Tools: Artist Outreach

The Art Connection program is only possible with the generosity of our participating art donors. The contributions of their art fuel the program and maintain the mission of making original art more accessible to local communities. Artist outreach is a critical component of the program in order to place artwork in local agencies; you first need artists on board willing to donate their artwork.

How artists donate
Our donation process is automated. Check it out here.

Why artists donate
Artists and collectors donate art through The Art Connection for a number of reasons including to:

  • Know their work can have an impact on the daily lives of people in need
  • Show work to audiences who normally do not have access to art
  • Move work out of storage and have it viewed by many
  • Support a recipient agency’s mission
  • Increase their visibility and reputation
  • Provide a solution to issues relating to estate planning
  • Donate through a reliable program that makes the process simple

The Art Connection’s success in launching an art donation and placement program with limited resources was dependent upon building trust and credibility, and to some degree, visibility, within the artists’ community. A few respected artists in the community were recruited first to both donate work and speak on behalf of the program.

Launching an Art Donation and Placement Program

First Steps:

  1. “Top down” approach – Recruit one or several respected artists in a community to donate and speak on behalf of the program.
  2. Recruit Visible Spokesperson (i.e. Arts Commissioner) to initiate outreach efforts to both potential art donors and recipient agencies.
  3. Market Research and Market Testing – The Art Connection surveyed both artists and potential recipient agencies in the early months of operations to gauge interest in the program. Artist surveys were submitted at artist gatherings under the auspices of a community arts leader.

Artist Outreach

Artist Referrals (Peer-to-Peer Networking): Once artists are on board, call or send a mailing asking them to provide names of other artists who might wish to participate. We have found that word-of-mouth between artists is often the most effective outreach tool.

Community Networking: Visits to art openings, exhibits, artists’ events, open studios. Example: staff attends local Open Studios events collecting cards from those artists whose work is of interest. A follow-up email is sent after Open Studios letting the artist know about the program and how they can get involved if interested.

Artist Collectives: Communications with umbrella groups; presentations to artist groups.

Grassroots Events: Community artist potlucks serve as an excellent way to get artists together to socialize and learn more about the program.

PR: Newsletter; press articles; website; pro-bono advertising (e.g. Society of Printers Newsletters); direct mail.

Other Outreach Avenues to Explore
There may be a variety of local resources to identify as avenues for artist outreach:

  • Art Communities that organize, print, and sometimes have web listings of participating artists and particularly for “Open Studio” events.
  • Arts service organizations that have artist databases
  • Art schools/colleges
  • Galleries
  • Museums
  • Web searches
  • Local Cultural Councils and Government Arts Councils
  • City Redevelopment Programs that develop “artist live space”
  • Foundations (where artists apply for funding and services)

Artist Packet

Once an artist has indicated an interest in The Art Connection, they are sent an information packet or email including forms/links including but not limited to:

Once the application packet is received:

  1. Digital images are resized (if necessary)
  2. Artist information and details of each donated work is entered into the database
  3. A folder is created for each artist that contains completed forms and other information
  4. The artists’ work is added to our digital presentation for qualifying agencies
  5. A thank you letter is sent to the art donor within three business days

Artist Stewardship

In addition to outreach, stewardship of existing art donors is important in maintaining ongoing relationships with them. Methods of stewardship include:

  • Sharing “calls to artists” for exhibition or grant opportunities
  • Immediate follow-up throughout agency placement process (minimize concerns for the artists by taking care of all the details!)
  • Recognition events and receptions at recipient agencies
  • Promotion and recognition of artists’ work on website, newsletter, and social media
  • Providing references, referrals, and recommendations
  • Schedule an annual artist recognition gathering. We have a BBQ for all participating artists.

Through stewardship efforts, many artists who initially had planned to donate one or two works have instead donated several and have partnered with our program over many years.