Business 101 Training for Folk and Traditional Artists

Business 101 Training for Folk and Traditional Artists

New York Folklore is offering a series of workshops related to teaching business and marketing skills to folk artists.

This virtual series is open to twelve individuals/traditional artists and will involve online webinars conducted through Zoom. Each webinar will take place over a 2-hour time slot for a total of 8 hours of “classroom” instruction with Karen Berelowitz, of Karmabee.  This introductory webinar will be held on four Tuesdays in July 2020: July 7, 14, 21, 28, from 4 – 6 p.m.

The series will be offered free of charge. Entry is by application. Artists must commit to the totality of the series, with those completing the entire series to be guaranteed an honorarium of $250.00  plus an opportunity to showcase your work– either online or at the New York Folklore Gallery in Schenectady.

About The Instructor:

Karen Berelowitz of Karmabee has taught this series in the Hudson Valley, including twice at Arts Mid-Hudson. A native of South Africa, Karen developed her small art business over the past decade, selling at crafts fairs, on, and at local stores. In 2011, she opened my own studio and store in the historic waterfront Rondout district of Kingston, NY, where she also sold handmade items by local artists and craftspersons. In 2016 she closed the store but continues to operate Karmabee from her home studio.

The instructional schedule is as follows:

  1. July 7, 2020        Developing Your Brand
  2. July 14, 2020      Marketing and Social Media, Part I
  3. July 21, 2020      Marketing and Social Media, Part II and Valuing Your Expertise
  4. July 28, 2020      Business Requirements, Taxes, and Record-Keeping

After the initial series of general business and marketing practices, participants can choose to continue, selecting specialized training in three specific tracks. Artists can choose to take any combination of two sessions for a total of three hours, as each additional session is offered in 1.5-hour segments. Attendance for the topic areas will be capped at 6 per session. If there is overwhelming interest, an additional session will be added.

Specialized Training:

  • A. Resources for material culture or culinary/foodways artists.  How to use online platforms such as Etsy,  working with crafts fairs, selling to stores, pricing your goods, sourcing materials, showing your work. Instructor: Karen Berelowitz.

Section A will be held for two additional Tuesdays: August 4 and 11: 4:30 – 6 p.m.

  • B. Resources for performing artists.  Assessing virtual and live platforms for performing, generating income opportunities through ticket sales vs. asking a set fee vs. a virtual tip jar, effective marketing for bookings, how to manage merchandise sales during and after performances, working in “non-traditional” venues (libraries, museums, schools, historical societies), how to plan a concert (house concerts vs coffee house vs concert hall), and more. Instructor: Dave Ruch

Section B will be held for two Wednesdays: August 5 and 12: 3 – 5 p.m.

  • C. Resources for teaching artists.  Working within classroom settings (virtual or in-person), strategies for self-presentation, making curriculum connections. Instructor: Lisa Rathje of Local Learning: the National Network for Folk Arts in Education

Section 3 will be held for two days the first week in August:  Monday, August 3 and Thursday, August 6.  3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

The Opportunity Stipend:

At the end of the 6 week series, the participants will request support for an opportunity, for which they will receive a $250.00 honorarium.  Examples of the final funded opportunity could be a gallery showing (virtual or live), a presentation of some aspect of your work, a concert (virtual or live), or support towards placing work on a platform such as Etsy.

For further information, please contact Elinor Levy at [email protected] or call New York Folklore at 518-346-7008 and speak to Ellen McHale, Executive Director.

To register for the series, click here:  Register

This professional development opportunity is supported through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts, with support from Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York Folklore, Equity, and the Black Lives Matter Movement

New York Folklore, Equity, and the Black Lives Matter Movement

New York Folklore was founded in 1944 with the strong belief in cultural equity and the importance of the participation and involvement of diverse individuals to make an inclusive society in America. The recognition and appreciation of folklore and folklife draws attention to the grassroots artistic expressions of all people, particularly those who have been “othered,” marginalized, and exiled. As an organization, we recognize that systemic racism and long-standing histories of inequality and violence towards persons of color continues to shape the life experiences of all New York’s residents. All, not some, or a few, or them. Us. All of us.

In the past months and years, we have witnessed horrific injustices in this country and state, including the New York-based murders of Amadou Diallo and Eric Garner, and the most recent killing of Minnesota resident, George Floyd, at the hands of the police.  These are not isolated instances, but are part of a long history of systematic, structurally emboldened violence against people of color in the United States that both pre-dates and includes the enslavement of Africans and African-Americans and continues today in the expression of economic inequalities, institutionalized white privilege,  white supremacy, and rampant violence.  It is apparent in the disproportionate numbers of persons of color dying from COVID-19, a criminal justice system that incarcerates Black men at an alarming rate, and ongoing racial quotas and discrimination within our immigration system.

At this moment in New York Folklore’s 75 year history, we re-affirm our founding principles espousing the worth of a diverse state and nation and confirm that we will continue to work to be an integral part of the societal change that will alleviate institutionalized racism and promote equal rights and equal access to cultural and economic prosperity.  This will be accomplished in the following ways:

  1. Continue to work towards diverse leadership (board and staff) that represents the geography, population demographics, and cultural groups of New York State.
  2. Continue to provide professional development and technical assistance to all persons in New York State and to assist with the acquisition of skills to help move people into leadership positions.
  3. Acknowledge the importance of cultural knowledge and expertise held by community scholars, and recognize the importance of lived community experience to be equal in value to university training.
  4. As much as possible, partner and share leadership with community organizations.

Signed, the board and staff of New York Folklore:

Thomas van Buren, President

Kay Turner, Vice-President

Mira C Johnson, Secretary

John Braungard, Treasurer

James Hall, member

Gamileh Jamil, member

Maria Kennedy, member

Wilfredo Morel, member

Naomi Sturm-Wijesinghe, member

Julie Tay, member

Staff:  Ellen McHale, Executive Director

Laurie Longfield, Gallery Manager

Elinor Levy, Mentoring and Professional Development

New York State Folklore Covid-19 Relief Fund

New York State Folklore Covid-19 Relief Fund

New York Folklore is raising money to benefit the “New York State Folklore Covid-19 Relief Fund.”  Your donations will make an impact. We hope to raise $10,000 by June 1, 2020 to assist folk and traditional artists with emergency grants.

The Initiative:

With the money raised, New York Folklore is awarding one-time grants of up to $500 to New York State’s  folk, traditional and community-based artists impacted by Covid-19.  Grants will help with specific short term financial needs (food, assistance with medical bills, rent, etc). This initiative is for all New York State residents and is an expansion of the New York City-based Folk Artists Covid-19 Relief Fund by The Center for Arts, Tradition, and Cultural Heritage (C.A.T.C.H.).  C.A.T.C.H.  has already raised significant funds and is now opening the application phase of their New York City-based initiative. Information on the New York City initiative for Covid-19 Relief can be found below.

Please join me today by donating to our emergency fund. Donate HERE

The Need:

Folk and traditional artists are some of the individuals who have been most financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing.  While folk and traditional artists do not usually rely upon their art as their sole means of support, folk and traditional artists have experienced economic hardship due to the cancellation of community and public events, as well as the loss of revenue from art sales. In many cases, this loss is in addition to the loss of their primary income through restaurant and retail closings, furlough, etc. – which causes a two-fold impact on many artists’ livelihoods. Those tradition bearers who reflect already economically marginalized communities – Native communities, immigrants, and refugee communities – may not be in line for assistance by other Covid-19 relief funds.  Our fund will specifically target artists from marginalized and at-risk communities.

For emergency funding specific to New York City, follow this link:

May 2020: 20 Folk Artists/20 Days

May 2020: 20 Folk Artists/20 Days

On May 1, 2020, New York Folklore and folklore programs across New York State will launch a collaboration to present traditional arts and culture from throughout New York State. Each weekday in May, from 4:00 -4:30 p.m., traditional arts activities will be presented through a livestream from New York Folklore’s Facebook page:

“May 2020: 20 Folk Artists/20 Days” amplifies the artistic excellence found within New York’s communities. To view this daily initiative, simply tune in to New York Folklore’s Facebook page each weekday in May from 4:00 – 4:30 p.m. to experience a free, live-streamed event by one of New York State’s folk artists or tradition bearers.

The initiative showcases the artistic excellence and diversity of traditional arts and culture in New York State. Folk arts and cultural expressions are nurtured and perpetuated within communities. They are shared by those who have common regional affiliations, ethnic heritage, occupations, avocational interests, gender, and many other identifiers of interconnection. Artistic excellence is determined by a shared community aesthetic with innovation occurring within the bounds of the interests and concerns of the shared community.

Partners:  Coordinating and partnering organizations from throughout New York State include the following:   New York State Fiddlers Hall of Fame, Glow Traditions, Long Island Traditions, Los Pleneros de la 21, Arts Mid-Hudson, Brooklyn Arts Council, Arts Westchester, Center for Traditional Music and Dance, Rochester Institute of Technology, and The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE). Presenting folklorists and cultural scholars include Karen Canning, Andrew Cowell, Hannah Davis, Julia Gutíerrez-Rivera, Elinor Levy, Jorge Arévalo Mateus, Ellen McHale, Chris Mulé, Aaron Paige, Naomi Sturm-Wijesinghe, Emily Socolov, Valerie Walawender, and Christine Zinni.

Altered States of Place

Altered States of Place

The “places” that are important to us are currently in a state of re-definition.  As we experience social distancing to address the Covid-19 pandemic, our work spaces and our personal spaces are now one and the same.  My kitchen table – that place where pies are fashioned and family dinners are shared – is now a two-person office replete with dueling laptop computers.  The separation of work and personal – that idea of work/life balance – has been upended as our working lives and personal lives have become more closely intertwined.  In many ways, we have returned to that pre-industrial, agricultural past, when families toiled together within the home space towards the shared goal of family economic stability.  Like the farming community that surrounds me, my waking hours are no longer regulated by the ringing of an alarm clock but rather by the rays of sunlight that come through my window in the morning.

It is important for people to develop a sense of place.  We situate ourselves within the natural and social worlds and we form our identities through the intersections that we find there.   “Place” informs us.  It shapes our culture and our sense of being.  We belong to places and we fashion our identities through the places that we inhabit.

As we struggle to reshape the everyday, our places are shown into sharper focus.  When we return to what is “normalcy” – and that moment will come- we need to keep our heightened awareness of ourselves in situ.  What have we noticed about our places and what about our places sustained us?  For me, I will want to retain the calm that comes through a road without traffic, the ability to hop up from where I am sitting to take a hike through the nearby nature preserve, and the connections I feel to my family and neighbors who are similarly impacted by our social distancing.  We need to remember this moment so that when we return to our places of work, we bring our place-based sensibilities with us.