The purpose of Arts Arcata, as far as I can tell, is focused on getting people into town to drop money in the retail stores and restaurants. It really comes down to generating retail activity that rarely includes the art. It is the artists who are supporting this retail activity. There is very little going back to them beside a chance to show their art with shoes, wine, computers, sofas or garden gadgets.
It takes a huge amount of work to produce a true art exhibit and hundreds of people may show up to look at the art and meet the artist but few people buy. So how does one fund art-centric activities? Most everyone is struggling to pay their bills.
Art shouldn't be about buying and selling but then again how do the art makers and those who promote it fund what they do? Rent is too expensive to run with the notion of art for art's sake. I wish this wasn't true.
I run a venue that is solely about the art. It is inside another business (Umpqua Bank) that donates the space and 52 feet of walls. This space is for nothing but art. Is there another venue like this? No. Even with free rent, and the volunteer time of the producer, the gallery looses money. The whole thing is a questionable activity yet we are told all the time how important it is and to keep up the good work. It's community service when it comes down to it. How long is this sustainable? Will my credit card company accept a pat on the back when I can't make my payment?
Personally, I have made numerous attempts to work with the University and I have shown students and had student interns. But students can be flaky and inconsistent and HSU faculty and staff are too over-worked to get involved. They are rarely even seen in town.
I agree with the premise that Arts Arcata has big problems. But I am concerned about the gist of this editorial. The artists and art centric venues are really quite burdened already and are probably doing all they can do. What we need is more genuine support for the art and the artists. It is the retail stores and restaurants that benefit financially from this cultural activity. And if they can't be burdened to help more, then nothing will change. A new face or place will arrive for a season or two then implode.
The Journal itself could do a lot more to cover the art. Probably every artist in the county reads the Journal and it is the logical place for arts coverage. A calendar doesn't motivate people to go out and take in the culture.
In Print This Week:
Dec 5, 2013
vol XXIV issue 49
The North Coast Journal Weekly
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