Local Social Network for the Arts Community in Central Valley

To raise funds for the Arts Council operations, should have a membership fee.

The Fresno Arts Council (FAC) would like to get the opinion of the FresnoArts community in regards to membership fees. Historically, it has been a challenge to operate FAC because of a tight operating budget; case in point, the Executive Director does not have a budgeted salary. In order to have some breathing room and have some funds for operations, the FAC is exploring options on how to raise funds in addition to other fundraising activities.

This is the first of the many idea box that will come through; mainly for the purpose of getting opinions from you since you own this community. Results from this discussion will have "some" effect on FAC's decisions in the future.

Update 9/8/08: Here's some facts/points that might be important in the discussion.

1. Fresno Arts is a public/private collaborative enterprise between Socient and Fresno Arts Council. FAC does not have a budget to put resources into building an online community --- thus the model of partnership.

2. Fresno Arts is more than a community for artists where exchange of information between peers happen; it is above all, evidence that there is a growing and thriving arts and culture ecosystem in Fresno. In the big picture, a lot of things follow when that is evident: more creative people move here, more credibility to Fresno as a city for creatives, etc...

3. The initial idea of having a membership was to create a fund to support and make this model sustainable. The allocation of funds raised through this site would be:
a. 40% - discretionary/unrestricted funding for artists doing public art
b. 40% - FAC operations
c. 20% - marketing of this site to other channels

4. I thought of the 40% discretionary funding for artists bec. currently there is no way other than grants and sponsorship an artist could get funding. What if there is a fund where an artist could dip into to provide public art (ie. chalk drawing in the streets or a performing artists to play music at fulton mall).

5. Paying a membership fee in the overall big picture is not about transferring artist's money from their pockets to FACs. It is a testament of support to the goals we are trying to achieve as a collective: to help raise awareness of the arts. Therefore, I propose we do not approach FresnoArts as a service by FAC but as a cause: that we are here because together we raise awareness for the arts... that we are important to the development of the city and our country.... that we SHOULD be part of the discussion in planning for the future.

6. If we do the math, $35 by itself is not that significant and useful; however when multiplied by 1,000, it becomes $35,000 --- which could provide for a yearly budget to market the arts as a collective (via public art, print and broadcast advertising, etc...)

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Most of the social networks to which I belong do not have fees. Those that do, offer most of what I find here at FresnoArts for free, but charge for enhanced services. Flickr Pro, for example, offers unlimited uploads, larger file sizes and more groups and sets for organizing what I do upload.

I can join and use quite a bit of Etsy, without ever selling or buying anything. Etsy makes money when I sell an item: a flat fee for listing and a percentage on each sale.

If were to offer some sort of enhancements or provide a system for artist sales, that would be attractive to me and I would be happy to pay fees for those services. Otherwise, I would have to consider what FresnoArts provides me that I could not find, free of cost, elsewhere.

Thanks for asking!
I belong to several social sites of various subjects (art, gardening, etc.) and all are free. They do run ad banners on top or bottom or on the side. One art social site has 100,000's of members, a lot of reference photos in their library and members load their works up all the time for discussions and lessons. It is free. They do have ad banners that take care of all the costs of the site.
I think that the Councils and Clubs should have fees, but social sites should remain free for members.
Just my two cents worth. :-)
There are too many bait and switch gimmicks already that start free and then start charging for their service. For example, Netzero started as a free ISP and promised they would always be free .... Netzero means they net none of their users money! ... Sure a huh that promise is history! Hasta la vista baby! FAC receives grants that enable them to provide a service to the art community. Artists already are hit up regularly to donate art for auction fund raisers and charged to hang their art in local shows ... for FAC to help the art community instead of their bottom line they need to keep their new excellent website FREE.
I agree with all of you.
Hiya Victor,

I saw this and OUCH! You know our operating budget is laughable as it is non-existent. To add more costs would pull us under. Due to economic crisis, I cut out almost all of my memberships to clubs and associations that require 'membership fees'. It's a simple choice between loosing my house, buying gas for the car and maintaining a household. I am soooooo behind on my bills it's hilarious! Almost lost PG&E (24 hour notice) and sent to collection (AT&T home and cell phone).

Many are mocking me for continuing the Central Valley Dance Festival at hard times like this but I made a commitment to dancers and the community to continue with it. Thanks to you, FAC, Cynthia and others for making it possible this year but without your support, we'd never make it.

My 2 cents.
Slow down sistah.. we're not charging anyone any fees... I'm just putting out a feeler out there (also in the interest of the new feature I am experimenting on called the "idea box"). You have to trust me that out of everybody here in the universe, I am the greatest advocate against charging individual artists for anything. Even with event co-promotions, the first thing I ask is if there are charges to artists (those that do, rarely get a push for promotion at FresnoArts --- unless we think that it's a really good deal for the artists).

Re: Central Valley Dance Festival. You are in growing pains right now, but I assure you that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Having the Fresno Arts Community at your side for marketing does not hurt either. You missed the grant cycles for Fresno Regional Foundation and the Fresno Arts Council where you could have gotten some funding from both organizations. You'll have next year though. As I mentioned in our meeting early this year, I could help you with grant writing.

Cheers and I can't wait for the CVD Festival. Are you liking the banner ads on the event section? Let's do a push at the beginning of October for 2,000 more page impressions and a featured event on the October e-newsletter.

- Victor
Hi, Victor.

For my opinion, I would pay a free for membership. Art is very important for me and I would love to support myself and everyone who loves to do art. No matter if they will buy my artwork or not. Fresno needs more Art shows and support artists to have Art shows too.

This website is great for everyone, especially in Fresno. We have great artists here. And for the CVD festival, I think we should go and share in the experience.
Money is always a focal point with artists. Fine Art Shows, Craft Shows fees are high. Before you have sold an item, fees up front. If local, prices of work is a key debate issue. You must have a high enough price to create a worth. However, how many of these artists with a high price tag are making enough money to continue. For ceramics, you have clay, PG&E, chemicals for glazes, gas, show fees. Since gas is high so is clay & PG&E. Fewer purchases, fewer customers at shows. Out of town, then you must add hotel, meals & gas. The Home & Garden Show at the Savemart Center was a financial disaster. I won't return. Attendance was not there.

The Fresno Arts Web site is beginning to catch on. However, it has not proven its self and its free so what the heck. Can it make money for the artist? Arthop is a costly activity & time consuming for the galleries. Persons who come to Arthop (I think it is great, I love to go) don't spend $, just here to look. The web site may be more of the same. Who will you lose if you charge a fee at this early stage? A comment made to me regarding this web site from an accomplished ceramic artist," it is not a juried site" they did not want to be included with just anyone. An accomplished artist doesn't necessarily want to be thrown into a wading pool.

How about a donation of one piece from each artist. These pieces could be auctioned off on the web site. Possibly bring new people to the site. An activity. It may also be a way to drive lay people to the artist site to see additional work. How about a store on he web site. Fresno Arts would take a % on each sale. Everyone on site must provide Fresno Arts with at least one sellable item for the store.

This is my perception of the membership fee comment. Ann Stewart
Hi Ann,
It's a tangent (and can be moved to another discussion/thread, if need be), but I think if artists are expecting FresnoArts to be juried, then they've missed the point (or are uninformed about) the purpose and value of a social network site.

I belong to several other social networks, for other media, in which we have national and international names. Instead of diminishing their names, it becomes a venue for increasing their name recognition, and for more sales and contacts, since many who buy juried works are themselves dabblers in the arts they admire and also want to promote their favorites. These networks also tend to provide even expert members with access to markets and events in other parts of the country/world, that they might not otherwise know about. (I recall one group of women in Ireland that shipped in their favorite professional for a custom three day seminar, and then treated her to an insider's tour of the island, in addition to her flight and fee.)

I could say more, but I hope Victor and others experienced with social networks comprised of members with varying abilities will speak up (whether in the area of the arts, or not!)
Victor, if you need help running the site, ask and we will volunteer. If you can't pay hosting fees, you can move the site to my server for free.

A community is about helping people, and I am glad the Arts Council exists, but outside of the opportunity to meet local artists, there is nothing here we cannot find free elsewhere. If the site started charging, it is likely someone else would start a similar one without fees, so you would defeat your purpose.

Just my 2 cents.
It is a sad day when some artists don't want to social with other 'not as good' artists. Artists are the creative minds, the open minds. The artists should be more open to the creativity of others and have more tolerance towards others. Several social art sites that I belong to do not jury the members. We have beginners benefiting from the advise and inspiration of the more well known artists. Many artists at that site are very well known artists; authors, instructors, award-winning artists, (names that most of you would know if mentioned), and none are ashamed to be associated in a group that allows all in.
I am proud to belong to that site. I am also proud to belong to this site- as long as we remain open to all artists. Those who don't or won't join in due to the caliber of the membership are the ones who are missing out, not us!
This economy is rough for those of us on a fixed income. The reality is that when you are making art constantly then paying regularly to enter and attend various is expensive to promote your art.
You havent said how much a fee would be. and I think a lot would depend on that. However, when I go over my budget every month .........another charge just might be that one that is too much.
I really value this site and talk it up with other artists and almost always I hear the first question...."How much does it cost?".

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