Artists who meet regularly and support each other over a period of time develop more confidence and courage to move forward with their careers. If you have ever considered starting an artist’s support group, here are 17 guidelines to get you started:
Begin with a small group of no more than 12 artists.
This will allow everyone to have several minutes to express themselves. If you decide to enlarge the group later, you can divide the members into smaller groups.
Establish the group’s mission based on mutual agreement.
Decide, what’s the purpose? For example, will the group be focused on offering critiques of each other’s work, or will it be devoted to solving professional issues — or both?
If you want the group to focus on professional growth, make it very clear that the purpose of the group is not to replace group therapy.
Establish the frequency, duration and location of the meetings.
Determine if there are any costs that need to be covered for refreshments, supplies, etc.
Establish ground rules and goals at the first meeting. You may choose to repeat them at the beginning of every meeting as a reminder.
Choose a group leader who will be responsible for maintaining order and guidelines.
Set a timer in order to give every participant time to speak and share. Place it in a central location.
Set up a private members-only blog or Facebook page where you can post information to all members. You can announce your calendar of events, next meeting’s topics of discussion or location of meeting, or ask for RSVPs.
Identify and work to solve the needs of each individual as well as the group’s shared concerns and challenges.
Provide positive and constructive feedback on new ideas for growth without judgment or criticism.
Distribute copies of everyone’s biographies or other information of value to each member.
Encourage fellow members to bring something beneficial to each meeting, such as an exhibition opportunity, an artist resource or service, invitations to upcoming art events, ideas, or art articles printed out from this blog!
Invite an art business expert as a special guest to present a talk at your meeting.
Inspire each other to reach maximum creative and career potential by sharing success stories.
Motivate each other to get out of your comfort zone and take risks without fear.
Discourage behavior that is not aligned with the purpose of the group.
Make it clear that self-indulgence, negativity and criticism will not be tolerated. Be prepared to un-invite anyone who refuses to follow the rules.
Renée Phillips launched a supportive group called Manhattan Arts International on LinkedIn. She is also the director of Manhattan Arts International (www.ManhattanArts.com) and curator of juried exhibitions. She offers advice to artists in private consultations and on her blog at http://reneephillips.blogspot.com and manages the Manhattan Arts International blog at http://Manhattan-Arts.blogspot.com. She invites you to follow her on Twitter @reneephillipsny, and join her on www.Facebook.com/ReneePhillipsArtCoach and www.linkedin.com/in/reneephillipsartcoach.