Artist cooperative spurs local development

As a means of bringing back a community one group of artist report explained how they thought big in a small town to obtain their dreams.

At the recent Connecting Entrepreneurial Community Conference in Marshall, Mich., sponsored by Michigan State University Extension, a group of courageous artists shared how they “brought back a community” through creating a shared space for local artists. By utilizing unused commercial infrastructure, (AKA cheap space), the artists were able to expand their exhibition space as well as create a learning space for the community youth. With this focusing on improving the quality of life in their community, the artists were able to form a tax-exempt charitable corporation, apply for grants for youth instruction and reduce their occupancy expenses.

The curb appeal of the spacious location cannot be overlooked as it is housed within a landmark building in downtown Marshall. The building, along with a web presence, has increased the ability to attract more clientele and additional artists. As any seller at a farmers market would tell you, “the bigger the pile, the greater the sales.” This has certainly been the case for the gallery as sales have increased as artists’ exhibits have increased.

The gallery manager reports that their success is made possible by repeat business. Offering customer “extras” such as courtesy, delivery, gift wrapping, complementing object suggestions and friendly hours of operation have created a brand identity for the gallery and led to their ability to celebrate success, a much needed opportunity for any community. This chance to “feel good” within a community is both contagious and self-perpetuating.

A “common good” business such as this is all too uncommon and shows how entrepreneurial resiliency within a community is an essential component of community resiliency.

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