Amping up the Arts in Asheville
While the Asheville Area Arts Council (AAAC) is one of the oldest arts councils in the United States, in recent years its purpose has not always been clear. Now, with a new Executive Director, a sound mission and growing support from artists, arts organizations, economic development agencies, donors and other stakeholders, AAAC has found its voice. It has begun to bring leadership and energy to Buncombe County’s arts community, supporting it and artfully connecting all the dots.
Greater Asheville is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier arts destinations. Those of us who are fortunate to live here as artists, audience members, venue operators, educators and financial supporters recognize, however, that our creative community needs a stronger infrastructure if is to continue giving Asheville/Buncombe County an edge as a dynamic place to visit, live and work. That’s where the AAAC comes in. Our job is to do the heavy lifting required to strengthen the vitality and visibility of the creative community through advocacy and research, capacity building of our artists, marketing and audience development, and grant making. Our job is to tend the forest so that many trees can grow strong and tall.
At a time when resources are limited, the new AAAC is still taking a number of important steps to establish programs and services that support the Asheville area’s creative community and therefore, the economic and social health of all of Buncombe County.
AAAC’s Role as Asheville’s Cultural Guide
The AAAC is working on three major initiatives to guide visitors and county residents to the arts, artists and related resources in Buncombe County.
A Dramatically New and Improved Community Arts Calendar: www.WNCarts.com AAAC has paved the way for arts and culture attractions and events, artists, and AAAC to link our respective events calendars to help people find information faster and make it easier to market our corner of Western North Carolina. For visitors and residents, a searchable list of combined events means no more having to hunt on multiple sites to find events that are a good match with individual interests. They can visit any website in the network, search once and find events they want to attend. The mobile phone app makes it possible to take your itinerary with you! Visitors to the site can enjoy a variety of artist portfolios, area attraction videos, and more. The calendar will bring local events into focus, enable more connections between local artists and the community, and give even greater flight to Asheville’s creative soul.
The networking capability is being provided by Pursuit of Happiness, an innovative North Carolina software and marketing company. In other cities that have embraced this calendar/networking vehicle, events participation, ticket sales and traffic to local businesses have been given impressive boosts. The new and improved community arts calendar is now available at www.WNCarts.com!
Individualized Concierge Service to the Region’s Culture
The AAAC is making its Asheville Area Arts Council Gallery facility in Asheville’s River District the go-to place in Asheville for
tourists and county residents seeking expert guidance to the many facets of the Asheville area’s
culture so they can use their time creatively. Working on a regional level, we can connect
culture to the community in ways that no single member organization could alone. Beginning
in June 2012 the AAAC will assist AAAC Gallery visitors with information, directions, and more. We
will ask members for information about their work and organizations that we can share with
Cultural Resource Registry
The AAAC Culture Resource Registry will be a resource for promoting visual, literary, performing and multi-disciplinary artists living in Buncombe County. Available online and in-person at the AAAC Gallery, it will provide a platform on which artists can expand their audience and publicize their work. It will connect artists to opportunities and enable them to present their work in a searchable form for organizations, curators, architects, developers, community organizations, individuals and businesses. The registry, which will soon be on AAAC’s website, will be available to everyone and free to use.
Helping Artists Learn Business Skills so They Are Not Starving Artists
Artists need business skills if they are going to make a living from their art. A working knowledge of bookkeeping, sales, marketing, pricing, production, contracts, taxes, legal issues, copyrights, payroll and more is a large part of what separates thriving artists from starving artists, and that’s why AAAC is partnering with other organizations to provide three different types of learning experiences to the Asheville area’s creative community. We have the wisdom in our circle, and sharing that know-how with artist-entrepreneurs is central to AAAC’s mission.
Resource Center for the Arts
AAAC is partnering with Arts 2 People and the Asheville Art Museum to deliver the Resource Center for the Arts (RCA), a one-on-one continuing education opportunity and resource center at the AAAC Gallery for the creative professional. The RCA acts as a career center where essential business management skills can be learned through individualized training via the Artist’s Curriculum Program. RCA utilizes the expertise of grant writers, lawyers, business professionals, nonprofit consultants, graphic designers, gallery managers, web designers, bookkeepers, successful artisans, and more to help artists develop their skills. Just as important, expensive-to-own equipment and creative software can be accessed at the AAAC Gallery, and other resources and information can be obtained as well. The Artists’ Curriculum
AAAC is working with AB Tech, Handmade in America, local educational institutions including UNCA, and others, to compile, promote and manage registration for professional development and creative workforce training opportunities across the region. Classes, which will be geared toward small groups of artists, will take place at AB Tech, the AAAC Gallery, and across the region. Classes are scheduled to begin in August of 2012.
Creative Sector Summit and Forums
The AAAC hosts the region’s only networking and informational arts conference, the Creative Sector Summit. The annual summit allows for the sector to share information and build advocacy, which helps the AAAC and other arts groups to do a better job on behalf of the arts as an industry and as a community. The Summit’s cultural sector assessment surveys have begun to map the sector, an essential part of understanding how to strategically target programs and subsidies to create jobs.
Each month on 3rd Thursdays, AAAC will sponsor Creative Forums at the AAAC Gallery whose purpose is to
elevate the networking, professional development, mentoring and advocacy opportunities for
the Asheville area’s creative professionals.
Topics during 2012 include:
- Creative Place Making
- Social Media & Ecommerce
- Working with City and Country
- Funding Grants & Capitalization
- Trends in the Arts
- Arts Education
- Performing Arts
- Marketing & Advertising
- Technology & Digital Media
- Creating and Managing Events
- Affordability of doing business in WNC
- Space for Art
- Finding Exhibit Space
Asheville Area Arts Council’s Services for Arts Organizations
AAAC offers a number of benefits to arts organizations that are members. The AAAC Gallery is AAAC’s headquarters in Asheville’s vibrant River District, now home to more than 165 artists with studios located in late 19th century industrial buildings. Our multi-purpose “big room,” The AAAC Gallery, is available to members and is a great space for exhibits, rehearsals, workshops and fundraising events.
AAAC also pursues grants from government and other funders to re-grant directly to the Asheville/Buncombe County arts community. We are building our grant program, so check back here on our website from time to time to see what opportunities are available to artists and arts.
AAAC is happy to assist emerging arts organizations and groups by using its 501(c)(3) status and acting as their fiscal sponsor for projects that extend the range of the AAAC mission.
If you are a member of a art organization and have additional ideas please contact us.
Advocating for Greater Asheville’s Creative Community
AAAC believes in making things happen versus waiting for them to happen. In challenging economic times, fighting for dollars and convincing elected officials, economic development agencies, government and private funders, and citizens about the value that arts bring to our community is more important than ever.
As the chief advocate and market researcher for the Asheville/Buncombe County arts community AAAC takes very seriously its responsibility to explain how supporting the arts does not just mean supporting art or artists, but the restaurants near the theatres, the hotels people stay in to see music performances and the taxi cabs people take to galleries and museums. AAAC is at the table to build awareness of Asheville’s creative community and its economic worth, secure funding, create policies that strengthen the creative sector, expand market, facilitate permitting and ease regulation.
Through advocacy, we help unify and galvanize Asheville’s creative community. We do this critical work so that artists and arts organizations can focus on their missions — creating great art.
As the prime arts partner for the City of Asheville and County of Buncombe, the AAAC makes sure the arts is at the table as our community grows. This unique form of advocacy links infrastructure projects to opportunities imbuing our growth with all the benefit creative place making can bring.
Join with Us
Arts and creativity are vital to us as individuals and as a community. They make us engaged, expressive and confident. They make us human! Join with AAAC as we work to empower and promote arts and culture in our region. We provide a vessel for the arts community to be seen, heard and and valued as a key element of Buncombe County’s economy and quality of life.
For More Information
If you have questions, suggestions and comments about the Asheville Area Arts Council, contact Executive Director Kitty Love at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asheville Area Arts Council
346 Depot Street
Asheville, NC 28801