Objektiv Part II

Sep 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm

In doing research for this part of the discussion about a sustainable art event, I came across the Arts and Cultural Attractions group, a GLI business network, and the now 10-year-old Cultural Blueprint.   Many of the items outlined in the Blueprint have had some follow through. A few could use some attention, considering the great strides forward the local art scene has made.   

Before the ABC started policing gallery openings, artists would arrive at the shows of their friends and enjoy fellowship over wine and cheese during First Friday Gallery Hop. In hindsight, it’s likely they were prepping for the onslaught of “hoppers,” knowing the city was proposing and instating an official gallery hop event.  
After the First Friday events took off, pop-up arts groups like Art Sanctuary, of which I was one of the founding members, helped sculpt the local creative landscape into something that was not only worthy of attention but that could expose new artists and increase art revenue. Often at our shows, we would sell several thousand dollars of art in one night and make enough money to help with our operating budget.
Now these things are standard fare in the local arts landscape. It is time to revisit the Cultural Blueprint and take another big step forward.
The five goals of the Blueprint are to expand energy and excitement, promote and nurture partnerships and intersections, focus on families and children and community, generate investment in arts and cultural organizations big and small throughout the bi-state region, and finally create an environment where artists thrive.
Several points stuck out to me as I read through the goals and noticed which items had been met and which still need work. Under each goal were more specific tasks, which included leading cultural tourism initiatives, improving access to cultural events and sources for students, creating opportunities for students and public to “interface” in the arts, creating a talent registry and hosting lectures and openings in public and private spaces.  
All of these tasks could be served by a concerted effort by arts and cultural stakeholders in creating and sustaining a destination art event like “Objektiv” or whatever ultimately it will come to be called.  
Louisville has made attempts at arts festivals. Many are quite good, but, unlike Art|Basel, Prospect or Performa, the scope of them tends to stay focused on a gallery model or a street art fair that ends up being more craft than fine art.  For Louisville to host an annual or biennial art event, it needs to live in the possibility that at some point, it will have to spill out of its borders and begin conversations with other art communities. This was another of the specific tasks of the Cultural Blueprint.  
When I spoke with the Green Building’s Daniel Pfalzgraf, he reminded me that one of the reasons destination art events work is centralization. Most of them have a point of reference with satellite events and exhibitions around them. Louisville is rife with event spaces that are perfect for this. Not only would a destination art event need market/gallery booth space, there would need to be places for panel discussion, lectures and workshops. All of the components have the ability to create revenue, though panels and lectures should probably be included with any general admission. Ticket prices for each of these events is surprisingly accessible to most people with prices ranging from $20 for one-day admission to $90 for the weekend. These prices don’t include the satellite events, only the events on site. Events held outside of the main center charge their own fees and pay for inclusion as an official show event.
In selecting a committee to coordinate such an affair, skills from many areas are needed. Curators, art educators, event planners, financial managers and legal representatives are all essential parts of a committee capable of providing strong guidance.  The committee would also take responsibility for fundraising. Several of the events in larger cities host special nights where, by invitation only, buyers can preview the show. This also provides the opportunity to do a bit of direct fundraising.
So what are next steps? Probably a meeting of cultural stakeholders to gauge interest in and support for a fine arts event. Perhaps the beginnings of a planning committee might form, then the creation of something that Louisville would be proud of and that would complete more of the Cultural Blueprint’s tasks.