Developing Market Opportunities
The Montana Arts Council (MAC) is the state agency that was established to develop the creative potential of people and communities across Montana, and to advance education, economic vibrancy, and community revitalization through the arts. MAC used LINC support to develop and expand its Artists to Market program, a three-part course designed to help visual and craft artists in rural and Native American communities increase their earned income.
The Montana Artrepreneur Program (MAP) has provided 40 hours of training for cohorts of up to 20 artists in regions throughout the state. Program participants develop a market-ready portfolio by completing an “Artrepreneur’s Toolbox,” resulting in a portfolio and e-portfolio, business plan, résumé, and other professional materials. Each participant’s marketing portfolio is reviewed by a jury, which qualifies him or her for “market-ready” certification. The artists who achieve this certification are then provided with a set of market opportunities, including trips to out-of-state markets and galleries, mentorships, and other business connections.
To extend the impact of this program, MAC also supports a coach training program that equips the certified artists to train other artists across the state. These regional networks diminish the isolation that many rural artists find a challenge to both their creative work and market success. With LINC’s support, the Artists to Market program has reached more than 100 artists and enabled them to develop sustainable businesses. Supporting visual, crafts, and textile artists, this comprehensive initiative was one of few arts-based programs to attract support from the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Community Development Initiative.
LINC’s support gave MAC ”the flexibility and endorsement to change and adjust to rural needs and demands and support small clusters of creative people to effect change—this lies at the core of our success,” said Cinda Holt, Business Development Specialist at MAC. “This rich environment of learning and validation will continue to feed our artists and our agency.”