A Letter To Tom Udall: Ideas for Growing the Vitality of NM Arts

Hello all! I’ve just learned about NM Senator Tom Udall’s work on a bill to benefit NM arts–the Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy Act, aka the CREATE Act. Information about the bill is available on Mr. Udall’s blog, here. 

I had a good time responding to his call for action by brainstorming ways to help us as NM artists make our businesses and communities even more vital by partnering with our City and State. 

When you dream of art projects with City or State support, what do you imagine?

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Thank you, Mr. Udall, for taking the arts seriously in an era in which infrastructure has been eroded and neglected for years. I am an Albuquerque painter. I am self-employed as an artist, making work for sale through my business, Counseling for Creatives LLC. I also work as a psychotherapist at a mental health agency. 

Following please find a host of ideas for ways in which NM State and NM cities could leverage their resources to create growth in the vitality of the arts here. 

A principle:
The City and State have large, staffed and funded media services. They can do a great deal for NM artists by promoting artists through these channels. Any promotion of an NM artist is promotion for the state in general. Associating the State with the excitement of new, vibrant art is a win for the State, for the artist’s business, and for our community in general. Require artists to compete for access to these channels? Absolutely. Require that artists provide their own marketing materials? Absolutely. 


Production: Waste Streams are Gold Mines for Artists 
Connect artists with the refuse of city functioning. When a building is torn down, give artists access, including time and with a liability waiver, to the dumpster full of construction materials produced, before it goes to the landfill. Announce this opportunity on city media, and publicize the artists who take advantage of it on city media with photographs and links to the artists’ media.
Or take a step further.
Invite artists to compete, via proposals, for ways to use the materials produced by large waste streams. For example, a truckfull of shredded paper could be used to make sculpture–a giant nest, a giant wig, the stuffing of a giant mattress–which could then be exhibited.

Partner with local galleries and local curators, including supplying them with stipends for their work, to show the results of these competitions. Publicize the whole process, from the jurying through production and exhibition, on city media.

Or a step further:
Open a new gallery in town, run and operated by the city, with funding for a paid curator. Have this gallery present the results

A step further: open a city-run ReStore, i.e. a warehouse for reclaimed materials, open to city contractors and to artists. Access to Deals
When the city purchases materials of any kind in large volume, offer access to the materials to Abq/NM artists at the rate the City secured.

Labor: Work Study for Artist’s Assistants
Abq and NM could offer established artists a matching grant for the employment of new artists. Further, the city and state could function as matchmakers between artists needing extra help and pools of new artists, such as those growing skills at Working Classroom.

Access to Tools
If the City or State has a workshop with complex production equipment, organize ways to let artists use them, and subsidize their work. CNC machines! Spray booths! Access to inexpensive xerox and offset printing!

Access to Storage
If the City or State has a storage facility, offer a small portion to competitive artists.

Marketing: Portfolio Site
The city produces media using illustrations and photographs on a daily basis. Stealing an idea from www.format.com and from print-on-demand sites like RedBubble, build a portfolio website in which Abq and NM artists can create and populate a web page of their illustration, photography, video and animation work. Encourage artists to thoroughly and accurately #hashtag their offerings. Employ Abq/NM designers and coders to produce this website. Then promote this service to City designers, and to design businesses creating media for the City–give them a discount if they use work from this service. Use the service as a platform to communicate opportunities for upcoming creative projects to the participating artists. Use the service as the portal through which these creatives submit proposals for such opportunities.

Marketing: Ask An Artist
Have State senators “ask an artist” for a creative solution to a problem they face, then publicize the results. Do this every day, with a rotating cast of players. It’d be a form of simple collaboration between government and the arts, and a way to take art seriously on a daily basis.


A principle: exhibitions and shows are equal parts marketing opportunity and money-making venture. In fact often they are more marketing than money.

Exhibitions in the Schools
Revive the ’60s and ’70s practice of paying artists to present performance content in the public schools. Organize and fund local, regional and national competitions for Visiting Artists. Work with schools to integrate these artists into the current curriculum. Pay artists not just to perform, but to teach in some way.
This practice was a huge part of the reason Postmodern Dance evolved in the early ’70s.

Organize one new festival in each city of more than 20000 people in NM. Music plus food plus infrastructure plus art equals opportunity for artists, vibrant life for the community, and tons of opportunity for publicity for all.

Customer Relationship Management

Organize mixers for the Chamber of Commerce and Artists. Organize networking luncheons for artists, for presenters, for curators.  

Using Format