Art and Entertainment As Economic Development

Not long ago, I was talking to a Chamber of Commerce president from a local community nearby. I explained that the chamber needed an arts and entertainment committee. A small group to put on community events which would help foster the notoriety of some of our local talent. Out here, we have many artists, authors, entertainers, architects, and designers. Many of them are self-employed, some working out of their home, and they need help with public relations, marketing, and they need to develop their reputations. Not to mention the fact that they would have to join the Chamber of Commerce if they wanted to be part of the group.

What about using art and entertainment as an economic development tool? What about using this sector to help put the city on the map, to let the world know that local talent was the cream of the crop? Why not have an author and artist group, and why not put on an event that all in the community could come and see, and have folks from other places come in as well. It would help them sell their work and it would help with economic development.

Artists and authors are also business people, they are self-employed – so to our architects and designers. And you may be surprised to find that in your own community you have various entertainers, DJs, local bands, and comedians, also self-employed. Promoting small business helps everyone. These folks also need to buy computers, canvas, costumes, and coffee, lots of coffee. You might also have apparel designers, weavers, tapestry makers, and what about all those ladies who make quilts? Trust me when I tell you there are plenty of people in your community who are engaged in these sorts of activities, it’s their own little world, it’s their own business.

Why not promote all of this at the local Chamber of Commerce level, why not promote it as economic development, and allow these people to get together and sell their wares at a local fair or large event? It will bring people into the area, people who will spend money, go to restaurants, and enjoy the day. They will also be buying what all of these artists are producing. And they can enjoy the entertainment while they are here, perhaps even set up a schedule with some of the entertainers for private parties.

Promoting your local small business people, especially the very smallest of businesses, all of these home-based one man or one woman operations is a wise idea – these artists and entertainers need our help. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

A Passion For Photography – What Makes the Difference?

At one point or another, all beginning photography students (digital or otherwise) have to ask themselves one question. What makes the difference? Why is his work better than mine, or why is mine better than hers? I have been a Photographer for over 30 years. I have had 5 or 6 photography courses in my life (New York Institute of Photography, US Military Photography Training, etc.) and by far the most useful and enlightening training I ever had in photography, was NOT in photography.Photography as a physical skill is not that hard to learn. Photography as a creative passion on the other hand, takes more than knowing the mechanics. The greatest influence on my photography career did NOT come from photography training, but instead can from ART training. As a graphic art major in college I learned things like: leading lines, composition, balance, repetition, the rule of thirds, etc. As you apply these types of lessons to your photography, you start to pull away from the pack.Now a days, anybody can pickup a quality camera at a low price at places like Wal-Mart or Best Buy, but that does not make them a photographer. The photography Masters like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, or Imogene Cunningham all had something in common, they knew how to visualize. They could all “See” creatively. I believe that comes from actually understanding “art” concepts and applying them to your photography.I went to high school in a small town. I loved both photography and writing, but when I looked at the local community college they only offered two photography classes, so I mistakenly blew them off, thinking “what could they possibly teach me?” Boy was I wrong. Fortunately, on career day I met another photographer who was also head of the art department. That’s when I started to learn to take things to the next level.When students ask me now what they can do to increase their photography skills, I say learn more about art. Learn to think about what isn’t there as much as what is (negative space). Learn why some pictures just don’t feel right (formal and informal balance). Learn why some images just magically hold your attention more than others (leading lines, direction, and repetition). If you have a passion for photography, don’t just dismiss other creative endeavors as “not your thing.” Learn from the painter, potter, or sculptor how to put even more emotion into your work. As you do this, not only will your work improve, but you as a person are also lifted to new levels.