One of the benefits in living in central Illinois is that our communities are big enough to provide amenities and small enough to produce connections that enable citizens to be influencers. This column is a good example of how two people following their passion for the arts have inspired others to become more active in their own arts interests. Central Illinois Artist Organization (CIAO) is another example of how a very small group of artists began a movement with a few First Friday venues in Peoria that subsequently has grown into dozens all around central Illinois.
Artists have always been at the forefront of promoting what they love, but the national trend for support of the arts through arts advocacy is increasingly being driven by non-artists who understand the value of the arts and see it as a way to grow the vibrancy of their communities, their schools, and their businesses. If you would like to be a part of this national trend focused on promoting the arts, consider choosing from this list of activities. Not only will you help your community, you might even find yourself moving from arts advocate to arts activist.
As an Individual
- Shop local. Support your local artists by buying their work. Buy art that speaks to you. Art should be personal. No more mass-produced art.
- Buy season tickets and become a member of an arts organization.
- Attend First Fridays and gallery art receptions. Attend performances.
- Go out to eat when you attend an art event. Tell the restaurant owner, you are out because of the art.
- Get the buzz going.
- Find your own passion and take a class. Artists are good teachers.
- Support arts education by providing a scholarship for a student.
- Make a donation. All nonprofits need funds to achieve their goals.
- Sign up for the ArtsPartners newsletters to keep informed.
- When you enjoy an event/organization, write a review on Trip Advisor and Yelp.
- “Like” and follow arts organizations on social media. Share events and invite others to join you.
- Make time for yourself to make art.
- Buy art and donate it to a nonprofit medical facility or organization. You get a tax write off. The artist gets paid.
- Contact the Community Foundation of Central Illinois to learn about creating a donor-advised fund or field-of-interest fund to support arts.
As a Business
- Host an art event. Display artists’ work and invite the public in for an art reception.
- Add a mural to your building.
- Support organizations that foster public art. Art brings in customers.
- Sponsor an event or make a donation.
- Have employees volunteer for an art event. This is a great team-building opportunity.
- Rent art for display.
- Give away tickets to local performances. This is a meaningful employee/customer incentive.
As a Citizen
- Vote for politicians who support the arts.
- Keep informed about public policy concerning the arts.
- Ask Peoria City Council members to consider having a fee for building variances that is then used for public art.
- Contact your local school board about making arts a graduation requirement.