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Ways to show your support for local artists and artisans

Shop, donate and show-up for Charlottesville’s arts community

<p>Simply showing up and attending an exhibition or gallery opening demonstrates great appreciation and respect for artists and their work</p>

Simply showing up and attending an exhibition or gallery opening demonstrates great appreciation and respect for artists and their work

Charlottesville is home to a vibrant and well-established arts scene teeming with galleries and museums that spotlight a number of local artists. Not to mention, it is common to walk downtown and come across artists live-painting or even selling prints of their work. Whether you are new to the University and have yet to explore the various museums and galleries or you are a returning student and are curious about the artists here in Charlottesville, take time this semester to immerse yourself in the local art scene. As you do, consider the ways you can show your support for and give back to the artists that continuously educate, enlighten and beautify Charlottesville! If you aren’t sure where to start, here are several ways you can support local artists both with and without spending.

Shop

There’s nothing better than local, handmade artisan goods and there are a number of places where you can purchase a gift for a friend — or yourself! —  while also supporting one of the many great artists in the area. 

C’ville Arts Cooperative located on the Downtown Mall is a space that features handmade works by around 50 to 60 Virginia artists each year — a group that is “proud to be a thriving local cooperative business in Charlottesville,” according to artist Flame Bilyue. The work available for purchases includes but is not limited to beaded jewelry, prints, greeting card sets and even notebooks. As a cooperative, the artists work together to operate the store so you will be able to meet and engage with the artists on duty throughout the day. 

Darling Boutique on 1st Street is not just a consignment store — it also hosts a collection of specially curated handmade goods from over 70 local artisans. Jewelry, small-batch beauty products, hair accessories and paper goods are just a few of the many handmade products that Darling Boutique offers. 

The farmers market at IX Art Park on Saturdays every week from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. is not only the perfect weekend activity for you and your friends but also a great place to purchase a variety of art and artisan products. If you’re looking for affordable prints and stickers to decorate your living space, check out Bellavance Ink — this vendor offers edgy Charlottesville-themed pen and ink illustrations.

Donate

If instead you are looking to make a donation that supports the arts community here in Charlottesville, check out these great donation pools that provide aid for artists and fund various projects.

The pandemic has and is continuing to hit communities hard. Like many, artists faced income loss due to the cancellation of gigs and other opportunities. On March 20, 2020, New City Arts and The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative launched the Charlottesville Emergency Relief Fund for Artists after being inspired by Springboard for the Arts in Minneapolis. By September, they had collected nearly $50,000 that has supported over 145 artists. They are continuing to collect donations in order to expand their pool of funds and help more artists.

The Charlottesville Mural Project is another program organized by The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative. Their aim is to uplift artists, contribute to the culture and exciting ambience of the city and inspire residents and visitors alike. 

If you aren’t able to donate money, you can donate art supplies to The Scrappy Elephant, an open art studio for children founded by Sarah Sweets. The Scrappy Elephant offers studio sessions, educational events and workshops geared towards Charlottesville’s youngest artists. Not to mention, the studio reuses usable art materials, diverting it from landfills.

Show up

While providing monetary contributions to artists is certainly appreciated, it is not the only way to show your support for local artists. Simply showing up and attending an exhibition or gallery opening demonstrates great appreciation and respect for artists and their work. If you have a chance, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and ask them questions — you will leave feeling more enlightened and educated than you were before!

If you are interested in looking at contemporary art, Second Street Gallery is the place for you. Located by the Downtown Mall on 2nd Street, this nonprofit art space promotes local contemporary artists while educating the public with exhibitions, workshops, lectures and more. The gallery is currently closed but will reopen for visits by appointment Sept. 3 — be sure to book a free appointment for one of their upcoming exhibitions!

Not too far from Second Street Gallery is the McGuffey Art Center. This art center is one of the oldest artist-run cooperative art centers in the country. There you will find 46 renting artist members, 100 associate artist members and four incubator residency members who showcase their work, teach classes and host events in order to make art more accessible to the community.

Another art gallery that is worth visiting is The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative located just across the Belmont Bridge from the Downtown Mall. This community gallery is a creative hub that features experimental art events and exhibitions such as the Telemetry Music Series, a show featuring unconventional music compositions that transcend space and genre.

Art has a lasting impact on all of us. “Enabling artists to create works of their heart is inspiring and empowering to everyone that encounters it. And that positive vibe ripples out into the community and the world” said Bilyue. So whether this is your first semester in Charlottesville, your last or anything in between, the arts community in Charlottesville is here for you to explore — just don’t forget to say thank you! 

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