By Reed A Prescott III
The easiest sales in the world to make are the ones where the buyer fully believes in and benefits from what the seller has to offer. This might seem like common sense but it escapes most non-profits and individuals.
So why is it hard for the Arts to gather support? After all the ways of a creative thinking society is the underpinnings for our world. In large part it is because we somehow don’t understand this dynamic and that we can nurture it. We rarely see the value in what we do naturally and because of this we miss its opportunities. As someone who paints on location at resorts I sometimes stand in envy of those who can afford to frequent a place that offers the finer things in life. I even start to listen to that fleeting voice in my head that says “what would it be like to be in their shoes?” Reality always revels itself when one of those guests comes up to me in total admiration and says “I have always wanted to do what you are doing right now.” These are the people who are on the front line to support my work.
You see in every business, corporate board room, community leadership position, or any other place you can imagine there are people who have put their creativity aside to “make a responsible living”. People who if life would allow them to follow their dreams they would choose to do what we in the creative profession do every day. There are heads of a Forbes listed corporations who loved playing classical music, successful entrepreneurs who painted passionately in their youth, or that politician who loved to dance but gave it up under the ironic ideal of “responsibility”. They, like most of society, have been conditioned to think that the Arts have no place in culture except for taking a respite from the mundane chores of life.
How do we change that programmed thought and develop support for a true economy around “Creativity”? The answer is two fold-“Proven value and Connectedness”.
How do we prove the value of the Arts? I believe we insert ourselves into society and through participation prove our worth. Those who have nurtured a creative idea or have been part of an environment where it was safe to be unashamedly, playfully, creative have found success. Who would think that creating a Web Based outlet where friends could reconnect and stay connected would be innovative enough to even make a living at? Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook. Who would believe that by recreating that childhood practice of enhancing your ice cream could evolve into a sweet fortune? Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Look at any fresh, new, and wildly successful businesses and you will find a creative component pushing it to the leading edge of a market. You see what most businesses know is that “Innovation leads to Profits” what artist’s know is that “Creativity leads to Innovation” We are the forefront to a prosperous economy yet we take a step back and stay on the sidelines watching as the beautiful people dance together. A society that stays on the leading edge of innovation fosters an environment where creativity leads the way or they are soon taking a back seat to other societies.
The second component is “Connectedness”. We are by design a creature that needs others. We survive better in groups, we learn interacting with others, and we feel pleasure helping others to grow. We are so designed to be connected that as our experiences change the way we see life our focus instinctively changes and seeks those who in some way have had a similar experience. It validates who we are. This dynamic presents itself in even the simplest of our life experiences. If you want to know who drives a Volvo then buy a Volvo. Want to know who is fixing up an old house then buy an old house and fix it up. The person who took a vacation to Ireland is more likely to purchase the piece you created when you lived there for a year. As if by some magnetic pull we are naturally drawn towards those with similar life experiences. We seek this connection.
One statistic that has been tossed around the art economy is that 60% of all sales made by Artist’s are to friends and families. The answer to why this is so is due to their connection with the artist. They have a front row seat to the trials and life experiences that mold the works. They have a love and heart felt desire to want the Artist to succeed and are willing to be supportive in any way possible. They live vicariously through the Artist knowing that they had a part in paving the road to the artist's success and happiness. Seeing this grow they have no regret in investing to make this happen.
A truly Creative Economy flourishes when we can open up the connections with people who benefit and fully believe in what we create. Support can be drawn to you like a magnet by opening up your life stories and to welcome those who can identify in. So weather developing a following through social media or teaching a class on how to paint our goal should always be to open those doors that allow others to connect with our life experiences and to help them grow because of that connection. As a creative culture we need to seek and develop opportunities that allow the successful businessperson to reconnect with their latent passion for the arts. We need to develop a culture that treats a creative exercise with the same value it does a cardiovascular exercise. We need to contribute and improve the world we live in by taking the lead on creativity and innovation. In a truly prosperous creative economy we need to invest some of our creative fortune and have faith that in doing so our investment matures. As we see our communitie benefit from our participation and our value evedient to all the support will follow us wherever we go.