(This is a repost from August 2014 – because I’m still doing this and loving it! How about you?)
I give it away. I’m more than cheap and easy…I’m free. Sorry, Mom, probably not what you wanted to hear.
I volunteer… a lot.
Wednesday I offered to help a friend install his first solo show. After arriving and finding there was considerable framing to do, I realized what I thought would be a 3-hour job was going to take all day. It was a 7-hour affair… and I was so grateful.
It might help if you had a little back-story. In the “olden days,” when I limped off the corporate battlefield several years ago, I realized I didn’t know the art industry as thoroughly as I’d hoped. Since I yearned for a well-rounded education, I volunteered – doing everything I could – so I could learn the business inside and out. Rather than enroll in more college courses, I’d earn this education with sweat, sore muscles and the uncertainty of new experiences.
- I installed numerous shows – which eventually led to some curating.
- I wrote press releases.
- I helped with judging shows – mostly carrying clipboards, counting pieces and keeping my opinion to myself!
- I did a lot of marketing work.
- I put together teams of artists for special projects.
- I took down exhibits – big ones, small ones, all kinds, all places.
- I worked in the museum gift store, helped with museum evaluations and cleaned boogers off the walls in the kids’ wing.
- I taught kids to paint watercolour in the park.
- I painted walls, scrapped gunk, assisted where ever and whenever I could. And I learned so much more than art. (click to Tweet)
I never realized how many wonderful people I’d meet, how many solid relationships would be built, how much I could be appreciated or how much I’d appreciate others. I never knew the treasures I would find when I first said, “I’ll help you.” I’ve had the opportunity to work with smart, accomplished, people.
In helping others, I’ve helped myself beyond anything I could’ve imagined. (click to Tweet)
Besides being an extra pair of hands, I’ve made connections and created opportunities for myself, and for others. Through giving of my time and efforts, I’ve learned a lot about the arts, the art industry, my community and myself. It’s been a priceless education. What’s more, I find if I keep giving, it keeps giving. Wednesday, after my nearly 8 hours of “installation” I walked away feeling full and blessed.
I received the priceless gifts of connection, of camaraderie, of finding my tribe. These are the things I’ve been given by giving. (click to Tweet)
If it’s been a while for you, if you haven’t rolled up your sleeves lately, consider doing something to help your arts community. It has its own rewards. Be cheap and easy…it’s fun…and your mother will probably, eventually, be proud.
Some local places to volunteer:
Keep Givin’ It Away!
Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. Contact her for a gentle hand holding or a good ass-kicking.
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