For the Northwest Arkansas art collective Art Ventures, 2020 would have been a roller coaster even without the social unrest and global pandemic. They lost the lease on their gallery space in late 2019 and were already pivoting to an online presence when covid-19 forced other organizations to do the same. President Sharon Killian answered some questions for What's Up! about what the next year has in store for the organization.
Q. What did you plan for 2020 that fell flat or didn't quite work out as well as you had hoped? And what did you DO in 2020 that was way better than you hoped it would be?
A. We expected to have a new gallery space by February 2020 and that fell completely flat. By November 2020, a "miracle donor" offered a place in the Fayetteville community that we can call our home gallery with indoor and outdoor exhibition opportunities, and the possibility for expansion.
Q. What's your biggest goal for 2021 for Art Ventures?
A. The largest goal is to hire an executive director to lead the organization to carry us into the future.
Q. Are you still planning a 2021-22 season? Or have you kind of shortened that time frame while you wait to see what happens with covid?
A. Art Ventures does have a 2021-22 season planned. Instead of shortening the time frame for the season, we are extending the length of exhibitions from one month to two, allowing more time to see art safely with covid-19 guidelines in place.
Q. What do you have planned that we can look forward to?
A. All of these exhibitions will include programming virtual or live:
"The Frame of Mind" exhibition will launch in February. It calls Black artists to be the "drumbeat in the vast cultural context of Blackness in the diaspora, and its plan to thrive." We plan to have an online exhibition option.
"Social Justice & Artistic Expression," a K-12 art exhibition, will be supported by NWA Links Incorporated.
"Contemporary Dichotomy? Reclamation and Reconciliation."
"Celebrate Pride" exhibition.
Q. Are there changes that came from covid that will be permanent, in some form or fashion?
A. Yes. We will continue to create virtual exhibitions and utilize online programming in our work for the foreseeable future.
Q. Has anything changed about the goals / vision of Art Ventures?
A. We believe that virtual/online experiences will remain an integral part of our future. Also, we have just launched an e-commerce site to increase sales in light of the reduction in live arts interactions. We need to sell art to encourage and support artists to continue to create.
Q. Do you have a time frame for when in-person events will return? Will some of them also remain as online programming, too?
A. We anticipate outdoor events will be possible with social distancing and face masks as the weather warms. When the weather warms we will have room to do art outdoors. We will continue to have online programming too.
Q. What are the next BIG goals for the cooperative?
A. With a new executive director in place, we hope to begin our fundraising drive to support building a children's gallery, a contemporary gallery, artist studios, and an outdoor sculpture garden at 20 S. Hill Ave. in Fayetteville.
Q. What would you like to ask the friends and fans and family of the gallery to do to support you in 2021?
A. We need individual donations small and large to conduct our programs and support artists as they continue to reflect culture. We want community members to feel ownership of the achievements we make to improve and encourage the advancement of art for everyone. The curatorial internship program, for instance, was begun with the direct financial support from two local residents who believe in our vision and mission, see the importance of supporting young people, know that creating a local workforce with specific expertise in the arts outside of being an art practitioner is also important, and know that passion becomes action with financial support. This year the curatorial program is being expanded to include students attending NWACC in the arts.
20 S. Hill Ave., Fayetteville