When I first encountered Art Youngstown, I had my doubts. They were taking on a huge challenge with little money and human resources. While working with them however, I found a group of people with a level of dedication that rivaled the former Dutton Alley Art Community. When preparing a show, people of Art Youngstown work long hours, unpaid, sometimes under extreme conditions. Almost all the founding members have full time jobs and some have small children in their care. There were times some were very ill and after a hard day of work wanted nothing more than to be home in bed. Yet they came down to the galleries to work. When I say work I mean mopping large areas of floor, washing walls, basic carpentry work, painting large areas of walls, tedious computer work, dealing with the public and fund raising, to name just a small number of chores. These are jobs for which museum workers at the Butler and McDonough are highly paid.
And the efforts of Art Youngstown have borne fruit. So many unrecognised artists who cold not break into the local art venues were given the opportunity to show their work and build their resumes. Many of these artists made dramatic sales which they ploughed back into their art businesses.
The Inaugural Exhibition brought nearly one thousand people downtown on opening night. These people then visited the clubs and the restaurants after the opening. Art Youngstown has been creating a great deal of positive energy and good will amongst the Youngstown residents as well.
What was most impressive to me was the DEMAND by the public for original art. I saw a few incidents that almost amounted to conflict between art buyers over pieces for sale at the first Art Youngstown event. Those naysayers who constantly chant "You Can't Make Money Selling Art In Youngstown" really need to get out more and experience the reality of the art business in this city.
Art Youngstown is doing things right as well. On staff they have a Certified Public Accountant who handles the finances and a Lawyer who handles the contracts and legal matters. Two of the younger staff members are very skilled in promotion and Internet Technologies.
Artists, business owners and public, please respect and support At Youngstown. They have made the downtown a better place and you are directly benefiting from their presence.