MakeWork grants help Chattanooga artists start businesses

MakeWork grants help Chattanooga artists start businesses

September 27th, 2012 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Anderson Bailey is one of 15 Chattanooga artists who received about $7,000 each from MakeWork, a privately-funded non-profit dedicated to supporting the city's creative community.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Grant recipients, 2012:

Anderson & Jessie Bailey - Ceramics

Sybil Baker - Literature

Kevin Bate - Painting

Mark Bradley-Shoup - Painting

Matt Fields-Johnson - Film

Tim Hinck - Performance Art

Lakshmi Luthra - Installation Art

Stephen Nichols - Music Production

Greg Pond - New Media

Jennifer Rubin - Sculpture

David Ruiz - Photography

Paul Rustand - Printmaking

Eric Smith - Blacksmith

Tiffany Taylor - Songwriting

With his bare hands, Anderson Bailey roughly squeezes a spinning ball of grey muck. After he shapes, carves and cooks the blob, someone buys it.

This is how Bailey makes his living - selling handmade ceramic plates, saucers and bowls. The problem, if it can be called that, is that each piece takes time to painstakingly create.

Right now, he can't make enough to meet demand. But that's going to change.

Bailey is one of 15 Chattanooga artists who received about $7,000 each from MakeWork, a privately-funded non-profit dedicated to supporting the city's creative community.

The Chattanooga-based potter will use the capital to mass-produce his most popular pieces and sell them online and through regional wholesalers.

"The big idea is for this to be kind of a catalyst to get the new product line started," Bailey said.

The money could help Bailey and others expand their already-successful business, and mark a turning point for those who need the cash to launch their first big exhibition, said Kate Creason, program director for MakeWork.

"Without this seed funding they're not able to spend money on marketing and branding," Creason said. "This will allow them to progress and take their career to the next level."

MakeWork has awarded over $755,000 in grants to 101 artists since 2008, and awarded $100,000 in 2012 alone, Creason said.

While the money can temporarily boost a business, it can't teach accounting, marketing and other business skills - skills that are necessary for the long-term success of any company.

To remedy this, MakeWork will offer crash courses in marketing and budgeting to help artists create a self-sustaining business, Creason said.

Even for an eight-year veteran artist like Stephen Nicols, a little bit of training can go a long way.

"That was part of my desire to get involved with this group," the music producer said on Monday. "It's always good to have new ideas."

Those new ideas will be on display this fall, when MakeWork will supply venues for artists to display their work around the city.

Not all of the art will be statues and murals, however. Some displays will appeal to the ear, while others could be as abstract as an unexpected light display, Creason said.

"We're going to have sculptures, light projection and soundscapes all over town," she said.

Composer Tim Hinck is set to create a stir with his performance, which will mix actors, projection lighting and dance with live and recorded music in a non-narrative stage performance.

Hinck, who describes himself as "basically a composer," is calling the show a visual and sonic essay that will resemble experimental theatre.

"It's the first project I've ever done where all the funding is available up front, and I can focus just on the work," Hinck said. "It would be impossible for me to do this work without MakeWork."

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