Community Foundation of Western MA awards AES $8,000 grant

January 2010
The Arts Extension Service at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of an $8000 grant from the Community Foundation of Western MA to support AES’ Artist Business Training Project.

The Artist Business Trainings will be offered to 75 artists in three sites in Springfield, Northampton and Orange, MA with the goal to impart best business practices to artists, based on   nationwide research conducted by the Arts Extension Service.  The grant comes from two sources overseen by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts: the Buxton Charitable Foundation Fund, Bank of America, Trustee, and the Credit Data Services, Inc. Fund.

Arts Extension Service staff will present the 1 ½ day artist business trainings in the winter/spring of 2010.  At each location, a site coordinator will host a Peer Group to help artists to self-organize peer groups.  Trainings and site coordinators include: Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield (Rosemary Woods of Art for the Soul Gallery), Commonwealth Center for Change (C3) in Northampton (Julia Handschuh), and the artist collective North Quabbin Woods (Annette Ermini).  

According to Arts Extension Service Director, Maren Brown, “We are grateful to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts for their support of the region’s artists.  The economic downturn has deeply impacted the arts in the United States and the region.  Across the country, artists are experiencing vastly disproportionate unemployment rates: 50% more than other professionals with equal education, according to a recently released National Endowment for the Arts report.  According to a recent report by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, our region has a 61% higher proportion of creative workers than the national average.  If our artists and their small businesses fail, our region’s economy is at risk.   We’ve even been contacted by a number of well known local artists asking for ideas about how they can adjust their business models, keep their homes, and in essence, survive this downturn.”  

Each session will consist of four key components: (1) A  1 ½  day artist business training led by Arts Extension Service (AES) instructors Maren Brown and Dee Boyle-Clapp, which includes Business Basics, Marketing, and grant writing with an emphasis on building new business opportunities;  (2) individual phone consultations with AES staff; (3) facilitated Networking meetings with Site Coordinators who will host monthly meetings to help build artist peer groups; and (4) handouts including a copy of the Arts Extension Service’s Artist in Business workbook, and access to a private Artist Business Resource area on the AES website.

Artists will be invited to participate via email and personal invitation by the Site Coordinators and the Arts Extension Service.  To be added to the mailing list, please email the Arts Extension Service at aes@outreach.umass.edu or contact the site coordinators directly: Julia Handschuh can be reached at C3  in Northampton at:  info@commonwealthcenter.org, Annette Ermini can be reached at North Quabbin Woods: aermini@northquabbinwoods.org, and Rosemary Woods can be reached at: Art for the Soul Gallery, artforthesoul@verizon.net