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Artists' fees yield rewards 

San Luis Obispo

I moved to San Luis Obispo County six years ago. One of the first events I attended was ARTS Obispo’s Open Studios Art Tour. This event gave me the opportunity to travel around our beautiful county and see the work of many talented, dedicated artists. Today I am honored to be the president of the board of directors for ARTS Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council. A commentary in New Times (“All aboard the art train,” March 19) expressed a concern that the cost for artists to participate in the Open Studios Tour is too high and I would like to give my personal opinion about that issue. 

The writer said that even with a lower fee the catalog printing costs could be covered. This ignores the fact that there are a multitude of additional costs involved in putting on an event of this magnitude. Last year more than 280 artists participated in the tour. Organizing that many entries takes many, many hours by the small but hard-working staff. There are posters and postcards to be printed, publicity and advertisements to be organized, a multimedia preview show and reception to put together, and many more things that cost both time and money. For their fee the artists get a full-color picture in the catalog, four images in the Online Visual Artists’ Directory with a link to their own website, publicity for their artwork (the tour has been featured in such publications as Sunset Magazine and Art Week), postcards and posters to send out to patrons, exposure for their artwork, opportunity to sell their work (and receive 100 percent of the proceeds), and other benefits too numerous to list.

Profits from the Open Studios Art Tour are used to fulfill ARTS Obispo’s mission of advancing the arts in San Luis Obispo County by increasing public access to the arts, creating opportunities for artists, and supporting arts education in our schools. For example, in March, ARTS Obispo sponsored Poetry Out Loud, which involved more than 1500 students in our local high schools, and in our ARTS Space Obispo exhibit space we had a show of the beautiful and moving work of 95-year-old photographer Joe Schwartz. Every day ARTS Obispo’s efforts touch the lives of the people in our community. I urge you to check us out: Volunteer to help with an event, become a member of the organization, or send a donation to help keep the arts alive in San Luis Obispo County.

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