Artist Cooperatives: Use and Benefits Continued

The major advantage to artist cooperatives is their ability to promote the stakeholders, while they share the costs. Artists must also be a business person, completing the multitude of business operations while managing their career. The cooperative allows the individual artist to share these non-arts activities: managing and paying for studio and exhibit space, marketing and advertising their creations, and even cleaning chores. It makes sense to collaborate with fellow artists to get these non-arts activities completed. And it makes sense to pool rent dollars for a better location in a part of town exposed to up-scale foot traffic!

Another advantage is that a legal entity is capable of purchasing an insurance program for all members. Even if the artists pay for the insurance themselves, pooled risk management is always less expensive than individual risk management.

Additionally, the networking and educational opportunities allow the individual artists to grow. By simply sharing space, each is exposed to the others’ styles and methods. And, because the artists share space, each is exposed to the others’ client base.

A cooperative offers its customers advantages too: the opportunity to meet the artist, learn about the work’s inspiration and/or construction, and even learn about how to best care for the artwork over time. This, of course, leads to another advantage to the artist: a personal relationship with the customer.

But there are disadvantages too. The monthly dues, though less than if the artist is working alone, can’t be postponed. Even $100 a month may seem high if your product isn’t selling. And, not only are the financial responsibilities shared, but so is every decision. The font style on the new brochure, the paint color for the interior walls, even whether to build or purchase display cabinetry has to be decided collectively. If an individual artist is used to making such decisions alone, becoming a member of a cooperative may not be a good experience.

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