A new effort by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven seeks to help local artists further their careers.
Beginning March 15, Debbie Hesse, the Arts Council’s director of artistic programs and services, and Shola Cole, the Council’s community programs coordinator, will be traveling to three venues around New Haven offering “pop-up” career counseling, including workshops and one-on-one consultation sessions. Hesse said that by offering consulting outside the office, she and Cole hope to reach artists who wouldn’t otherwise hear about upcoming exhibition and performance opportunities. While the three visits are the only ones planned so far, Cole said that if they go well, the program may be extended to include more dates and locations.
“The arts have the ability to bring people together,” Cole said. “Maybe just going out and being in areas where people are more likely to approach us will help more artists find the council.”
While the new pop-up program will provide similar services to the in-house counseling the Arts Council already offers, Cole said local artists often have difficulty locating career assistance when they need it. She said the council hopes to make career services more visible to artists by creating outposts in areas already frequented by local artists, such as theWilson Branch of the New Haven Public Library on Washington Avenue, where she and Hesse will hold a session on March 29. Artists seeking local art events often turn to the Wilson Library for information about arts events, Cole said, making it an ideal location for the outreach program. On March 15, Cole and Hesse will travel to 756 Chapel St., the headquarters of the City of New Haven’s Project Storefronts initiative, which fills empty storefronts with work by creative businesses, followed by The Grove, a collaborative meeting space on Orange Street, on March 22.
Hesse said that in addition to spreading information about exhibition opportunities in New Haven, the Council’s counseling program aims to help artists develop confidence and professional skills, which she said she hopes will help imbue the creative community with “new vitality.”
Cole said the pop-up program’s first three sessions are part of an off-site counseling pilot program that, if successful, will continue in the future and extend into the greater New Haven area. The initial three sessions will allow Hesse and Cole to better understand the steps they can take to improve marketing, networking and financial opportunities for local artists, Hesse said.
Arts Council Executive Director Cynthia Clair said that at this point it is difficult to estimate how many or what kinds of artists will utilize the program, since artists are able to walk in without signing up for sessions beforehand. Though no artists have yet registered, Hesse said she and Cole selected the sessions’ locations because artists are more likely to “stumble upon” them in the course of their daily lives.
“I believe people will come to us in different ways, and that is fine,” Hesse said. “We are trying this as a pilot, and will fine tune in terms of locations and hours after these initial sessions.”
In addition to the in-person career services, the Arts Council also partners with local business in order to help artists find display and performance spaces.