As an engineer, when I decided to join an artist community, at first I thought that finding one may not be that easy, especially since I wasn’t already plugged into the local artist scene. It’s not like they post flyers around advertising for people who aren’t active artists to join.
Actually sometimes they do. And that’s the first sign of a great artist community to join.
If you’re looking for a creative community as someone who doesn’t actively practice art, the first place to look are for flyers, handbills, and other forms of advertisements in-person and online that are geared towards bringing in a larger crowd. If the only way to join a community is through a friend or someone who knows someone, then it’s probably too exclusive and too focused on keeping a small group of artists connected to be of value. There’s nothing wrong with this type of community, but be prepared to feel awkward and out of place as a if you’re not someone who sells their soul to the studio.
Organizations that are looking to grow, on the other hand, are much more accommodating and understand the importance of getting the local community involved, regardless of their artistic background.
After attending your first gathering, the next step in your evaluation is to reflect on how the event felt for you. A big part of a great artist community is the level of interaction that you will have with the art itself, as well as with other members.
Some artist communities are focused on a specific type of art (dance, singing, writing, painting, etc.), while others are more generalists. Regardless of the focus, you should feel comfortable joining in on the fun. If there was painting or drawing involved, did you get an chance to contribute? If there was a writing workshop, did you write and was there the option to have your thoughts heard? If it was a performance or show, was there time for you to give feedback?
If the answer is ‘No’, then this may not be the community for you. Even if you didn’t use the first meeting to actively participate, the opportunity to be involved is what’s important. A great artist community is welcoming of all skill levels and interests, and should be designed to be accommodating and encourage participation.
Finally, an artist community should (gently) encourage you to grow and become more involved as an artist and as a community member. The best way to grow as an artist is to actively work within crafting your art. If you’re not an artist that might seem counterintuitive, but if you’re looking to join a creativecommunity, then there’s some part of you that is intrigued by art and probably wants to be involved in some way. Community members will often sense this and find ways to expose you to tons of different ideas in an effort to find that element that you enjoy.
If after the a few months of attending meetings, you find yourself pretty much where you started, then maybe it’s time to push yourself try something new, and ask for encouragement by a member or two. The great communities will always have members who will be there to assist you.
Miranda’s Hearth is a prime example of how an artist community can demonstrate their openness in these areas. From the minute you meet someone encouraging you to stop by, to your first meeting where all skill levels are welcome, to the growth you experience by being around artists helping you grow, you’ll find that whatever your background, your interests are respected and appreciated.
If you’re not located in the Boston area, there are plenty of other communities that are structured in a similar way. For the great artist communities, finding them shouldn’t be that hard, just look around for a friendly invitation and dive in.