Thursday, September 27, 2007

No more starving artists

Jerry Yoshitomi teaches artists to be entrepreneurs at the Arroyo Artists Collective

A common complaint from artists is that progressive spiritual art attracts big crowds, but doesn’t sell well.

Painting the queer Christ is considered the biggest financial sacrifice of all.

I challenged the popular wisdom and found inspiring new solutions by attending an “Entrepreneurial Artists” workshop by arts consultant Jerry Yoshitomi last week.

Yoshitomi believes that all art adds value to society, so he teaches people like me how to make their artistic visions real by increasing income and audience.

He got the whole group of 30 people to brainstorm about how to transform this very blog into a powerhouse that supports progressive spiritual art globally by building on the successes of my website, my book Art That Dares and the National Festival of Progressive Spiritual Art.

I told the group my dream of sponsoring a big progressive spiritual art contest with a prestigious judge and winners displayed online, in a book, and in a U.S. gallery tour—and they can up with practical steps to make it happen.

“You’ve got the vision and you’re doing the work. Money is the easy part,” Yoshitomi said at one point.

It was a personal breakthrough for me.

“Make it easy for people to give you money,” Yoshitomi advised.

He recommended using On that note, I set up a account (see below) to collect funds for a huge mailing that we are doing to 800 art and religion professors who expressed interest in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. AndroGyne Press designed the flier and is sharing the costs, but my portion is $450. Please use the button below to help with a donation.

The workshop was sponsored by the Arroyo Arts Collective, an amazing arts group that happens to be based in my part of Los Angeles. A group of strangers became a mini-community at the workshop as we took turns brainstorming about each other’s art projects. We generated enormous enthusiasm as we encouraged each other in all our diversity-- a flamenco dance teacher, a woman who does cigar art, a painter of family portraits, a man who wants to do animated films, and of course me, the lesbian Christian author.

Before the workshop I was planning and dreaming (and sometimes worrying) about how get the resources to go to the next level with Jesus in Love. I believe that re-envisioning the sacred is one of the most important tasks of our time. I had faith that God’s abundance was out there with more than enough funds to meet the need, but I couldn’t imagine how to access it.

The key is to get your audience to think about and express the value that your art adds to their lives. Let me say here and now that the Entrepreneurial Artists workshop gave me motivation and practical steps to make my artistic dreams come true. Some attendees grumbled that Yoshitomi’s approach minimized the purpose of art by packaging it like detergent to sell to a specific demographic. Perhaps this proves his point that audiences are not uniform, but are comprised of subsets of people with differing needs.

Yoshitomi is lead consultant on information and network strategies for LINC (Leveraging Investments in Creativity), a national initiative to improve the lives of artists. In the workshop he taught marketing theory with examples from museums and corporations. But his greatest gift was creating a sense of community and vision that empowered us to see that the resources we need are already within our grasp.

I’ll be presenting more specific ways to join the vision of promoting spiritual progressive art in the future.

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