Taking care of business – for artists

Sunshine Coast Arts Council

“Artists have to be excellent at business. Otherwise they do not remain artists,” said Group of Seven painter A. Y. Jackson. It’s an observation that’s been taken to heart by the Sunshine Coast Arts Council (SCAC), which is offering a series of workshops entitled The Business of Art. 

“We’ll be doing these workshops almost monthly until May,” the council’s new curator-director Sadira Rodrigues told Coast Reporter. “But we’re going to keep doing this area of work, because courses and workshops on the business side are so needed.” 

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Emily Carr University instructor and photographic artist Annie Briard conducted the first workshop of the year, entitled The Artist’s Toolkit from A to Z, on Sunday, Jan. 27 at the Arts Centre in Sechelt. Briard focused on improving artists’ skills in expressing themselves in words, which they’re often called on to do in resumes, biographies, artists’ statements and other forms – often reluctantly. 

“One of the big difficulties is talking about your art,” Briard said in interview. “Why it’s so mysterious and why artists hate it so much is because we all express ourselves through visuals or sound or whatever, but not necessarily through writing. So, communicating about their practice in a compelling, efficient, and accurate way is something they can have a hard time with.” 

Workshop participant Roberta Mauel, an accomplished Gibsons watercolour artist and instructor, said she attended in hopes of learning “the how-to of reaching out to galleries and getting out into the greater world, what tools to use, what resources there are.” She was enthused by Briard’s advice. “I’m getting some excellent tips from her,” Mauel said during a break at the workshop. 

Briard coordinated with other BC artists to compile a book of business advice in an ebook, Artists Talk: A Practical Guide to Emerging as an Artist in Canada, which is available for purchase online. 

“The next workshop I’m coming in for is about artists’ rights,” Briard added. “Part of that will look in depth at copyright, how to protect yourself whether you’re the creator or the appropriator; how to deal with galleries, things like contracts and insurance, all of these bits and pieces you need to mitigate risks.” 

Other workshops in the SCAC series include Social Media Strategies, with Meghan Flood, to be held in late February, and Grant Writing 101, with Chad Hersler, scheduled for the last Sunday in April. Briard’s Artists’ Rights session will be held in May. 

Said Rodrigues: “We want people to look to [the SCAC] as a place for professional development – not just learning how to paint with watercolours or oils or do etchings, but also how artists can do business better.”

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