Monday, August 30, 2010

Letter From the President

I hope everyone who showed their work at the Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival had a good show and even better sales, though I know some people did not. As I'm sure many already guessed, our sales were down this year. It is easy to explain it by saying it's the economy or maybe even World Cup! But I happen to think there are any factors at work when it comes to whether or not people buy at any given show, and the economy is just one factor.

Two weeks after Palo Alto, I did another show at Fort Mason called the Renegade Craft Fair. The Renegade Fair is a very different show from Palo Alto in that it highlights "indie craft and design," a term that is partially a code word for the next generation of young, emerging craftspeople and artists. Despite the differences between Palo Alto and Renegade, I couldn't help but compare certain aspects of the two shows. While Palo Alto caters to a sophisticated and educated buyer/collector, the Renegade largely brings in the 20 and 30-somethings, younger people who are just starting to establish homes and families, and are very interested in buying handmade and local.

The Renegade crowd doesn't have the big bucks that we see in Palo Alto, but what the two audiences have in common are a serious dedication to connecting to artists and learning to appreciate handcrafted items. It made me think about how many of our audience members at Palo Alto are getting older, and not as interested in collecting anymore as they retire and move into smaller homes and a different phase of life. Even many of our exhibiting members are getting older and to be frank, I do not see the next generation of clay and glass artists replacing them in our exhibiting membership. Where will that leave the ACGA in another 15 years?

As your "next generation" president, one of my interests is bringing in the next group of emerging artists and buyers to our association. But I can't do it by myself. Paying dues and showing up once at year at Palo Alto isn't enough to keep the ACGA relevant and interesting. I need members with ideas, energy, and a dedication to being active within our community. Come to a board meeting to pitch an idea, mentor a younger artist through the jury process, write an article for the newsletter. These are just a couple of things any member can do to keep the juices flowing, both for ourselves and our future. What do you think?