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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I agree with a lot of what people are saying, I personally am tight with a budget as everyone right now. Doing my art is a luxury, and am blessed to be able to. I enjoy the site, I am apart of other social networks that are international and enjoy them, but actually meeting other artists here is more tangible. I myself am just getting my feet wet and this community really has helped me find ways to market myself and find opportunities. Back to the membership fee, it always sucks to have to pay for a service especially when it starts out free. I have a suggestion, keep the initial membership free, posting images (even here can be limited) and commenting to one another. Then have a fee to upgrade to blogging, promotion, more images etc. This is just a suggestion I personally would like it to stay free but accept what ever has to happen.
Hi Victor, I understood what you try to tell us about FAC situation. And I don't mind to help FAC if FAC help me. If I make enough money from my art so I will have money to pay the fee. Most artists they spent their own money to support their art, because their art income cann't support itself. That why we had big discussion right here.

I think our problem is : I cann't see clearly yet what I will get from FAC if I pay for the fee. I mean something that I really can see it and know for sure that I will really get it. Show me!! (if I get the place to show my art ,they're from people in this network social, not from FAC)

If I pay the fee for this site, I mean to help FAC and myself and build our art community to be stronger, not for using this network.

My experience is, I registered to be a member of FAC since about 1and a half year ago and I expect to get something better for my art but all I get is a few e-mails in the first day and invitation ask me for $100 to join dinner with local artists. And I asked myself who am I. I'm not a local artist? And who're those local artists that they asked me to pay $100 to join dinner with?

I registered with FAC because I need to be supported, not to support others. I have no ability for that. I talked to a person at FAC long time ago, doesn't seem she understood what my art problem is.

I wonder if FAC is going to the wrong point. Help artists or artists to help them. Actually we can help each other if FAC bring up some good plans to show us what they're going to do , put them on discussion so artists will know they're going to the right point or not and make sure all artists will get those supports, not only a few group of artists or whatever. Make it clearly.

I'm waiting for FAC to change my experience about them to be in positive way. I'm ready to trust them if they offer their trust to me.

I don't mean to say any bad thing to anyone. If I misunderstood something, please educate me. I don't mind to understand something better.

Respectfully to every body.

No problems Victor, thanks for clarifying.

I do agree that sustaining a successful online community requires all those things, but what are the costs involved there? Can FAC outline where the money is going in terms of the maintenance of this site? Can't things like moderation and design be donated? We are artists after all!
Sorry if you had that bad experience before... Unfortunately, the FAC as an organization could only do so much for the individual artist. Presently, for $35 a year, artist members of FAC receive the following:

1. Assistance in marketing through e-mail and mailing list promotion. If you have a show, you could go to FAC and ask for assistance in mailing a promotional postcard to market your show. We have over 1,500 mailing addresses of arts enthusiast. We will print the labels, help you put them in your postcard, then work with the post office for mailing using non-profit postage rate (artist pays for the labels and postage --- but you'll have help putting it together).

2. Access to Community (which is currently free) to avail of self-promotion opportunities using profile, blog, forum, and events platform.

As I mentioned before, the FAC's mission is to "enhanced people's lives through the arts". One component is to help "individual artists", but the major component is to help ALL artists (as a collective) by working on various programs such as ArtHop, providing grants to arts organizations where artists could perform and work, working on public art (as you see in the RFPs lately), and now this social network and events promotion calendar (fyi: we are that I know of, the first arts council in CA to use social media as a marketing platform --- the reason being is that it is expensive and cost prohibitive to implement one).

I volunteer most of my time to FAC. As a social entrepreneur, I adopted FAC as an organization on 2007 and have not left (at least not yet --- I adopt one nonprofit a year to help with web marketing and technology). The reason I stayed is because I see that FAC needs help fiscally and with keeping up with social media marketing and that as a home owner/business person in Fresno with 3 kids, I see very much the IMPORTANCE of the arts as it relates to our city's growth and relevance in the future.

I hope I answered most of your questions. If not, send me a private message...

Best regards,

Here's some info on my previous post:

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

Hi, Victor.

$35 is not very much. We get a lot of good thing from this website. I hope you are getting money from other sources, I'm happy to pay $35.

I don't have my own website and my own Gallery. And some artists has their own.

( I'm not rich person, but I'm sure that I can pay for this much money for my work. Me and my husaband are paying over $35 to $50 for one meal. when we're going out and having lunch or dinner.)

Sorry, Victor. I don't mean to say this example. " It's just the truth."

I sent you my message, but I'm not sure if I put it in the right place.Please let me know, if you get it.
No, $35.00 is not very much but once this site that was marketed as free changes to fee. Membership will drop and the site will no longer serve all artists but only and exclusively, the elite. We need an art council for the people and if the weakest poorest artist can't participate then a new Art Council should emerge! .... If money is needed to operate then why not go to the high rollers who have the bucks, so they can have their annoying adds and banners desecrating our art ... isn't this the way of capitalism?
long live the free market system
I have waited to add my two cents because I want to give an opinion and not react. A couple months ago, I read about the site being free until October 2008 and have been waiting for a discussion or reaction to this. As an artist and independent gallery owner, I see this from two views.

As an artist, I enjoy having a community. Though not an active participant in discussions, I do read what is being discussed and take in information. I am working to strengthen my art. I get encouragement by seeing what others are doing, and reading about their art. This site is a good way for artist to build community with other artists, but I don’t see the outside community coming in to buy art here. As was mentioned in an earlier posting, art hoppers don’t spend money, which brings me to my other role as a gallery owner.

This site has been a vehicle for local artists to contact me about showing their work. As an independent gallery there are no fees for showing, but I take a commission on any piece that sells, which doesn’t happen very often. As a gallery without fees, I have a 2 year waiting list. Will I have to start charging a “hanging fee” to offset the PG&E, receptions, mailings for shows and my website? Maybe, but I don’t want to. Will charging a fee affect the number of people wanting to show at my gallery? Maybe. My Pollyanna vision (boy that dates me!) is people who appreciate art will come to see art. If they like it they will buy it.

When I joined the FAC as a gallery, I paid $100, and continue to pay, to be included in the annual brochure. I hope the brochures have brought in a few viewers, but usually people come in to get a brochure. A fee for the website could be hard for some and not for others, but what are the artists getting? Many sell on other sites, others have other free communities for support, and many have their own sites.

We need to reach out into the community. We also need to have a mission. Is it to bring art to the community? Then we need to apply for grants designed to support community art and to help educate the general public about art. Artists are doing their part by creating.

If our mission is to make money and support artists, then we need a marketing strategy and a marketing committee for this venture. Artists will have to do their part by actively participating and maybe pay fees.

As was done for splitting the Art Hop into two nights, maybe we need to survey what people want. Can the FAC work with artists and the community for both purposes? Can the FAC create a community art division and a marketing division?

I will get off of my soap box now. To pay or not to pay, I don’t know. Why? Is the question…we need direction.
I agree with your idea, it's reasonable. Also your gallery is the first gallery in Fresno that no charge for hanging painting fee. This is a thing that I've been looking for long time and never found one. Glad I found one now. Even I don't have opportunity to show my art at your gallery, but I already felt appreciated it. Thank you!

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