When the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) in Wisconsin first considered hosting a Creative Capital Core Workshop, they knew the biggest hurdle to overcome would be communicating the true value to local funders. While MARN does offer professional development workshops to its 200 or so members, it had never attempted to coordinate a three-day immersive workshop like Creative Capital’s, which came with a higher price tag than MARN’s standard offerings.
“We offer a variety of programs—portfolio review, bookkeeping, some very basic things. But this just took things so much farther,” said Jeanne Olivieri, MARN’s Board Secretary. “Bringing Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program to MARN was a very unusual and very important thing for us. It was also something we had no prior knowledge about how to plan for.”
MARN knew the need was there in the artistic community. They just had to raise awareness with local foundations, and so MARN’s staff and board members dedicated themselves to gathering the necessary funding. “We have a couple of foundations in town. We don’t have a ton of art funders, but we have a couple who are very dedicated,” said Olivieri. “It took explaining to them why the Creative Capital Core Workshop was so pivotal, because it was a slightly foreign thing to the foundations.”
This explanation took longer than expected, delaying the workshop from its original scheduled date of November 2012. But in the end, the Helen Bader Foundation and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation got the message. And the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) also got on board and provided the space for the workshop, which took place May 31 – June 2, 2013.
Milwaukee workshop participant and PDP Artist Leader Richard Move
Nineteen artists, mostly from the Milwaukee area, participated in the workshop. “We were very excited to have the opportunity to select a group of artists who are very serious about developing their careers to work with Creative Capital,” said Olivieri. Some of the artist participants knew each other, but others did not, and the workshop created the opportunity to make connections within the community. Olivieri also cited the diversity of artists working in different media and different levels of experience, which allowed for a variety of perspectives in the workshop.
Olivieri, who is a practicing artist herself, said she saw in the workshop how vital it is for each artist to pair independent business thought to their artistic vision. The workshop gave her new confidence to make contacts and expand her reach. “I have decided that any city I go to, I will look at galleries and take a portfolio and set up some meetings,” said Olivieri.
Since the workshop wrapped, Olivieri has seen signs that the artist participants have been putting what they learned into practice. One artist in particular was able to make changes to an upcoming presentation based on the workshop teachings and, as a result, she exceeded her funding ask. A number of the participant artists are also working on their one- and three-year goals as taught in the workshop.
Of the feedback Olivieri has received from the workshop, one artist’s comment stands out. The artist relayed to Olivieri the words of Jackie Battenfield, one of the workshop leaders. “This is the end of the beginning,” Battenfield said to the group. For Olivieri, those words worked nicely to sum up the Creative Capital Core Workshop.
To learn more about the workshops and webinar offerings in Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program visit http://creative-capital.org/pdp.