Con Edison Immigrant Artist Program Newsletter, Issue No. 43
Special Report: With a Professional-Development Seminar in Guatemala, NYFA Goes International
This month’s Immigrant Artist newsletter focuses on a special event in NYFA’s 42-year history with our first International Professional Development Program taking place in Central America, Guatemala. From February 28, 2013 through March 3, 2013, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), Instituto Guatemalteco Americano (IGA), Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM), and La Fototeca, collaborated to produce an intensive 4-day seminar entitled “El Artista Como Emprendedor.”
The purpose of the seminar was to teach the principles of entrepreneurship in the arts, with the curriculum based on NYFA’s widely-used book, “The Profitable Artist.”
Over seventy artists—from all artistic disciplines— participated in this event, and included artists and arts organization representatives from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia, and the United States. NYFA’s curriculum focused on strategic planning in the arts, basic financial and budgeting techniques, fundraising, legal issues for artists, marketing, and candid discussions about surviving in today’s art marketplace. These topics were adapted to fit the unique needs of artists in Guatemala and Latin America, and local experts were invited to present on certain core topics where relevant. Participants were also given the chance to complete a customizable “action plan,” that would serve as a blueprint for their careers, to present on their goals and plans, and to receive feedback.
This was the first time in the region that such a large group of artists had come together to create a community based on shared interests and goals. With a strong emphasis on creating a supportive network, the participants began by creating a “virtual community” through a vibrant and active Facebook group. That has already moved from the virtual to the physical, as the participants (with IGA facilitating) have held follow-up meetings, with more planned for the near future. The program’s impact provided in the words of artist Waseem A. Syed “shared inspiration and opportunities for interdisciplinary cooperation." Each partner hosted a session of the program allowing participants to gain familiarity with the organizations and each bringing a unique perspective to the experience.
Through the IAP Con Edison Newsletter’s featured organization articles, NYFA had been introduced to El Nuevo Museo de Arte Contemporneo, Guatemala (NuMu), a collaborative project between Stefan Benchoam and 2010 Mentee alum Jessica Kairé. NuMu is first museum dedicated to contemporary art in Guatemala whose physical space is the shape of an egg as it was originally built for an egg-selling street vendor. NYFA was able to visit the space in person and see their current exhibition "Jardín de esculturas”, curated by Emiliano Valdés, which featured site-specific and sculptural works by Bhakti Baxter (Miami), Gabriel Lester (Amsterdam/Shanghai), Federico Herrero (San Jose) and Rodrigo Hernández (Mexico City/ Maastricht). Stefan is also co-director of Proyectos Ultravioleta in Zone 1, an area where galleries have become more prominent since the introduction of 6ta avenida, the City’s first pedestrian street. Founded in 2009, the artist run space has a new and unusual location inside a bustling mall that seems appropriate for the experimental and multidisciplinary focus of their programming that also provides a platform for local and foreign projects, workshops, screenings, concerts, and lectures.
As NYFA continues its work fostering communities abroad, with programs such as the recent International Composers Exchange with artists from the Netherlands, the organization looks forward to deepening the relationship with Guatemala and the region, and to providing resources to these artists while linking them with their international counterparts.