In early November 2019, the regional Economic Development departments hosted a Thriving Arts Exchange. This insightful three-day event, facilitated by the Clark Hulings Fund, examined the state of the Rappahannock region’s art economy and discussed ways to design a collaborative blueprint to enhance the region’s art ecosystem.

The first day of the conference included multiple focus group activities and initiated a dynamic discussion between 40 artists and various regional stakeholders. This conversation completed three tasks: envisioning an ideal art ecosystem in the next 7 years for the region, identifying both enabling and restraining forces, and generating ideas for a collaborative cross-regional support structure to achieve the optimal goal of a thriving arts ecosystem. Fundamentally, the exchange created a list of suggested steps which were reduced to three basic areas to address: tourism marketing, governmental support, and small business skills development to strengthen artists.

Artists were the targeted audience for the following two-day workshop which included various dynamic presentations and a combination of individual and group activities. These strategical lessons provided a fresh creative perspective on the skillsets and characteristics needed for artists to successfully make and sell art. Artists learned how to focus on and to brand their business by developing: goal and milestone settings, intelligent networking, targeted marketing, and brand narratives. This informative event inspired artists to create their own list of individual ways to move their art business forward.

Ultimately, the combined event interactions and initiatives will aid further discussions among stakeholders to embrace the overarching goal of sustaining a thriving regional arts community. To advance these collaborative efforts and essential dialogues, RappArts plans to be a major communication conduit for the region’s arts community. RappArts will be holding quarterly gatherings of artists and other interested parties to continue this conversation and to develop plans and programs to facilitate greater regional communication not only in the arts community but also in the business and governmental arenas as well.

RappArts will be shaping the programs for these ongoing gatherings based on the discussion from the Soup’s On gathering on January 11, 2020. Our next gathering for the arts community will be Sunday April 19, 2020 from 2.30 to 4.30 in the Theater at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, Fredericksburg Branch. The next date we will meet is Thursday, June 18, 2020 will also be the annual meeting for RappArts during which the organization’ plans for the next fiscal year will be outlined. At this time, another meeting for 2020 is expected to be scheduled for some time in October. Stay tuned for further details!
Anyone who would like to volunteer to be involved with this continuing conversation, please contact us.