On the Needs of Visual Artists

A Roundtable 2001

Amy Newman, author/editor
Reviewed by Pamela Gregg, Flintridge Foundation

2002, 100 pages. The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation and the Judith Rothschild Foundation, 830 North Tejon St., Suite 120, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, (719) 635-3220, www.sharpeartfdn.org

Even if a funder doesn't support individual artists or the visual arts, On the Needs of Visual Artists: A Roundtable 2001 is a must-read and worth the time to explore. As its accompanying press release states, this publication "is a record of artists' conversations, thoughts and suggestions. It reveals not only a lively conversation between engaged and concerned artists but also a portrait of the state of mind of artists across the country." Released in February 2003, this book captures a roundtable discussion that took place in early 2001 among thirty-three artists from around the country. The roundtable was organized by the Artists Advisory Committee of the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, which co-sponsored the session with the Judith Rothschild Foundation. On the Needs of Visual Artists is the latest offering from the ongoing conversation and collaboration between the Sharpe Foundation and its artists committee. Together they have developed some important programs, convenings, and publications dedicated to individual visual artists ... commissioned music as a way of celebrating a special occasion or anniversary. Others wanted to maximize the experience in specific ways. The San Francisco venture capitalist Kathryn Gould's Magnum Opus project, for instance, involves nine composers and three orchestras that agreed to perform all nine new works. In some cases, the individuals pursued their projects through existing relationships with musicians and composers. In at least one instance Meet the Composer facilitated the choice of composer and performer, as well as the mechanics of commissioning.

In a coda following the eight chapters of human interest stories, Meet the Composer addresses typical questions that a person contemplating a commissioning project might ask, and provides general guidelines about the cost of commissioning various forms of music.

This slim volume is attractively presented and is a pleasure to read. By directing it to the public at large, Meet the Composer not only brings attention to its own programs and services. More importantly, it makes a convincing case that involvement with new music is not an esoteric experience reserved for enlightened institutions, but an enjoyable adventure for musically curious individuals.

An Individual's Guide to Commissioning Music can be obtained free of charge by contacting Meet the Composer.