Professional development, artist style

// I Am An Artist weekend allows locals to develop the business side of their skills

Artist Trust, a not-for-profit organization based in Seattle dedicated to supporting Washington State artists, is coming to Tacoma next weekend to hold a two-day professional development seminar May 8-9 for artists of all mediums.

This is the first event of its kind in Tacoma, and Artist Trust is excited about the promise of bringing this event down south.

"We've done a few of these before and it's essentially two days for artists of any discipline to come to so that writers, performers, musicians, dancers, visual artists, craft artists, etc. get to learn how to build their businesses. It gives them the basics to have a business as an artist, and allows them to ask questions such as 'how do you have a career as an artist?' You get to do a little more in this comprehensive weekend long workshop," Lila Hurwitz, communications manager for Artist Trust, said.

The event, taking place at the Tacoma Art Museum, will feature several guest speakers including Cultural Arts Specialist for the city of Tacoma Naomi Strom-Avila and visual artist Holly Senn. In addition, workshops on topics such as portfolio building and applying for funding, peer feedback of resumes and artist portfolios, using the artist landscape and the Internet as a tool for promotion, pack in tons of worthwhile business information that many artists just might not know.

"One of the biggest things for Artist Trust is workshops. It's not just classes that are helpful, it's also the networking. Some artists might not have met each other and heard each other's concerns had they not come. There's a lot of communication and strengthening happening in these events," Hurwitz said.

After artists meet in these workshops, some end up collaborating in the future such as planning on doing an art show together or being able to support each other when the workshop ends.

"Having the exposure is really helpful," Hurwitz affirmed. "It's (how to go about business as an artist) somewhat a mystery, but it's not rocket science. Here are people in same boat as you."

Hurwitz noted that the entire weekend is dedicated to the umbrella concept and theme of "say it loud and proud, I am an artist," which can be a difficult thing to do for artists who may not have seen any monetary compensation for their work yet or for those who are struggling to gain audiences for their work. The workshop addresses these fears and trepidations and asks artists to start taking themselves seriously and think about what they're going to do with their abilities and viability as an artist.

"We offer practical tools but we try to help them (artists) feel like it's a legitimate career, and let them know that there are lots of resources out there, and that it's something you can pursue," Hurwitz said.

To keep the relationships built at the development weekend going strong and to build on them further, Artist Trust is planning an artist networking mixer to take place at the Traver Gallery in Tacoma on Friday, May 21. This event is free and open to the public, and will allow artists to not only reach out to each other, but to speak with Pierce County funders as well.

Artist Trust is planning these events, but they aren't alone in putting everything together. Hurwitz affirmed many local foundations, including the Tacoma Community Foundation, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Arts Commission, Traver Gallery and more have helped pitch in to help the growing arts scene in Tacoma thrive even more.

Artists in Tacoma who are struggling to find their voice locally as an artist and businessperson can benefit greatly from taking part in the I Am An Artist workshop, and reap all of the benefits it has to offer.

The I Am An Artist two-day professional development workshop will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 8 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 9 at the Tacoma Art Museum, located at 1701 Pacific Ave. Cost: artist rate $95 (includes Artist Trust membership), Artist Trust member rate $50 and Pierce County artists are being offered a special rate of $50 (including Artist Trust membership). Cost includes entire weekend of activities, handouts and an appointment with an Artist Trust staff member. Lunch will not be provided. Pre-registration is required and availability may be limited. Info and registration: (206) 467-8734, x11; (800) 21-TRUST (toll free) or e-mail miguel@artisttrust.org.

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