Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nude Tuesday! And more about too much

"Rock Quarry" by Howard Hunt of Columbia.
Hunt will show his photos and other work as part
of "Mingle and Jingle," an arts celebration 
on Main Street Thursday night.

When will artists and arts groups start talking to one another?

At the end of my rope a few weeks ago I wrote on Facebook: Why the hell is everything going on at the same time?! (Actually I wrote: I've only been covering the arts in Columbia for 20 years, so maybe I just need a little more time to figure this out: why does everyone schedule everything at the same time on the same day?)

Several people pointed out that this is the sign of a healthy arts environment.
I agree to a point, but we have a small arts audience that’s already fragmented. Instead of it getting more broken up and losing the little clout it has, I’d like to more coming together.

A few recent examples of too much at once:
A panel discussion about the State Art Collection and a reception for a show drawn from that collection as well as two art shows on Main Street. I had to miss the chamber music concert that night.
Another evening included an artists’ panel, an art show opening, a poetry reading and another opening.
Then there was the Friday and Saturday of an opera, a dance performance and a play - something that couldn’t actually be done.

There’s a good, or maybe bad, case study Thursday.
That evening Main Street will be awash with seven art shows and some music and dance. At the same time Compass 5 in Cayce opens an art show and one more is happening at if Art Gallery. The Midlands Clay Art Society is holding an event at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios too. There’s even an overlap in the artists showing at Frame of Mind on Main and Compass 5. And yesterday (Monday) I learned there's another art and design event, this one through the Columbia Design League, going on at the same time as well.

Why doesn't everyone just stand in a circle with guns drawn like at the end of "Reservoir Dogs"? 

Some people will make it to more than one of these places, but with all that Main Street activity, I doubt there will be many. I also truly doubt those who start on Main Street will ever make it over the river and down State Street or vice versa. I haven’t yet figured out how I’m going to do it - and I want to. (One should keep in mind that these are art shows so you can see them some other time, but I know how that goes.) 

The time is past for arts groups, art businesses and artists to start talking to one another and coordinating events for everyone’s benefits. We’re never going to avoid all scheduling conflicts, but we can do better.

(One thing that came up on the Facebook discussion was the need for a comprehensive calendar, but I don’t know anyone who has the time, money or inclination to take this on and artists and arts groups don’t submit information to the calendars the already exist.)

Let’s start with something manageable.

How about staggering activities and have each venue let visitors know what’s going on at other places the same night? That would turn a crowded calendar into something positive.
Looking long-range, how about a gallery association like those in other cities?

 “Too much going on at once” is mostly my problem; it’s my job to go to as much as I can and I get pretty obsessive about it. Call me idealistic, but I want to see you at everything too.

(Look for more commentary in the coming weeks about this and related issues such as cross-discipline programming and the shortcomings of social networking sites in spreading the word. And please share your ideas in the comments section below.)


  1. Visual Arts people are terrified of weekend nights for some reason. It has to be on Thursday.

  2. Is this something that can be treated either though counseling or will drugs be needed?

  3. Good luck....both with your idealism and your scheduling! I understand both problems. Like you, I really try to do as much as possible, see as many things as time will allow, and show up to support those putting their work in front of the public. It is especially difficult since these hours are also my "best" and among my most productive studio hours. Idealistically, I'm right with you in hoping that there is a way artists and arts organizations will come together and make our fragmented community stronger and more assessible. One, good, well maintained public calendar of all arts events would be fantastic. Staggering hours and cross promoting events are great ideas. Getting this accomplished will be a task comparable to "herding cats"....but if there's anything I can do to assist the "cat herder", I'd like to volunteer.
    PS Thanks for stopping by my studio during Vista Lights even though I was in Texas. Blues Chapel looks amazing...and I got to experience just the sort of well coordinated, supportive, and healthy arts community that you (and me and others) are hoping for Columbia. It was GREAT!

  4. It's not just that artists or groups aren't cooperating, Jeffrey. Despite the enlightening and entertaining aspects that the arts bring to our lives, these are ultimately still organizations, small businesses, and artists competing for a consumer dollar. There are so many days in the week and months in the year, and they all need to keep the cash flow steady.

  5. I was one of the ones who made the point that some of this is an inevitable by-product of the city's cultural growth, but what IS absolutely inexcusable in my view is for the various arts components of USC (music, dance, theater, visual arts) not to work things out better scheduling-wise (and venue-wise) in the manner you are wishing for. Unfortunately, departmental parochialism is but one manifestation of the fundamental incongruities between art and academia.

  6. http://artsdaily.org/ is a free and useful resource to consult before scheduling an event and for announcing an event once it is scheduled.

  7. I find that it's too difficult to add an event to Arts Daily to make it a viable solution. I find that Facebook calendars are actually really good because you can see all the events going on. I would encourage everyone to get a FB account for their product and put event invitations out for all of them. Jeffery - you have a FB page. Why don't you just click accept for every cultural event and people can just look at yours? On a different note, I had to get permission to add my events to USC's calendar so good luck merging those two beasts (gown & town).


  8. Jeffrey, let's further your idealism a bit. What if there was an organization, say a sort of umbrella organization for arts groups, that existed to further the arts in the community? It could help coordinate schedules with a calendar or serve as a marketplace for groups to come together and hammer out details like this. It could promote, solicit support or (gasp!) provide financial support! Imagine the possibilities!

    But, wait. We have that, only the Cultural Council is increasingly impotent and obsolete, despite the best efforts of their 1.5 staffers. THAT would be the best solution, a one-stop shop instead of the forty-some community calendars from local media, Arts Daily, the Midlands Authority, etc.

    Oh well. We can always dream, and flip a coin to select what we wish to go experience.

  9. This is terrific!
    Arts Daily at the SC Arts Commission covers the whole state and beyond. And it is loaded with information (although some of it is useless) for artists and arts groups than the general public.
    The Cultural Council calendar is dependent on artists and arts groups to submit info. And they don't. That's why I bet this week none of the stuff going on Thursday is on its calendar.
    I find Facebook events listings incomplete and a bit insider.
    While the university has too many overlapping arts events (three plays running at the same time a couple of weeks back) it has to fit everything into these things called semesters.

  10. you know. ..this is a really good problem to have. . .

  11. I recently tried to post an event on the Cultural Council's calendar and got a message telling me that they do not maintain a calendar and I should post to the Columbia Convention Bureau's calendar. I did so, but what's up with the Cultural Council?

  12. Coralee...yes it is a good problem to have. The best thing is that it is a problem that can be turned into something really positive as long as people are willing to talk to one another and the folks who are going to all the "fun" art stuff once in a while take a look at the "serious" side. And vice versa.
    Pat...when you find out what's up with the CC calendar let us know. You might have gone to the old CC website too. It's very hard to find the new one.
    Cultural Council - what's up here?

  13. I, too, find Arts Daily to be not very user friendly, and though it has been awhile since I tried to upload anything, it took longer than the two weeks to appear if at all.
    It is even harder if you have an excellent event not in Columbia (but not far), such as the current exhibition at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, "Shaun Cassidy and Tom Stanley: Collaboration of Fragments" through Dec 31st. Not even a mention in Carolina Culture.
    And Carolina Culture is a really nice blog by the way, and "Resevoir Dogs" - one of the best movies ever.

  14. Everyone should know Karen is plugging a show at the Sumter Gallery where she is director. It probably is an excellent show and the information about it is right here on my desk, but competition for my time and space (yeah, year, I know it's unlimited) is fierce.

  15. OK, I've done some more looking into the Cultural Council's calendar and website. If you Google them, you find them at getcultured.org, and if you try to submit an event through this site, you are told that they no longer sponsor a calendar and to post your event on the the Convention Bureau's calendar instead.

    But if you look them up on Facebook you find them at a site called "Arts Fund," which DOES have a calendar and will even (apparently) send you a weekly update of events called Welcome to the Weekend.

    Maybe if Andy is reading this, he can clarify the confusing and conflicting information on these two sites and explain what the connection is between the Cult. Council and Arts Fund.

  16. Several months ago I wrote about these various Cult. Council website and how you can't find them. The CC said they'd have a new site up and running in October. I've asked where this new site is, but haven't received a response.

  17. All: You can find the Cultural Council at this non-intuitive web address: http://smartarts.info/

    Nice looking site, honestly, but I tried putting an event on there once and it wouldn't let me, and I really haven't been back. Since nobody seems to know about it, I'm not terribly concerned with bothering.

  18. Anyone from the Cultural Council reading this?

  19. RE an arts calendar - the Cultural Council recently revamped and changed it's website and and events calendars and now accepts both short and long term art events.

    For events happening over time - please go to www.smartarts.info click on calendar and look for the submit an event button. From that, the Cultural Council's Welcome to the Weekend (W2W) every Thursday eblast will list events going on Thursday thru Sunday.

    The Council urges everyone interested to sign up to receive W2W and forward it to others to have them sign up.

    The info is only as good as what is submitted.


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