Triangle ArtWorks invites artists of all disciplines to connect at SMASH! 2020 on Jan. 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. SMASH! is a networking event for the arts industry in the Triangle, allowing artists to express to others what they can offer and what they want.
"This is a night that you might meet somebody that has similar interests and spark a conversation and hopefully possible future collaborations with,” said Bill Gregory, a Triangle ArtWorks board member.
Tiffany Price Coley is a jewelry designer who has participated in SMASH! for the past couple of years. She said when she first started selling work she struggled with the entrepreneurial side of the art. SMASH! gave Coley the opportunity to make connections with experts on subjects involved in running a business.
“It's important because it gives you an opportunity to share ideas and share challenges and resources with other artists,” Coley said. “Oftentimes, many artists work in a space where they don't get a chance to work directly with other artists or creative professionals."
Gregory, who was an art instructor for 18 years, said he was never taught the legal, accounting or business aspects of art when he was in school. He became involved in Triangle ArtWorks to help his students find information about opening, running and being a part of the business that results from their art.
"What we're trying to do is bring together a pool of resources that everybody can use to keep the arts community thriving,” Gregory said.
SMASH! brings in not only artists, Gregory said, but also supporters of the arts from accounting, law and small business firms that offer advice.
Julie Williams Dixon, a volunteer photographer at SMASH! last year, said the event will not only help students make connections, but it will also motivate them and reinforce the idea that pursuing their passion is a good thing.
"At the event, there's just like a buzz, like an energy force moving through the whole event because people are so excited to have a chance to tell others what they're about and to potentially get funding or a place to show their work or whatever it is they're looking for,” Dixon said.
Dixon said it was extremely challenging to make connections for a career in the film business as a female with a degree in radio, television, and motion picture. She wishes there had been a resource like SMASH! when she was first starting out and said it could have changed the course of her life.
"There's just such a vibrant artist community here in the Triangle,” Dixon said. “This organization has done so much to promote that artists find a way to make a living because it's not easy to sustain yourself as an artist."
SMASH! inspired Dixon to write an essay called “The First Two Pages of the Rest of My Life.” In the essay, she discusses how she has heard the same advice about writing countless times, but it impacted her more strongly at the event. It sparked her into picking up a novel she has been writing that she hadn't touched in 25 years.
"Whenever you surround yourself with artists and people who have taken the risk and people who have gotten their work out there, you come away just lifted up and inspired,” Dixon said.
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