Why Local Art Matters Now More Than Ever

Artwork Archive | December 31, 2016 (Updated April 12, 2021)

There is unprecedented enthusiasm among young art collectors today for discovering local artists. When it comes to building a local arts scene, young art enthusiasts are in it for the long haul and engaged in community building on an ambitious scale.

Here's how local visionaries are shaping tomorrow’s art world in their own backyard:

Shaping Community That Gives Art Meaning

In the past, local wasn't the exception, it was the reality. Communicating and growing beyond local borders was largely impossible. Today we can communicate with nearly anyone, anywhere. However, a local origin story still holds the most power.

A collector may not be intimately familiar with the street art scene in Berlin that gave rise to a far away artist, but they're well acquainted with their favorite local artist's murals.

For these collectors, connecting with the artists and galleries that comprise their local art scene is huge. Ties to their community increase the perceived value of art and let collectors become part of the story.

Thad Mighell from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver agrees. He adds, “People from this generation know that their dollars have buying power, so they're trying to buy from meaningful sources and establish a personal connection with artists."

Supporting Art That Gives Community Meaning

Not only does a community connection give greater meaning to art, but today's creatives are very conscious that the reverse is also true: having a strong arts scene is good for the well-being of the city as a whole.

With this in mind, they're anxious to participate in, support, and grow the arts scene in their cities.

Paulina Petkoski and Samantha Banks Schefman of Playground Detroit realized there was a disparity in how people perceived Detroit and what they knew to be going on locally. Now, they're empowering the local arts scene in Detroit as a means to increase the city's economic and cultural prestige.

Their hometown knowledge helps them identify emerging artists and engage new players in an arts scene they have long realized is special. They're forging new partnerships that use the power of art to strengthen community ties, both culturally and commercially.

Hosting Innovative Art Events

Being plugged into the local arts scene makes for exciting events, and events are a crucial part of engagement for young collectors. Today's events move beyond gallery openings and are exploring innovative ways to introduce people to art.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, for example, has well established traditional events, such as an annual gala, but they also have their unique Southern Exposure Monster Drawing Rally. This event brings together more than 120 artists to live-draw and subsequently sell their works. 400-plus people attend and purchase the art.

“Experiential happenings are valued by millennials. It's about being part of something and a moment versus a material acquisition,” explains Thad Mighell.

How much more meaningful would your introduction to a local artist be if you met them at a live drawing event?

Bringing Street Art into the Gallery and Vice Versa

The rise of street art strongly supports the notion that local impact matters to young collectors. Street art didn't originate in galleries, it began in alleys and on warehouses in places local knowledge is essential.

"People coming into Detroit from different industries like tech and real estate may not have a sense of what's going on in the creative community, so murals and street art are important to connect the dots," says Paulina Petkoski.

For young collectors, well-known street art installations may be more important than an artist being featured in an influential gallery. For this reason, artists are crossing the boundary to and from street and gallery art more often. Each space has an important cache among collectors.

It [art] connects them with the area they live in. This is starting to create a market which is great for us, but there's still a lot of room for growth,” Petoski continued.

So, what does this mean for the future?

One of the overwhelming takeaways from speaking with young collectors and influencers about their local arts scene is how dedicated they are to its stewardship. Their devotion to the local arts scene is part of the hometown pride.

This generation of young collectors can take an active role in their community and they have big dreams for where the art community is headed.

Whether the mission is to revitalize a city through arts, improve education through arts involvement or strengthen communities, local art scenes matter more than ever.  

What else is shaping the next generation of art collectors? Discover how tech is changing the art world.

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