A group of seven local artists have joined forces to enhance the message of shopping local making this weekend one for holiday art sales.
“The idea was to build up the traffic already happening because of Small Business Saturday and other sales in downtown that would coincide,” said Joanne Kirves, longtime executive director of Arts Longmont, the arts-centered nonprofit that dissolved in 2019, and organizer of the virtual event set for Saturday and Sunday. “We are promoting artists through (Facebook and Instagram pages) to build awareness and direct people to artists that will have sales.”
What was originally scheduled to be an in-person holiday art pop-up to promote local artists at Tina Davis Studio in Longmont, was forced online because of rising COVID-19 cases, Kirves said.
“Originally, we planned to have artists (at the studio) all weekend so people could meet the artists and interact with them, people like to see the people who make the work,” she said. “Then as things started to get out of control, we realized it wasn't safe … as much as we want to do this, we really can't.”
As an artist, Kirves knows the challenges the coronavirus pandemic has created for those making art, so she stepped up to spearhead the event.
“With everything going on in 2020, artists are small businesses, too, and they got hit hard,” she said. “We want to get the work out and get people in to buy and support them.”Rachel Mitchell, local jewelry maker and small business owner, is one of the artists who will be part of the holiday art sale, recognizes the challenges of restricted community contact and event cancellations as a result of COVID.
“I always love to meet people, talk to them, see what their views are about my artwork,” she said. “Selling on the website you don't get that information, I like to connect with people and see what their views are, the connection is a big part of the work.”
COVID has made things difficult not just for artists but for everyone, she said, adding that she hopes the sales and discounts will encourage people to shop local.
“Because we are locked up (because of) COVID I thought of offering a 20% discount and local delivery for free to give to the community a little knockoff,” she said. “We all need that at this time when finances are kind of tied up and it’s hard to loosen the purse strings.”
Artists are among the workers most severely impacted by the pandemic, with 95% reporting a loss of income and 63% becoming fully unemployed, according to a recent research report by Americans for the Arts.
More than 60% of creatives have had to turn to online outlets or social media to sell their works since the pandemic has canceled nearly every opportunity for in-person sales, according to the report.
Mitchell encourages community members to seek out local art groups and artists, especially small businesses or independent creatives that may not yet have a website. “It’s pretty difficult, almost impossible in COVID times with people not gathering and having sales,” she said. “It’s very difficult for artists to get their works seen.”
More details about the sale are available at the Downtown Art Pop-Up Facebook page, which Kirves said will be updated with artist and art events throughout the holiday season.
“The more people understand what’s happening, the more opportunities people will have to shop,” she said. “Longmont is a unique town and part of its uniqueness is our downtown… the shops are unique, the architecture is unique, it gives flavor to our city, and when we support those artists they continue to stay here, to keep the creative process going.”