NASAA Notes: April 2020

April 7, 2020

Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina: Virtual Marketplaces and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing severe restrictions on public gatherings and physical interactions. Those limits in turn curtail opportunities for traditional face-to-face commerce. To help the arts sector address this new reality, state arts agencies are establishing virtual marketplaces and helping artists develop new platforms for online retail. Kentucky, Maryland and North Carolina all offer useful models and tools.

Kentucky Crafted Virtual Market

Image courtesy of the Kentucky Arts Council

The Kentucky Crafted Market is the Kentucky Arts Council’s (KAC) premier marketing event showcasing Kentucky artistry. The show has featured the highest quality art, craft, literature, music and food since 1982. To follow social distancing recommendations for limiting the spread of COVID-19, KAC canceled the 2020 event, which affected business opportunities for more than 150 artists. In response, KAC hosted a virtual event via Facebook, giving buyers and exhibitors a chance to view and purchase work by the artists whom they were looking forward to seeing at the live event. KAC promoted the virtual event through e-mails targeted to Kentucky Crafted Market buyers for the past 10 years. Exhibitors posted introductory videos about their methods and used the virtual event as an opportunity to educate and connect with the public. Artists used this virtual forum to ramp up on their own e-commerce platforms and shared their own posts to encourage sales. The pivot to a virtual platform not only offered “buy local” business opportunities for creators and consumers, it also facilitated connections among artisans. Find out more from KAC Executive Director Chris Cathers.

Maryland Art Marketplace

Zuiderzee Museum Netherlands, by John D. Benson. Photo courtesy of the Maryland State Arts Council

The Maryland State Arts Council’s (MSAC) Maryland Art Marketplace is a digital platform that showcases the breadth of creative talent in the state and connects creators with buyers, curators and exhibiting institutions. During the COVID-19 crisis, MSAC is elevating this strategy to promote creative commerce and encourage Marylanders to purchase original artworks online. The platform features 3,700 artists of all disciplines, including sculpting, ceramics, music and photography, among others. Prominent links drive traffic to each artist’s online store, while artist profiles include photos of work samples and background information about each artist’s history and creative approach. Shoppers can search by art form, locality or product price range. Originally intended to expand business opportunities and recognition for individual artists in Maryland, the Maryland Art Marketplace has taken on new relevance as COVID-19 has shut down many opportunities for art shows, exhibits and other opportunities for face-to-face sales. MSAC is promoting the platform to the public and recruiting new artists to register for the service. Additional information on MSAC’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in this log of programmatic recommendations and action items arising from statewide listening sessions. For more information, contact MSAC Deputy Director Steven Skerritt-Davis.

North Carolina: COVID-19 Content Resource Guide for Artists

Image courtesy of the North Carolina Arts Council

Artists are finding new ways to generate income and connect with people virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. The North Carolina Arts Council surveyed the field and created the COVID-19 Content Resource Guide for Artists, a user-friendly guide with tips and tricks for many of the fundamental techniques artists and arts organizations use to develop a web based presence for their work. The guide shares do-it-yourself video recording techniques (including practical pointers on video orientation, resolution and composition) and advice for live-streaming events (including the pros and cons of various platforms) as well as information on common electronic payment platforms for sales transactions. The Arts Council is promoting the guide to artists and arts organizations that want to improve their virtual presence, boost their technology skills or create online content for the first time. To learn more, contact North Carolina Arts Council Content Strategist Sandra Davidson.