How To Use Tourism to Attract Art Buyers
Hello, Dr. Maisel: I live in a place where a lot of tourists come and I have the idea of maybe connecting with them better but I don’t know what to do. Any ideas? – Ronald L., Santa F
Thank you, Ronald. Artists know better than anyone that places hold meaning. That’s why they hunger for Paris, Berlin, San Francisco, Greenwich Village, and the other stops, small and large, on the International Bohemian Highway. They contrive to spend a year in London or Tokyo because those places hold special meaning. Yet most artists do not consider that the visitors who come to where they live are also hungry, also hoping to be stirred, and also looking for an experience that has nothing to do with room service breakfasts and garish souvenirs.
Because so many artists are in survival mode, struggling to make ends meet, because they are squirreled away in their studios painting, writing, or practicing their instruments, because, like everyone, they are over-busy and over-anxious, and because they tend not to think about the visitors to their community as potential audience members, they rarely connect with these fellow human beings who are themselves looking for some meaning. This is a shame, as visitors are primed and ready. It will pay artists who live in locations that attract visitors – that attract tourists, conventioneers, and people passing through—to pay some new and special attention to these readily available and always changing audience members.
How can the artists who live in a given place increase their connection to the visitors who come to that place? You live in your neighborhood, possibly far from the tourist haunts; across town, a million annual visitors pass through your city taking in the customary sites. They know that they must visit museums, three churches, and that famous shopping street—but what else? Is there a way for you to become that “what else?” Is there a way for you to make some useful contact with these visitors, contact that serves both of your ends?
First of all, who would have a say in making such contact happen? Naturally, you, the artist, would have the first say. Unless narrowing the gap that currently exists between you and the people who visit your locale interests you, nothing will happen. That opportunity falls squarely on your shoulders. Visitors, too, will have their say: if they do not show up at the event you plan, if they show up but leave immediately, or if they show up and stay but feel no connection to what you are offering, not much will have changed. This is the age-old dynamic: the artist not only must make a Herculean effort to create but must also seduce or convince her audience to pay attention to what she is offering.