How to Support the Arts

If you want to support the arts and the creative people behind art, these steps will offer some direction.

Supporting the arts with your money

1. Buy the arts! Don't argue about the price, just look at your budget and decide what you need and want in life. No matter what your income or social class, you have at least some entertainment budget and you have choices in what to get for your necessities. When buying art, you support an artist in his or her pursuit of art, so every little bit counts. The following steps provide practical suggestions for purchases that support the arts.

Both fine art and artisan creations (crafts, chefs and arts that aren't seen as fine art) support the local economy as well as give you a higher quality of lifestyle. You may find you can afford more personal luxury after you know these artists and discover what you like most. They also need to eat, do their laundry, pay their rent and local taxes on everything, so they are also helping everyone else in the area keep their jobs by pouring your spending money into building a stronger community. In all of these things, follow your personal tastes.

Don't buy stuff you don't need or like just to support the arts. Specifically support the artists and artisans whose work you enjoy and collect more of it over the years as they grow artistically. Your collection will deepen as well as broaden and you'll be an important patron to these artists. It's a luxury, so the point is to indulge yourself and get the best of their work.

2. Support the indie artist first. When deciding to go out for a show, consider tickets for live theater instead of a movie or an indie film rather than a first-run blockbuster. You're supporting new actors, directors, producers and live theatrical houses when you make these choices. If a favorite comes along go ahead and get the first run viewing but opt for a matinee to save money so you can also see the indie film. You'll have more variety in your viewing pleasure and your dates may find that you are more educated, sophisticated and intellectual than if you just go to the same movies everyone talks about.

3. Buy real paintings and drawings from living artists to decorate your home. Collect real art within your budget. If you like artists you can't afford, consider smaller original pieces, sketches rather than paintings or archival limited edition prints. Then take care of your art collection by storing it in a cool, dark, dry place (attic, closet or other air conditioned indoor area).

Frame everything and look up basic art conservation for collectors. If you vary which artists you collect, the entire collection will appreciate in value. You may not know which of your collections will become super valuable by the artist's fame growing, but your kids and grandkids will have an incredible legacy if you spread that investment around -- and do it from the heart.

Buy the artwork you fall in love with. Then stash them if your tastes change because collectors or your kids may love them later.

4. Buy books from living authors at full price. Very often discounts and bargains get taken out of the author's royalties. The author gets paid on the net, not on the gross value of the books printed. If it's print-on-demand and you discover independent authors you like, always purchase them direct from the author's website versus Amazon.

If you collect e-books from living authors, you won't need as many bookcases.

Don't feel bad about purchasing hardcover versions of paperbacks or e-books you liked and want to reread, that's a way to reduce your bookshelves to manageable.

5. Buy tickets to music, dance and other live performances. Again, do this within budget and focus it on your tastes. You may like Riverdance more than you like formal ballet, or you may prefer live theater off-off-Broadway types of productions. You may like concerts with big famous bands or symphony orchestras or opera. Yes, this includes live theatre as mentioned above or any type of performance art you enjoy.

Pay full price tickets to magicians and musicians.

When you pass a street performer, put some money into the performer's hat or tip box.

Buy CDs of independent musicians who self produce them, you may be launching a someday-famous band and have a collectible -- or just have a beloved CD of famous music. And if you download their music, pay for it––don't be a freeloader as the "free music" attitude has ruined the livelihood of many a struggling yet very talented musician.

Be polite and quiet during live performances. This is especially important in pubs that have Celtic music, as the Celtic tradition is very keen on respect for bards. Don't talk during live performances. You're not only distracting the audience who'd like to hear the music, you may be distracting the musicians too and throwing them off their stride.

6. Hire live local musicians for your personal events -- weddings, graduation parties, child's bar or bat mitzvahs, Sweet Sixteens, family reunions or get-togethers. Why not celebrate your anniversary by hiring a live musician to serenade your spouse at a romantic dinner -- or have a romantic dinner at home with a musician performing that you both love? Any kind of holiday or personal event can become lavish if you have live music. Book them well in advance, talk to them in person after a concert and find out their rates.

Find out when the band's off season is and what causes it. You may wind up getting a bargain or a shorter wait time if you book them during a time of year they don't get many gigs. The opposite of tourist season is often good.

For the holidays, try to book the band early, so you're the one that gets them for your holiday party.

If you like variety, turn your annual music party into a "guess what the band is" event.

7. If you need to buy new clothes, especially for evening or party wear, consider finding a textile artist, tailor, seamstress or other artisan. Instead of going to an upscale shop where you'll pay a high price for fancy clothing, go to an artist who will fit it to your individual body much better, create it to suit your precise looks, complexion, style and taste, and support another type of independent artist. You will get more than your money's worth because a quality handmade original garment will last longer and if you pay for their best work, wear better than anything from even an expensive store. You can reduce the size of your wardrobe while raising its quality.

Buy handmade boots and shoes from leather crafters and artists. Again, they will be expensive but they'll fit better, look better and wear much longer than shoes and boots from stores.

If you like buying shoes often, find your favorite artisan and have new ones designed for you periodically for fun. You might start getting a "regular customer" discount working one on one with the artist instead of just purchasing something made by mass production to sell to thousands of others. Remember, your shoes are unique, unlike anyone else's. If they were made to fit your Christmas dress and you love them, maybe take them to your clothing designer next year to get a new Christmas dress inspired by the shoes. Artists sometimes work together on things like that. The more you know them, the more personal and unique their works are and the closer they come to your personal tastes.

8. Have jewelry handcrafted for you by artists. On a low budget, start with small silver and semiprecious stones. Once you're up in a fine jewelry bracket, you can pay for more elaborate workmanship and more expensive materials. Especially pay attention to their original pieces or commission original pieces. Buying the stock rings and necklaces they have on hand helps the artists to survive, but when you choose their best work or commission something unique that takes the best of their skills, you also feed their souls.

9. Eat out at small chef-owned original restaurants. Food is an art form, so is ambiance, these one-of-a-kind restaurants are sometimes a lot higher quality than chain restaurants. Once you find your favorites, you're likely to get personal attention and extra good service for a more enjoyable experience.

10. Buy handmade toys, furnishings, furniture and gifts from local artists. No matter what it is, if a local artist makes it, you are getting originality and personal attention. Your entire home can become a collection of treasured, unique, beautiful objects. Many of those things will be higher quality than manufactured goods.

11. Buy locally grown food from farmers and gardeners. Hire local landscapers to take care of your yard, unless you're a gardener. Find the ones who are artists, look at their other gardens, then give them some artistic freedom. Yes, the flowers in your yard and the landscaping can be artwork that is an expression of who you are and what you love.

Asking for a commissioned piece of artwork

1. When buying art, choose an artist you enjoy (of any kind, performance or tangible) and then keep your description of your commission simple. Stick to the type of work that's their specialty.

Don't haggle over changes, give them a hard time or get too controlling. Part of supporting the arts is to encourage the artist to go on being an artist. You're not buying real arts in order to get the cheapest bargain or rip off the painter for a masterpiece by paying less than he did for the materials! If you do that, there's a good chance the artist will get disgusted, quit and do something else for a living, which reduces the appreciation of that masterpiece.

Leaving compliments for all to see

1. If you bought from a writer, an artist or a musician, review the item on Amazon, Twitter and other places online, especially if you like it. Negative reviews are a warning not to buy from an unreliable seller. The arts are far more personal, your taste comes into it. If you made a mistake and got a book you didn't like, explain what you didn't like in a way that people who would like it for what it is will find it enjoyable.

Try something like, "I expected this to be a lovely vampire romance and it turned out to be a horror novel with a fanged stalker who scared me to death. Don't buy this book if you want to mush over the vampire. But if you like a good scare, it might be just your thing." You have not only supported the writer (or artist or musician, etc.) by purchasing their original work, you've supported them again by word of mouth so they can sell more, make a living, pay taxes in your town, etc.

Localizing your support for the arts

1. Support the arts in your local area. Youth theatres, amateur organizations and school productions need your support! There are hundreds of ways to get involved, whether you're designing posters, sewing costumes or selling tickets.

Organize and help set up at festivals and fairs. Just helping a bunch of artists and crafters get their stuff unpacked and set up, or helping to organize an event that they can all show up to helps them big time!

Help promote local arts events by posting about them online, blogging them, making flyers or stapling flyers up.

If your town or city has an arts committee, find out what they need volunteers for. If it doesn't, consider trying to form one.

Some types of local events you can help organize or prepare for are concerts, live performances including outdoor ones, art fairs, studio tours for artists, book signings and poetry readings, any of the arts can benefit from a public event and its exposure. If the artists have any recordings or physical things to sell, be sure the event's rules allow them to sell their works even if the performance or show is free.

2. As you know practice makes perfect, so keep practicing and cultivating regularly. Be sincere.

Take classes in humanities or art, music or literature appreciation at your local community college. Some local community charges have a much lower "audit" fee if you attend the class but don't take the tests, get a grade or college credit for it. When you're attending just to improve your appreciation of the arts, auditing is just as good as taking the class to get in the right number of Humanities credits and leaves you more in your budget to buy real art, pay local musicians, get tickets, etc.

Getting involved in the arts yourself

1. Get involved! The arts are about creativity and self-expression, so whatever your passion, get out there and enjoy the art. Arts are broad, including drawing, painting, performing, street theater, making murals, crafting, engaging the community in artistic projects and much more, so there are plenty of things to explore and find your own artistic niche within.

If you haven't yet discovered the activity that's for you, find out about free or cheap tester classes you can join. Ask if you can borrow materials initially, or look online for many cheap options such as auctions of art materials people no longer need.

2. Do some reading. Go to your local library and find books on photography, art, ballet or even the art of performance.

Read up on these arts online, whatever your particular interests are. There are many reviews and articles on all of the arts available for free. That frees your budget to make knowledgeable purchases from local artists.

3. Go to a museum or art gallery. Find an art, ballet, photo or performance museum. If you can't go in person, see online exhibits if they are available.

When on vacation, visit museums and galleries in your vacation area. You'll broaden your appreciation of your favorite arts and appreciate your local artists' works even more by deepening your knowledge. You're on vacation anyway, so why not see what artists and musicians, etc., are producing in the cool place you visited? If you take vacations in the same place every year as some people enjoy doing, you can become an annual regular and support particular artists -- the local painter in your holiday spot, the little pub that always has good Celtic music, that theatre, the opera house.

If you like opera, definitely get at least bargain tickets and experience it live. Opera houses operate on a shoestring despite the number of millionaires that donate. They need to sell those empty cheap student seats at the back and it's a wonderful experience. The productions cost so much and involve so many live people not only performing but doing all the work of creating the production that they're always operating at a brutal budget. If you're an opera lover who lives near an opera house, consider volunteering your time and effort to help keep the house going.

4. Donate to charities who support the arts or donate to organizations directly. For example, the National Endowment for the Arts, who help art programs throughout America. Donate to art programs You can donate to programs in your school or city.

Organize a monthly art hop. Sign up various art venues in your area that will open their doors on one evening per month. A map and list could be offered in advance to help those planning their tours. Finger foods and beverages could be served at each spot.

Donate directly to local theatres, performance companies and arts events. Many of them accept donations. Your local arts council and local theatre troupe may need the donations more than something as big as the National Endowment for the Arts.

Support PBS. Make a steady annual donation or watch when their pledge drive auctions and bid on things you want. Volunteer to work the phones at PBS pledge drives. PBS always needs it, everywhere, and doing this will also get more of your favorite programming purchased by your local PBS station. They listen to fan requests.

Purchase new copies of your favorite books at full price from living authors and donate them to your local library. The community will be better for it, those that can't afford it will get to read it sooner, those that might never have found your favorite author may wind up buying their own copy when they have to return it. Everyone wins, and your author is more likely to continue writing instead of taking up something else because the bills need to be paid.

5. Get out there and experience it! The only way to boost your appreciation and support of the arts is to experience as many performances as possible. Be open-minded and you never know which new genres you will discover.

To save money, opt for cheaper seats or buy last-minute tickets from discount websites.

If you can't afford original paintings from your favorite painters, consider their smaller works, sketches or limited edition prints. Whether you opt for lower priced works from the newest indie unknowns or the lower priced works by more successful artists, you will always be supporting the arts -- and that supports the economy both local and national.

6. Get to know the artists. All of the arts are about communication. Forming relationships with artists and artisans, studying art appreciation and encouraging those that are growing in their arts also improves the quality of your own life. From furnishings and objects that you enjoy more than mass produced goods, to the social success of becoming more refined and knowledgeable to the inner spiritual growth that comes from awareness of beauty, supporting the arts will enrich your life in more ways than you would expect.

Tags: Art, How To