Proceeds from Palette Project shouldn’t have been used for Chamber expenses

Posted 9 November 2013 at 12:00 am


I am proud of our local artists who produced so much high quality art for the recent Palette Project organized by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce. The arts are a natural resource of an area and we are rich with talented artists. The arts should be cultivated and supported by the businesses.

In this case however, the artists are supporting the businesses. Artists were asked to paint palettes that would be auctioned off for a scholarship for young artists. Yet the stated goal of the project was to promote the businesses.

The Palette Project was modeled after the successful Palette Program in Keuka. But it was not structured like it. When they auction off the palettes in Keuka, the artists get 50 percent of the sale of their art and 50 percent goes to the scholarship program.

The businesses involved each pay $150 to support overhead of the Keuka project. In the local Chamber’s case, the operating expenses are being paid from the sale of artist’s work. What is left over goes to the scholarship.

Operating expenses include salaries and mileage for those who worked on it, supplies, the reception, printing and advertising. Why are the artists are paying for that? Isn’t it the purpose of the Chamber to promote businesses?

Generally speaking, artists are generous and support causes. But when asking artists to donate to your cause, whatever it may be, please consider their value. Offering them free publicity alone is not sufficient for most artists. That doesn’t show you place a value on their work.

It’s called “artwork” for a reason. Artists aren’t magicians who wiggle their noses and a painting, a sculpture or a song suddenly appears. Many have spent a fortune on education. All have spent a significant amount of their lives training themselves. They often put their whole heart and soul into their art with no guarantee of success or financial gain. Is there any other profession where you would suggest free publicity in exchange for work?

If $1,250 was raised from the sale (that’s the amount set aside for art scholarships in Orleans) our artists’ work averages out to $18 per palette. Not much value there.

An artist may have spent many hours or days working on the palette. The artists were asked to donate art for a scholarship for young artists and I would like to see ALL sales of the art work go directly to the scholarships. Let the artists support the artists.

Arthur Barnes

(Barnes is a local artist and former Executive Director of the Orleans County Council on the Arts.)