Artist Residencies is the final installment of articles about partnership optimization for the building material reuse community. See the entire series here.
Reuse Centers: Ways to Optimize Partnerships Series
Art starts with raw materials and reuse centers are brimming with materials waiting to be reused. Thus, reuse centers are filled with unrealized art. What better way to showcase this potential than with an artist in residency? By sponsoring an artist to commit acts of creativity, reuse centers can show off inventory and potential use in unique ways. Recology is an artist in residency program at the Recology Solid Waste and Transfer Station in San Francisco, California. This program has sponsored over 100 artists since 1990. Artists have unlimited access to inventory and even studio space provided by the transfer station. Artists are required to speak to elementary school students and tour groups about using reclaimed materials and there is a two day gala event for the unveiling of the finished artwork.
There are unlimited ways to partner with artists. The key is to find a good balance between experience, education, and the deliverable product. Some residency programs require the artist to donate the end piece to a gallery for permanent display. Other organizations hold an auction for the final product and use the proceeds for funding purposes. The unveiling, gala, or celebration for art is an important event. Reuse centers are utilitarian by nature, so to express the value of a beautiful creation make sure the party is off site and fancy.
Fine art is one type of reuse possibility, but reuse centers that carry wood will benefit from craftspeople who make custom furniture. For many people the desirability of having a custom piece of furniture by an artist, is a chance to own an heirloom. Reclaimed wood from a local landmark or historical building that is crafted into furniture, is a functional piece of history. When done beautifully these pieces really are unique, valuable for both their craft and their connection to place and time.
Partnering with artists and craftspeople in residency programs can facilitate unlimited opportunities. The benefits of partnership include supporting local craftsmen and burgeoning artists, but also funding opportunities. Art organizations have loyal patrons because many people feel strongly about supporting the arts. Reuse centers are in the excellent position of supplying materials for art, but also education in both craft and reuse. An organization that combines collaboration with artists, providing education, environmental benefits, and supporting the local economy in jobs and goods, is a great investment for funders. In many cases a reuse center can adopt an arts program with little administrative or policy changes, and the value is limitless.
The Reclamation Administration is a great databank for reuse centers collaborative partnerships. There are a few that stand out as particularly successful models. Partnerships are an excellent way to get exposure, marketing, materials, and revenue, while supporting the local community.
Contact me if you are interested in learning more on collaborative partnerships for your reuse outlet.