Starting an art society is a wonderful way to bring together individuals who share a passion for art and to create a supportive and collaborative community that can help members to grow and develop their skills.
Having experience in running art societies, I thought it may be helpful to share some of my knowledge for those who are considering a start up.
Art Society Purpose & Goals
To start an art society, it’s important to first identify the purpose and goals of the society.
Will it be a place for members to share their artwork, discuss techniques and styles, or organize events and exhibitions?
Once the purpose is established, it’s essential to recruit members who share the same passion and vision for the society.
This can be done through advertising on social media, local art groups, or even through word of mouth.
Another important consideration when starting an art society is to have a clear plan of action.
This includes setting goals, outlining the structure of the society, and establishing a budget.
For example, the society may need to plan for exhibition spaces or invest in supplies for workshops and classes. It’s also important to establish a system for communication and collaboration among members, such as regular meetings, online forums, or even a shared workspace.
An art society can also play an important role in promoting art and culture within the community.
This can be done through organising exhibitions, workshops, and events that showcase the talents and skills of its members.
By collaborating with local businesses and organisations, an art society can help to create a vibrant and creative community that values art and its importance in our lives.
In addition to providing a place for members to connect with each other, an art society can also be a valuable resource for learning and personal growth.
By bringing together individuals with different backgrounds and experiences, an art society can help members to learn new skills, explore different styles and techniques, and be inspired by the creative spirit of others.
Finding Members for your Art Society
The first step in starting an art society is to find members.
You can start by reaching out to friends, family, and colleagues who you know are passionate about art.
You can also create flyers and post them in local art shops, libraries, and community centers.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can also be a great way to reach out to potential members. Make sure to include information about the art society’s goals, meeting times, and contact details.
Consider contacting your local council offices. They may have contacts that can help you network creative groups giving you access to new members and possible grant funding.
An excellent way of finding and attracting members is to put on a display of your art and promote the society.
The ideal location needs to have an existing attraction that generates footfall and perhaps has a target audience which you can utilise to generate interest for your group.
If you live in a larger town or city that benefits from having a shopping centre or market square, why not approach the management or organisers to explore the use of a community space.
Many councils or commercial shopping centres are happy to offer you use of community spaces for free as it attracts members of the public into their commercial spaces.
Setting Goals and Objectives
Once you have members, the next step is to set goals and objectives for your art society.
Are you focused on a specific art form, or are you interested in exploring different types of art? Will you be organizing exhibitions or workshops? Will you be inviting artists to speak to your members?
These are some of the questions you need to answer when setting your goals and objectives. It is essential to have a clear direction for your art society to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Input from all the founder members on the societies goals and objectives is important. This ensures a fair and broad view and will make the society more appealing to a wider audience.
A written constitution is an important essential document for any society. It may include the following in detail:
- The full name of the Society
- Objectives of the Society for example promoting art to the community, appreciation of the arts or to provide access to art teaching and workshops
- Powers of the society for pursuit and fulfilment of the society’s objectives
- Membership types, application process, numbers and system for setting annual fees and amounts for subscriptions
- Key Officers that are required to allow the society to function. Financial institutions such as banks will require a President or Chairman, a Secretary and a Treasurer as a minimum.
- Details of committee member positions and the relevant duties including key officers. Details on how committee members are elected and any minimum terms in office.
- Details of the financial year and methods of accounting
- General meetings
- Winding up of the society and remaining assets
- Data protection
Organising Meetings and Events
Organising meetings and events is a critical part of running an art society.
You need to decide on a suitable meeting place and time that works for everyone.
It is also important to plan events that align with your art society’s objectives. For example, if your society is focused on painting, you may want to organize painting workshops or invite a professional painter to speak about their work. You can also organize exhibitions to showcase your members’ work and invite the public to attend.
Your committee will need a broad skill set to function effectively. Ideally Committee members will have experienced in the area they are responsible for. For example the Treasurer could be/have been an Accountant or Bookkeeper.
It helps for each committee members role to have a duties and responsibilities list.
This is particularly important as the society grows and the necessity for sub committees are required.
Exhibition committees are a good example where duties need to be clearly identified and allocated to specific committee members.
Art Society – My experiences
Supporting a community art group can be very satisfying especially when you are actively obtaining new members to take up such a fabulous activity.
There is however one very important ingredient and that is having willing members and volunteers with the relevant skill sets to actively run the Society.
For many years in various committee roles I helped run an art society local to where I live. The overwhelming problem was that many of the members were either unwilling to participate in managing the Society, or some of those that were willing did not have the relevant skills to do so. This sadly led to the closure of the Society as many of the duties were being carried by less than a handful of committee members.
As a comparison, I try and support the local art society in Stratford Upon Avon as Treasurer. The Society is fortunate to have a very talented and willing committtee who provide a wealth of activities for it’s members and has been in existence for more than 60 years.
Starting an art society is an excellent way to bring together people with a passion for art. Finding members, setting goals and objectives, and organizing meetings and events are critical to the success of the society.
There is a significant amount of work in running a successful art society.
The committee and its members will need to volunteer numerous hours to grow the society and be prepared to learn new skills in addition to their interest in art.
Without willing volunteers who are able to commit time and effort, an art society will struggle to provide its goals and fail.
But despite all this, remember to have fun and enjoy the creative process and being part of a community group.
Jackie Kirby is currently Trustee & Treasurer for AIR (Arts In Redditch), and Treasurer for the Stratford Upon Avon Art Society. Until it’s closure during the pandemic she was also an active and key committee member for the Redditch Art Circle.