If you’re like me, you receive solicitations from nonprofit organizations every week. I consign most of them to the trash immediately because I know the organizations spend a huge percentage of contributions on themselves ― for salaries and marketing. Others I support in various ways, by donating cash or items to sell in thrift stores, volunteering, and/or buying a membership.
The nonprofit Galveston Art League receives my financial support and many volunteer hours. My bit of assistance supports the all-volunteer organization, which for 104 years has promoted visual arts and art education in Galveston County and the surrounding region. That mission is crucial today, given that most public schools offer a minuscule art curriculum.
One big incentive for me is that I like living in an area with a thriving arts presence. The league operates galleries at 611 6th St. N. in Texas City and 2117A Postoffice St. in Galveston, and both galleries give exposure to the works of regional artists.
I also applaud the organization’s modest budget. It advertises minimally; volunteers serve as sales staff at the galleries; volunteers, not an ad agency, create marketing materials; volunteers greet guests at galleries during ArtWalks. In other words, volunteers do practically everything. There are no paid staff members.
League membership fees support the organization and represent a worthwhile investment, not only for the community and its current member artists, but also for you. Because membership has its privileges.
For instance, members are invited to preview parties to meet artists and see (and purchase from) new gallery exhibits with no crowding and at a leisurely pace, if desired.
Another benefit: Members learn about the league’s low-cost workshops for beginning to advanced students via email ― just an occasional notice, no inbox-jamming. This means that members don’t need to keep checking www.GalvestonArtLeague.com or local newspapers in hopes of stumbling onto a workshop. (Incidentally, the next one, on Nov. 17, is typical: Award-winning painter and longtime art teacher Jackie Liddell will present a five-hour watercolor workshop to 10 to 16 participants, and the cost is only $40 per person.)
But that’s not all: Member artists who volunteer in a wide range of activities (see above) for six hours every two months receive half off the fees to enter six annual Galveston Art League juried competitions (three at the Texas City gallery, three at the Galveston gallery) and 18 member shows (nine at each gallery per year). And when members sell the work they've displayed, the league’s 20 percent commission is considerably less than what most galleries charge.
Artists with a professional-level membership also can apply to be Featured Artist of the Month, a Galveston gallery program that provides extensive display space, usually enough to display a dozen pieces.
In addition, the Galveston Art League maintains a notebook containing artists’ bios and business cards at each gallery. This gives visitors ― potential buyers ― an easy way to see more examples of the artist's work and contact the artist about commissioned works.
All members receive The Newsbrush, the Galveston Art League’s quarterly electronic newsletter. It’s filled with news about members, opportunities, tips, and future and past events, and it’s loaded with photos.
The Galveston Art League invites you to support visual arts and enjoy the perks of membership at one of these five levels:
1. Student ― $10 (College students need at least nine full-time semester hours and a valid student ID.)
2. Individual ― $35.
3. Family ― $40.
4. Professional ― $75 (This membership level includes regular benefits plus the option to submit Featured Artist proposals along with space on www.GalvestonArtLeague.com for a bio, a photo of work, and a link to the professional member's website.)
5. Professional Family ― $80. (This extends the benefits of item 4 to the family in one household.)
To join or learn more, visit www.GalvestonArtLeague.com/join.html or email firstname.lastname@example.org.