Iâ€™m often asked how many artist communities there are.Â Itâ€™s not an easy number to come by as it depends on how you define an artist community. Â However, there are over 400 organizational members of the Alliance of Artist Communities. So that gives us a good clue.Â And according to the Alliance, there are two qualifications to be an artist community:
- Not-for-profit status ( a 501(C)3 designation from the IRS)
- A competitive process for admission
Well what is the Alliance of Artist Communities and why do they get to say?Â
Almost all arts disciplines have â€œservice organizationsâ€ whose mission is to serve and speak for the field.Â For example, symphony orchestras have the League of American Orchestras, and not-for-profit theaters have the Theatre Communications Group.Â They are industry organizations that have the big picture view of the field they serve.Â So our industry organization is the Alliance of Artist Communities, located in Providence, RI.
What do they do?
They convene an annual conference where member organizations gather, attend sessions and panels about topics relevant to the field, and hear guest speakers and keynotes address issues and challenges that all of us in the field face.Â These may have to do with fundraising, assessing and meeting community challenges with you organization, different processes for selecting artists, the latest not-for-profit accounting changes that effect artist communities â€“ all kinds of â€œnuts and boltsâ€ information relevant to our work.Â This year the conference is October 20 â€“ 23 in Providence, and you can click HEREÂ to connect to the Alliance conference web page for all the info.Â (Everyone is welcome!).
But when the National Endowment for the Arts expressed interest in creating a separate funding category for artist communities, the Endowment approached the Alliance as spokesperson and expert for the field.Â Then through this relationship, the Endowment and the Alliance created a new program that addresses our needs, the results of which is dramatically increased funding from the Endowment for artist communities across America.Â Last year, the Hermitage received $20,000 of those funds. (Yeah!!!)Â
And if you or your cousin or friend down the block wants to start an artist communityÂ – you contact the Alliance.Â They have a whole program dedicated to helping new and emerging communities get off the ground.
The Alliance website itself is a huge resources to the communities AND to the individual artists who want to apply to work at a community.Â They maintain an extensive, searchable database of American and international artist communities and a paid ($25) membership gives individuals access to the database with a huge variety of search tools to find just the right creative experience.
The Alliance provides many more services, and more than I have time to detail in this post.Â I encourage you to explore their website.Â Understanding the Alliance will help you understand the field of artist communities like the Hermitage, as a whole.Â Itâ€™s a rich, tremendously varied field.