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1 way an Art Space can make money – – Medium

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Art spaces are a unique blend of Culture, People, and Beauty. I find immense joy in seeing people laugh, dance, and smile listening to music or standing in front of a painting. But sadly even after spreading such comfort and warmth to the community, art spaces struggle to sustain themselves and thereby die very soon.

For clarification, an Art space can be anything, but usually, the term is used for Galleries, Museums, Libraries, and institutions that work to preserve the arts. Therefore, by this definition, they are majorly funded by governments and Non-profit centers and are heavily guarded by institutional curators.

I have been on a mission to solve this problem of how these art spaces are dependent on external funding and are not self-reliant. And also to make art more engaging than just put in a box or on a wall.

Here, I showcase one way that can directly or indirectly help these spaces to sustain themselves with what they promote. I will be taking the example of a Folk Music Museum that is finding its footing as an independently held museum.

Artist Management

For a Folk Music Museum, Artist Management is a no-brainer. Because of their links with local artists, their reputation amongst those artists and their access to a city audience make them ideal for helping out these artists find more places/opportunities to perform at.

As I shared this input, I got a stream of questions, most of which I had asked myself as well and decided against them.

  • Would we be just the middlemen or are we providing a full-service curation service?
  • It’s a competitive market with everyone providing the same service at a cheaper rate.
  • It will be too much of a trouble, and we’ll lose focus from our core activities.
  • It’s not something we do. We don’t want to get into event management.
  • It’s a Short-lived Tactic as once the other guys get the contact info of the artist then they don’t need us.

Let’s understand why I say Artist Management is good for the space and for the Artists.

First, we are providing a valuable service to the artists, which is to get them performances and not just performances but paid performances. Something that every individual feels good about and treats you with respect for. Considering that these are artists from the hinterlands of Rajasthan, India, not having access to most of the people who appreciate their art and also the fact that they are really bad at communicating their skill/art which makes them really susceptible to exploitation. With fair practices and a recognized name, this space can really help promote them further and give a chance for new artists to showcase themselves. It can also become the platform through which the world understands, recognizes and values this art form and a gateway for the artists, both young and old, to learn, impart and share their art form.

Second, artist management is definitely a competitive market, but which market is not? We will be targeting a different segment of the market plus create a trusted Brand in an unorganized market. The negotiations are a part of the initial setup and happen in any sale. But they are easy to put down.

  • Customer: We can find cheaper artists — Us: Sure. I can even give you a few numbers. But would you have the time to check out their performances, select the best one for your occasion, negotiate the pricing, coordinate logistics like timing and sound? And more importantly, would you still be sure that they can do a 1–2 hour performance on their own with the same quality as their best-practiced song? 
    [Showing value in what we do as a Brand]
  • Customer: We call a bigger band for that amount in fees. — Us: Definitely you can, and it totally depends on what kind of a feel you’d like to give to the evening. If it’s youthful, popular and Bollywood like theme, then obviously the folk singers won’t make sense. But if you’d like Contemporary yet grounded, Timeless and energetic, Folk music should be your choice. 
    [Curation — Being an advisor to them.]

Third, it’s not that much trouble once the systems are set, then it’s just about coordination which also gets smooth as we understand it better. Most of the time, a single person or a team of 2 people are able to take care of the entire operation. That allows us to focus on other aspects of our work as well. And not lose focus from the core of the work.

And Lastly, it’s just a mindset shift or a play of words. We can call it event management, artist management or a Platform of opportunities for the artists. Our value is not just in the contact info of the artist, it’s also in research and development of the artists, curation/suggestion of the artists, quality checks etc. Plus we can also do contracts with the artists for exclusivity and even give them further benefits like a recording studio or publicity or education support to keep them loyal to the organization. This would make it a longer-term strategy than just a short term, Cashflow generation tactic.

And the benefits are huge! For this particular institution, the benefits would be multifold — Artist trust and loyalty, Regular communication, planning their schedule which will allow them to reduce costs and have more performances than one.

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