HAS: How Art Sells
Hollis Art Society gets practical
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a lot of visual art associations in New Hampshire. There’s even a statewide one. Some are known for annual shows. Some have their own galleries.
Is there room for one more? Apparently so.
The Hollis Art Society incorporated in June 2007. Originally, 20 interested people met to discuss it. Now there are 50 paid members, and the organization is pressing on with their strategic plan.
“I think that there definitely was a space for a regional creative arts organization that took more of a holistic approach,” said Society president Suze Scholl, a healthcare consultant who works in professional development and coaching.
Two features that make this group different are that they encompass most creative pursuits and that they invite arts patrons to join. About 20 percent of their members are in their performing arts guild, which includes singers, songwriters, musicians, dramatists and storytellers. The other 80 percent are in their visual arts guild. Members come from Hollis, Nashua, Merrimack, Amherst and Mont Vernon, as well as Dunstable, Tyngsboro and Townsend, Mass.
“I think where we are different is I think people are enthusiastic ... I think people are so excited because we are so dimensional,” Scholl said.
One major difference is the emphasis HAS puts on strengthening artists’ business skills. HAS is very mission-oriented, Scholl said. It seeks to work with emergent and producing artists in professional development, open up economic opportunities for artists, and provide time for social interaction among artists and arts patrons. And those three things should also benefit the community, she said.
One benefit of including patrons is that they can lend skills artists might not have. Patrons might be more likely to help out with organizational tasks or events, for example. Including patrons also puts artists in touch with potential buyers. And having that outside perspective can give the artists “a reality check,” Scholl said.
HAS members recently filled out a detailed questionnaire that asked about artistic and commercial goals, and asked members what they’d learned about themselves in the past six months. Scholl said “feedback has been phenomenal.”
For instance, they had six people bring in examples of paintings they did when they were in a “serene mode” and in a “passionate mode.” They asked an audience which pieces they liked best, and it was always those made in passionate mode, Scholl said. But until then, the artists thought what they made in serene modes were their more “accepted” pieces.
The group looked at brand issues. “How does an artist ... put together a piece of art or music so that the audience can identify with it, that the piece allows the audience to enter it?” Scholl asked. “If someone can’t attach to a piece of art, you’re not going to sell it,” she said.
HAS is heavy on helping members find out how to run a business. In June their professional development program with Victoria Tane was “Increasing Sales through Customer Service and Relational Selling.” In July they will focus on IRS deduction details, with a program called “It’s not what you make, but what you get to keep.”
The group will hold a barbecue in August where members and friends can mingle. Scholl tries to keep business meetings short to allow people to spend time networking, she said. Their Arts Connection Trips (ACT) series helps with professional development and social time, she said. Groups of members have taken trips to various museums.
HAS is planning a workshop on conquering performance anxiety Sept. 20, at the Lawrence Barn in Hollis. The group also plans to hold an annual arts gala at the barn Nov. 15 and Nov. 16. They are having a Web site created, and want to create an education center.
Artists pay an annual fee of $35; student artists pay $20. Arts patrons pay $50, but people who want to join can ask for “confidential stipends,” if need be, Scholl said.
Contact Scholl at 880-4730 for details on HAS. Board members include Victoria Tane, Lynda Petropulos, Kevin Kelly, Kim Riley, Lee Harper, Paula Furlong, Howard Denton and Toby Tarnow.