, as the event will be “celebrating individuals, businesses, and organizations whose contributions are making significant impact on the revitalization of the city center”  Triangle ArtWorks and many Raleigh arts organizations are partnering with and being recognized by DRA on this event.

Why should you attend this event if you are an arts/creative based business in Raleigh?

1.  The speaker – Jason Schupbach is Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts and will be speaking on how arts work to improve communities and the people that live in them.  He has an amazing background working in arts and urban and economic development. It is always energizing and thought provoking to hear from a speaker who has a more national view, to gain ideas and strategies for our work here in the Triangle.

2.  Networking – This event will be heavily attended by business, economic development and arts leaders.  You simply need to be in that mix.

3.  Because the Arts as an Industry Matters/One – If Triangle ArtWorks is “about” anything, it is “about” the proposition that arts/creative businesses ARE real businesses. They are not niceties.  They are not hobbies.  The visual/performing arts and creative industies as an industry segment are the focus of our work.  In our opinion it is THE most important business segment in our region.  Not only do businesses in this segment make money, pay taxes and employ people like other businesses, but they create a ripple effect of economic impact out to other business AND they make this region a more vibrant and exciting place that people want to live and work and that companies want to relocate.

ArtWorks is working to assure that this community is supported like the strong business community it is.  But it is important that the community act like a strong business community too.  We need to get out and be seen, network with people from other business segments to create relationships and market our work and idea  and to get ideas how to work better.  Attending a major downtown business meeting, such as the DRA Annual meeting, is part of that.

4.  Because the Arts Industry Matters/Two – The DRA is recognizing the importance of our business community by making the arts the focus of this meeting.  They are celebrating us and recognizing us!  Lets show up on numbers and celebrate!

4.  We Get a Discount – Until January 30, if you use the word ARTS when you purchase your ticket and get $10.00 off.

So, join me and the rest of DRA’s partners in this event, on the evening of February 13.  Let’s celebrate the arts business!



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“Triangle Emerging Arts Leaders” Group Forming

Triangle ArtWorks is working with a Core Group of local arts leaders to create a Triangle Emerging Arts Leaders Group. The idea is to create a networking group of “young” arts administrators that will meet periodically for discussion and networking, with a goal of not only helping the Group’s members learn from each other and some discussion leaders, but also to facilitate collaboration between them and their organizations.

What is an Emerging Arts Leader?

This group is patterned, loosely, after the Emerging Leaders  program at Americans for the Arts, which limits their group membership this way: “The Emerging Leaders Network targets professionals who are 35 years of age or younger or who have less than five years of experience, but invites arts leaders from every age range to participate.” which is the definition that we will use for our Group.  There was a clear feeling among the Core Group that this should be only for arts administrators and not the general “arts community” so that the Group could tailor discussions to the issues facing the work of arts organizations specifically. (Got an idea for another Triangle-wide arts/design related networking group? ArtWorks is all about supporting regional networking, so talk to us!)


When is the first meeting?

The first meeting will take place on the “Fourth Friday” March 23rd at noon, at Shiki Sushi.  If you are a Emerging Arts Leader in the Triangle, come out to meet your peers, share ideas and have a great time with other current and future leaders of the cultural sector. Each gathering will have a discussion topic, and we will look to our Core Group and peers to facilitate conversations. The first meeting will be an informal meet and greet, and we’ll also have an open discussion about future topics, locations for gatherings, and what experiences members would like to get out of participating.

How can you participate?

If you fit the above definition of Triangle Emerging Arts Leader, send us an email and we will put you on the Group’s mailing list.  If you can come to the meeting on March 23rd, let us know so we can include you in the reservation!

See you there!

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These population demographics may surprise you….

What will our region's population look like in 10 years?

UPDATE!!  Mitch Silver will be presenting his “Understanding Trends – Planning for the Future” talk on August 14 at Fuquay-Varina Community Center (Click for More info).  

Mitch Silver, City of Raleigh’s Planning Director (and husband of ArtWorks awesome Board member, Mary Silver!) is currently traveling the country, talking about  what the results of the 2010 Census tell us. As President of the American Planning Association, Silver is mostly talking to city planners and economic development people around the Country. But the information is important for people in all business areas to know.

And the information in these talks will surprise you about what it tells us about changing families, changes in lifestyle trends and the aging of America.

Things such as:

  • By 2030, North Carolina will be the 7th largest State (and Silver suggests that we start to act like it).
  • Single households are increasing, while “traditional families” are decreasing.
  • The Hispanic population is expected to triple from 2008 to 2050 (Due to the birth of children, not immigration.)

If you run a business or arts organization, or if you are planning on starting a business, these are numbers you need to know.

How will future populations want to spend their free time?

Mitch has presented this talk to many groups locally, and I was lucky to see it for the first time at United Arts of Wake County’s “State of the Arts and Culture” event in Wake County” event at NCMA.   You can find online a summary of his talk that was part of the Chapel Hill 2020 process, you can watch the complete presentation that was part of Innovate Raleigh on Raleigh Television Network between now and February 26, or much of the information is immediately viewable here (the relevant statistics start around 35:00).  Although the summary is good, the presentations are better, as you get to hear Mitch’s comments on the trends and what he thinks they may mean.

The business or arts organization that is not aware of these trends and prepared to adapt their work accordingly, will likely suffer in the future.  Don’t be caught unaware. Get informed.





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Visual Art Exchange gets a larger space and expands programming..

If you are a visual artist and have never heard of Visual Art Exchange, then you are missing out on a great resource.  Not only does VAE now oversee SPARKcon, but they also provide tons of services for the visual arts community, such as the annual “Business of Being an Artist” seminars, as well as other programs.  They describe themselves as a “non-profit creativity incubator and gallery that supports and educates emerging, professional and student artists”

But if you HAVE heard of VAE, then you know what great work they do.  And now, with the recent relocation of their gallery to a new 4,080 sq. ft space at 309 W. Martin Street in the Warehouse District of Raleigh, they are able to do much more.

The Main Gallery.

This move has been well documented in the media (such as here, here and here) so we don’t have to go into all the background, but I think it is important to highlight what this move means in the way of additional services and opportunities for artists:

  • Doubles the size of the Exchange Gallery.  The Exchange Gallery can now feature 8 to 10 VAE artists every month.  Click here for info on how to apply.
  • Doubles the size of the Main Gallery, allowing VAE to expand the number of artists in their current schedule of 12-16 exhibitions a year.  More information here.
  • Adds a new experimental space called “The Cube“.  Previously, VAE had separate annexed space (without HVAC!) for experimental work and installations. The new space will allow for a year round schedule of exhibitions and more opportunities for artists who work in alternative mediums.  Artists are juried into this space.  Find more information here.
  • Provides room for a new Retail Incubator Program, that combines business education with exhibition.  VAE will feature and work with 5 artists (currently a potter, clothing designer, paper crafter, clock maker, and a painter) on exhibiting their work and expanding their education and experience as retail-minded artists. The exhibition space for the retail incubator artists is in the front corner of the gallery.  There will be a Call for Artists for the Retail Incubator Program in the Spring.
  • Tons more storage, adequate office space, and, finally, a meeting space, which will allow VAE to take better care of artwork, and have more room for volunteers and interns.

Bathroom art by Zachary Horn.

VAE was formed in 1980 and had its first space on Hargett Street, moving to its City Market location in 1996.  VAE’s new Martin Street space makes the west end of Martin Street in Raleigh a regional arts hub, given the proximity to 311 West Martin Street Galleries, the Contemporary Art Museum,Flanders Gallery, as well as creative businesses such as Designbox and the Curatory.

“One of the most exciting things for me” says Sarah Powers, Executive Director, “is to see artists who have supported us and exhibited at VAE for a long time come in and compliment the space. Their comments about how much we have grown and how this space and neighborhood is just right for VAE really mean a lot to me, as they have stuck by us for many different eras of VAE”.

How has VAE helped you as an artist?  What other local resources have you found helpful in your work?



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Scrap Exchange escapes from a soggy mess into new space….twice.

By Teri Saylor

Scrap Exchange's new space at 923 Franklin Street

Scrap Exchange is finally getting some return on the good Karma it has invested in the Durham community.  After an epic moving odyssey,  the creative re-use facility, is finally settled into a new home, which in time, could be permanent.

“We’ve been through hell,” said Executive Director Ann Woodard, sitting in a tiny, crowded office next to the huge concrete and steel space that will soon be converted into a spacious environment housing a gallery, retail store, and workshops.  She allows that the experience worked in the organization’s favor after all, and after two moves in 10 days, The Scrap Exchange is back in business.  This last move, which took place over the Memorial Day weekend was the third relocation in 10 days. Its new home is at 923 Franklin Street in Durham.

A grand re-opening is scheduled Saturday, June 4 and will feature 10 bands over 12 hours. The $10 ticket fees will support the Scrap Exchange and the Liberty Arts Foundry, also displaced when the building that housed both organizations was condemned.  In case you missed how this all began, look here.

The Scrap Exchange was founded in 1991 to establish a sustainable supply of high-quality, low-cost materials for artists, educators, parents, and other creative people. Successful and popular, the Scrap Exchange is 90 percent self-sufficient through earned income streams, Woodard said.

Woodard loves her new space.

“Our mission is to provide services and low cost resources to our community. We’re in the perfect neighborhood to do that here,” she said.  Parking is convenient. Space is plentiful. The Scrap Exchange now occupies 22,000 square feet.  Its former space was 13,000. When it is completely built out, it will include additional workshop space dedicated to sewing classes.  There will be room for the organization’s eBay sales operation to stage goods for sale and package them up for shipping to buyers.  The Scrap Exchange will continue its retail sales operation to the public and will have an art gallery as well as an artists’ marketplace.

In the midst of displacement, Woodward has found a silver lining.  “We’ve been planning to move to a larger space for a long time,” she said. “We started looking in 2005 and 2006.  We made a 28-page increased capacity plan, and we are surprised that we’ve manifested our plan so quickly.”  With increased space comes a higher investment, and The Scrap Exchange will be paying $30,000 more annually.  She hopes that her organization can buy the building outright in the future.

It’s clear the space was once a manufacturing facility.  The wide open spaces with brick walls and concrete floors are flanked by small offices where superintendents and managers once worked.  Staff and volunteers are working nearly around the clock to be ready for business on Saturday.  “I’m not looking for perfection. I’m just looking to be open,” Woodward said.

Teri Saylor is a freelance writer and photographer in Raleigh. Follow her tweets @terisaylor or contact her by email.

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If you value the arts, be an advocate now!

As I have mentioned before on this blog, and if you are at all paying attention to the news, you certainly know that this is a difficult year for the arts and culture community.  State, local and national budgets are low and there will be cuts.  So, all of us who care about the health of arts and culture in our community NEED to become advocates.   For more on this issue, read Byron Woods piece in the Indy, as well as the recent blog post by Karen Wells, Arts NC’s Executive Director.


If you want to learn more about how to be an advocate, Arts NC is having a three advocacy workshops  in the Triangle.

Raleigh: Tuesday, March 8, 12 noon, United Arts, 110 South Blount Street

Durham: Monday, March 14, 11:30 a.m, Durham Arts Council, 120 Morris Street, Monday

Chapel Hill: Monday, March 28, 2 p.m, Playmakers Repertory Company, Paul Green Theater, UNC-Chapel Hill

Come to these sessions, meet like-minded people in the Triangle and learn to fight for the Arts.

A second way to join in this fight, is to come to Arts Day 2011.  Organized by Arts NC, Arts Day is a two day event.  The big event takes place on April 12, when arts supporters from across the State gather at the NC Legislature to meet with their local delegates and tell them stories about the importance of the arts in their communities.  The day before, April 11, we gather at the NC Museum of Art to hear from Arts NC  and the NC Arts Council about the “state of the arts” and our “game plan”  and strategy for the next day.  There will also be a docent led tour at NCMA and a reception at ArtSpace, so there is lots of time for networking.  Last year was my first Arts Day and I it was a fun and rewarding experience.

Supporters of the arts and culture community in the Triangle have it easy, as we are right here in the home of the NC Legislature, unlike the many other delegations that will be driving in from across the State.  So, we need to turn out in large numbers to make sure our story is heard and that our arts and culture organizations are not taken for granted or deemed a “luxury” in the 2011 budget.

Here are the details:

If you care about arts and culture in the Triangle, I hope you can join me at both the Arts Advocacy workshops AND Arts Day 2011.


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Tough road ahead for creative community…how do we respond?

Creating money.

Tough road ahead for creative community…how do we respond?

If you have kept up with the news lately, you know that rumors are starting to fly about potential budget cuts for the arts and culture industry.  The House Republicans have proposed to cut all funding to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities, as well as get rid of the Center for Public Broadcasting (LA Times Article, summary of proposals)  Most recently, the new South Carolina governor proposed budget cuts that would eliminate that state’s Arts Council (Charleston City Paper article).  Although these are only proposals at this point, they are certainly an indication of tough times a-coming.

You may wonder how federal and state funding may affect your work?  Well, state and federal funding supports arts organizations, large and small, as well as individual artists. These organizations put on festivals and shows, coordinate arts in schools, run performance facilities, give grants to groups and individuals, and hold education and other support programs we all rely on.  The void that the loss or reduction of programming at these organizations would create would be felt in all disciplines and ripple through the entire creative community.

But what can we, as individuals, do?

Statewide action

At the state level, there is an organization already working to maintain support and funding from the NC General Assembly….Arts NC.  Karen Wells, Arts NC’s Executive Director, has a great entry on this topic on her blog.  I suggest you read the entire entry, but think these two quotes are worth including:

“Yes, Virginia, there are boogey men who are suggestion complete elimination of the NEA, NEH, and public radio and TV.  And in North Carolina, rumors are flying that the General Assembly is considering appointing a committee to consider elimination of all grant funding to all non-profit organizations.  If an undertow picks you up and you panic, you stand a much greater chance of drowning.  Swim parallel to the shore and you just might work your way out of the great downward sucking motion.  Urgency, friends, not panic. ”

“We can do one of two things.  We can roll over and stick our heads under the covers of “this will never happen” as we watch the dismantling of the non-profit arts sector, or we can enter the debate in wholesale numbers.  ARTS North Carolina needs you to leave the sidelines if you aren’t already in the game, and bring lots of your friends with you.  We must get ready quickly, very quickly, and be proactive in proposing the role of arts as an essential government service. “

Karen’s suggestions for action, at this point, are to join Arts NC and follow its listserv to help stay aware of what the NC legislature is doing, and to join your local delegation at Arts Day on April 11/12 to talk with your state legislators.  I went to Arts Day last year and not only was it great to meet with the legislators, but also to spend the day with arts supporters from across the state.  Arts NC does the legwork and makes it easy to participate.  Finally, Karen suggests that you write your state legislator and tell him or her why they should support the arts.  Arts NC has some great resources here.

Triangle region action

One of the reasons that Triangle ArtWorks was started was to provide a method for the community to keep up with issues that affected them as an economic group, and a simple way to disseminate information the community needed to respond to these issues.  The creative community is a strong economic force in this region.  It is time the community started working together to support itself, as other economic groups do.

To keep up with local political issues affecting the Triangle’s creative community, just follow ArtWorks on Facebook or Twitter.  We follow all local, statewide and national arts organizations and arts news sites and post relevant news. Should there be a call to action, we will let you know.

We also need to be developing relationships with our local government leaders, not just our state leaders.  Our local county commissioners and city councils members need to hear from us and know us.  Information from local people making an impact on the economy in their county or city is vital for them to hear.  They need to hear your stories and understand, in a personal way, our community’s impact on the economy.

Keep in mind that while contact with your local leaders in time of “urgency” is important, it is a good idea to work on relationships at all times. ArtWorks has links for local councils and commissions here.  If your local leaders hold a “meet the public” type meeting, go and introduce yourself, write a letter, send an email.  Invite them to your shows, events, or openings. You can be sure other economic groups are doing it.   The creative community has simply got to get better at it.

Clearly, you will be hearing more from ArtWorks on this issue in the coming months.   To help get the word out and build this vital communication network, tell your friends about ArtWorks.  If you hear news that is important to the community as a whole, let us know.

As always, we want to hear from you, so post thoughts and comments below, or contact us directly at



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The economic argument for the arts…is it really what you think?

It seems like every time I turn around, I am reading another study done by an arts organization with graphs, dollar signs, and percentages showing the economic impact that the arts have on a community or region or state. Although I am always glad to see the statistics and have often quoted them to talk about the importance of arts in a community, I always felt that they were missing something.  Maybe because they often seemed to look mostly at the major arts organizations, where you could count “butts in seats”, and left out the smaller arts groups or the individual artists.  Or maybe because it didn’t take into accounnt the more personal experience that many people have through viewing or participating in the arts. Somehow, I just felt like something was missing in this argument. There are SO MANY people that realize that the arts and creativity matter on their own, regardless of the money they bring in, or sometimes, don’t bring in.

Imagine my joy in finally hearing from an economist that “got it”.  That the true impact of the arts and creative community on a region’s economy goes beyond statistics.  In his article, “A good economist knows the true value of the arts” in Financial Times (August 11, 2010), economist John Kay has the following to say,

John Kay

“Activities that are good in themselves are good for the economy, and activities that are bad in themselves are bad for the economy. The only intelligible meaning of “benefit to the economy” is the contribution – direct or indirect – the activity makes to the welfare of ordinary citizens.”

He goes on to discuss the current trend of studies on the  economic impact of the arts, saying

“(t)hese studies point to the number of jobs created, and the ancillary activities needed to make the activities possible. They add up the incomes that result. Reporting the total with pride, the sponsors hope to persuade us not just that sport, tourism and the arts make life better, but that they contribute to something called “the economy”. ….. “the economic value of the arts is in the commercial and cultural value of the performance, not the costs of cleaning the theatre. The economic perspective does not differ from the commonsense perspective. Good economics here, as so often, is a matter of giving precision to our common sense. Bad economics here, as so often, involves inventing bogus numbers to answer badly formulated questions.

“But good economics is often harder to do than bad economics. It is difficult to measure the value of a Shakespeare play: you can start with the box office receipts, but this is only the beginning of the story. …. The relevant economic questions are whether the cultural and commercial value of the performance offsets these costs and whether these benefits can be translated into a combination of box office receipts, sponsorship and public subsidy. The appropriate economic criterion, everywhere and always, is the value of the output.”

So, when we talk to funders, grantors, customers or even friends about the value of  the arts to the “economy”, are we best served by trying to quantify the value in pure dollar terms?  Does this make the arts community become too one dimensional, so that someone doesn’t  buy the statistical argument, it then give them an easy out to reject the “value” of the arts?  Instead, as John Kay says, maybe we should focus more on how the arts “make our lives agreeable and worthwhile.”   Maybe our main focus should be to ask them to envision our economy, our region, or their lives, without it?

Read more of John Kay’s article here


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