The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted many sectors of Kentucky’s economy, including the state’s creative and arts industry. In partnership with the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and Artrepreneur, the Kentucky Arts Council will now offer Kentucky Crafted visual and craft artists an opportunity to reach a global market.
Founded in 2015, Artrepreneur is a platform that serves more than 40,000 visual and craft artists from more than 50 countries. Artists use Artrepreneur to sell artwork, enter competitions, learn about the business of art, and build successful creative careers. While any artist can join the site for free and sell work, artists with paid subscriptions to the site do not pay a commission on sales.
“We wanted to build a platform that’s virtual, which happens to be apropos these days,” said Artrepreneur founder and CEO Grace Cho. “We wanted to give artists the tools and connections. We wanted to play matchmaker. You’ve got the talent – the artists – on one side, and the market on the other side. We’ve put them together.”
The Tremaine Foundation has been a long-time partner of the Kentucky Arts Council, and has funded paid subscriptions for Kentucky Crafted artists to use the Atrepreneur platform. Heather Pontonio, the Tremaine Foundation’s art program director, said this is the first time the foundation has ever supported an effort to promote artists in a specific state.
“We knew that so many Kentucky artists lost revenue when The Kentucky Crafted Market and other events were canceled due to the pandemic,” she said. “The Tremaine Foundation already had a relationship with Artrepreneur, so we wanted to try a pilot program where we helped out a group of artists with subscriptions to the service. We’ll see if this virtual opportunity provides a revenue stream they never had before as we all continue to navigate this challenging time.”
A recent survey conducted by Americans for the Arts revealed that 62 percent of artists have suffered employment losses as a result of COVID-19. The average financial loss per artist/creative industry worker is $24,000. Nationally, artists expect to lose $50.6 billion in income in 2020.
“Selling work online is the only opportunity that remains for many Kentucky artists,” said Emily B. Moses, arts council executive staff advisor and coordinator of the partnership. “Our relationship with the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation has benefited artists who chose to take advantage of this new partnership with Artrepreneur which gives them an additional outlet for making sales.”
Kentucky Crafted artists who have created sites using the Artrepreneur platform are listed on the Kentucky Arts Council website.