I don’t sing, dance, sculpt, write or paint. My work history is rather varied and I have never been employed by something within even arm’s reach to the arts. So... why am I fortunate enough to be on the boards of two incredible arts organizations? Well… I wish I could sing, dance, sculpt, write or paint. I am fascinated by the amazing things others create. I have paintings on my walls that bring me joy every day and never tire of written words that can make me laugh out loud or draw the sincerest of tears. I hope that in some way, channeling my envy of artists through the skills that I have will support those that can do all of those wonderful things.
Why are 'non-artists' helpful on arts boards? We are enthusiastic about what you do. I have been known to share with great exuberance the wonders of Hamilton Fringe or the supports made available through the Hamilton Arts Council. It is very easy in our day to day lives to find ourselves surrounded by the same network of people. We 'non-artists' most likely have a network of people who may not be as involved in the arts community. We can share what is happening with a broader network. When signing on to volunteer on a board there is an expectation to fundraise for the organization. This is to benefit what you do and we each have varying abilities to fundraise whether it be cutting a cheque or connecting our colleagues to the cause. All board members I work with, either artists or not, appreciate the work that staff of arts organizations do. Generally, wages are not exceptional for staff in arts organizations and I believe most of us hope that we can volunteer our time at events or through committees to lighten their load. Lastly, us 'non-artists' are generally great consumers of the arts. We volunteer in arts organizations because we appreciate what you do and want to see your shows, buy your art (although some of us may have walls that are about to burst) or read your articles or books.
Help us! Share with us! Tell us why you do what you do. We are genuinely interested and can’t wait to share your work! Sometimes you may need to ignore our ignorance in your process and teach us. Speak to us so that we can be better advocates of your work and the arts in general. Support the organizations that are supporting you. If you have spare time, volunteer at an event or attend the events that they host. Share with others why you are involved with those organizations. Please keep singing, dancing, sculpting, writing and painting - there are many 'non-artists' out there that can't wait to share what you are doing!
Kerry is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Downtown Hamilton BIA. She is Vice-President/Secretary for the Hamilton Fringe Festival and a new Director for the Hamilton Arts Council.