Why don’t we support local artists? That’s a conversation for another day.
By Alex Gwaze (Researcher)
One of the biggest complaints we hear from local artists is, “people don’t support me”. While this plea is common (and most people agree that there is a lack of support) I’ve never heard anyone ask – “How can we help you?” Maybe it’s because we think it’s expensive or we really don’t know how to help them, without hurting them; or we’re just not a “stan”. Whatever the reason or reasons, we cannot afford to not support our local creatives. They provide us with affordable entertainment, they voice our everyday concerns, they give us a reason to interact at events, and they distract us from our daily stresses. What is more, they champion our culture, re-invent old traditions, and help us see where we are as a people – in the global sense. If we do not support them, we run the risk of losing the diversity of human creativity. More over, we will have nothing to talk about with friends and haters if we remove all the popular people, places, and things we have in common. So, whether they are an actor, dancer, designer, filmmaker, model, musician, painter, or writer, here are a few things you can do to help your favourite artist ‘come up’ and stay afloat:
1. “Sharing is Caring“
Everyone knows that being an artist is hard, but it shouldn’t be in a greater connected world. Practice a little kindness and share their content frequently, not just once in a while. The sheer amount ‘stuff’ on the Internet makes it harder for any artist to be discovered. ‘Sharing’ is the easiest / cheapest way to promote your favourite artist and give them free exposure to your community of followers.
2. “Swipe Right”
Nobody likes to be ignored. Start a ‘relationship’ with your favourite artist/s by “liking” and commenting on their works. Don’t be silent, participate in the relationship. Commenting is the fastest way to express how you feel and it adds a human element to the virtual community. Furthermore, it helps bolster an artist’s relevancy and let’s them know you are there, you value their work, and you are paying attention.
3. “Put Them On”
Don’t just comment, introduce your favourite locals to new things that you think might be relevant to their career development. Social media feeds are highly-tailored ‘bubbles’ that shield people from different worlds. So put your favourite artists ‘on’ by informing them of opportunities, competitions, events, suppliers, links, and competitors that can help them extend their reach beyond the local market. In addition, offer some constructive criticism where it’s appropriate.
4. “Tag the feature”
While artists are naturally competitive, nobody likes only one thing. That’s why we love collaborations, group events, and partnerships. They give us more value for our money, and help achieve common goals. Furthermore, they allow for the transfer of knowledge. Therefore, since we all know the value teamwork (#Hunhu), create some win-win situations by “tagging” your favourite artists and brands in the same post. Let them find each other.
5. “Volunteer your skills”
If you are a marketer, lawyer, event organiser, club owner, accountant etc etc – there is nothing wrong with offering a helping hand. A little advice, “kick start”, free services or facilities, go a long way. Even if you are not a ‘professional’, local artists often have a tiny or none existent team, so you can find internship opportunities with them. In addition, you can volunteer to pass out flyers in your community or usher patrons at events.
6. “Adopt their cause”
A local artist’s ‘worth’ is measured by their influence in the community. That’s why any decent artist often has a cause they champion. Legitimize their credibility with sponsors by adopting the cause/s they champion. This will not only increase the philanthropic investments in your area, it will also help you engage with the community, and get your favourite artist more corporate attention.
7. “Give them roses”
Mental health issues affect everyone, including ‘celebs’. That’s why it is important to acknowledge the significance of your favourite artist/s in your life. Creatives do a lot for the ‘culture’ and their fans; however, most do not gain any financial reward, fame, or favour for their efforts. So, show them some love, while they are still alive. Talk them up, compliment them, and tell the world why you ‘love’ them. Do this consciously, because your vote of thanks might be that little-big-push they need to keep on keeping on.
The last three are the most obvious and direct ways to put money in their pockets.
8. “Rack up the views”
When you get online, play the same artist’s content constantly, on repeat, on all streaming sites. Watch one or two videos of theirs, briefly and daily (on silent if you have to).The goal is over-saturation, so like everything of theirs you see. Put their content on your stories and statuses -with information on where to find them – this means, include their handles (@theirname) and links. Furthermore, attend free events to rack up their numbers at local venues.
9. “Customize your experience”
Whilst international artists tend to create work for the masses, local artist’s work is easier to locate. This affords you the opportunity to personalized your experience with your favourite local. You can make it personal by commissioning one-of-a-kind work/s for your home, or tailor made outfits (and accessories) just for you. You can even hire a singer to sing at your party, or get a ‘celeb’ to do shout out on social media.
10. “Buy Local”
Purchase local products from local artists. Book local acts. Buy tickets to local shows. Hire local talent. Buy local designers’ clothes. Buy local artist’s merchandise (singles, t-shirts, books, art). Attend local festivals. It’s that simple. And when you buy, accept their rate. Everyone loves a discount, but there is no better person to pay full price to than an artist. Their work will be in our hearts and minds long after they stop trending. So, if you can’t afford to pay full price at once, work out a payment plan.
In the end, remember a little corroboration and endorsement is the leg up our local artists need from ‘us’- their neighbours. Paying a little attention and being thoughtful is all you need to be supportive. That’s really all that’s required to keep our creatives, venues, and cultural products alive.