. Is it open to anyone who can afford to join? Then very likely it’s not going to be comprised of the professionals you wish to meet, so what’s the point?
. Is it a professional group with criteria for membership? Better. Every medium, discipline and academic affiliation has one or more organizations. Your membership in an organization of this type does several things:
... It signals professional achievement and peer approval
... It may confer privileges, such as workshop discounts, or access to specialized equipment such as a printing press or kiln
... It allows networking with others who share your professional interest and level. Online forums or pages mean that you don't always have to convene physically to meet
. Is it useful professionally? Here’s an example: the College Art Association brings together, via an annual conference, art historians, academic curators, art critics, and those who teach the practice of art. If you are looking for a job in academia, membership in the CAA is eminently useful, as there are listings on the organization's website throughout the year, and an opportunity at the conference itself to interview with institutions who are looking to hire. It’s also a good opportunity to meet other artists in academia.
. Is it part of a larger mission? I'm thinking, for instance of the Women's Caucus for Art, which seeks not only to recognize and support the contributions of women in the arts, but provide women with leadership roles and exhibition opportunities, as well as support "local, national and global art activism."
I think it's important to say that commercial representation is not for everyone. Artists who are raising a family, or involved in a 9-5 job, or who do the kind of work that is just not commercially viable may be better served by co-op membership. A well-chosen and well-regarded gallery could be a perfect fit (outside of
. Are the organizers accountable to the membership? Do they respond quickly and clearly to members’ questions or do you feel you’re given the runaround when you ask who, what, why? Are you satisfied with the organization's offerings?
. Does your membership come with opportunities to apply for professional development grants or scholarships? For mentorship? For reduced fees in member-run workshops?
. Is your group one chapter in a larger organization? If so, what is that larger organization doing for you that your local or regional group cannot do for itself? Here’s an example. Let’s say 20 members pay $100 each to become members of a group; that’s a $2000 kitty that you give to the larger entity. Now suppose you want to organize an exhibition in your region. When you petition the larger organization for support funding, you get $500. Wouldn’t you have been better off as a small group on your own?
This is the last Marketing Mondays column of the year, as I will be posting from and about Miami starting this weekend. When the column returns in January it will become Marketing Monthly. After almost 200 Monday posts over the past four years, Marketing Monthly will post on the first Monday of each month. Fewer posts mean I'll be able to offer you longer, more researched pieces. I want to do more interviews with dealers, curators, critics and publishers--people who have a point of view that I don't have--and I want to more fully explore the great projects that artists are doing, ways they are marketing themselves and taking control of their careers. If I feel that I can include an extra extra post in a given month, you know I will.
Please know that your donations make this column possible. If you have not donated a suggested $20 for the year, please consider doing so before the end of the month. A Paypal button is on the sidebar right and just up a bit. This is not an officially tax-deductible donation as I am not incorporated as a non-profit, but if you consider reading this blog as part of your research as an artist, the IRS may allow it as a deductible expense.Your tax preparer can guide you.