Cultural arts commission sees 'incredible' response to free workshops in Elgin

  • Elgin's cultural arts commission is sponsoring a new, free workshop series for "creative individuals and organizations." Forty people attended the first workshop, pictured here, last weekend that focused on audience diversity and engagement.

    Elgin's cultural arts commission is sponsoring a new, free workshop series for "creative individuals and organizations." Forty people attended the first workshop, pictured here, last weekend that focused on audience diversity and engagement. photo courtesy of city of Elgin

 
 
Updated 1/15/2020 10:39 PM

A new, free workshop series for "creative individuals and organizations" -- really, the entire community -- sponsored by Elgin's cultural arts commission is proving to be successful.

Forty people attended the first workshop last weekend that focused on audience diversity and engagement, and more than 70 have registered for the second workshop, "Marketing Bootcamp for Artists," taking place Saturday. The last one, "Building Arts and Business Partnerships," is Jan. 25.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"So far the response has been incredible," Elgin Cultural Arts Manager Amanda Harris said.

The workshops feature expert speakers selected by the commission in partnership with the nonprofit Americans for the Arts. The commission is using $6,000 out of its $147,000 budget, which includes $50,000 for grants, Harris said.

Elizabeth Niemeier, who works as director of operations for Children's Theatre of Elgin, said the first workshop was "wonderful" and she plans to attend the next two as well.

"It was really professionally presented and there was a lot of information accessible to a lot of different kinds of artists and a lot of different disciplines," Niemeier said. "There were a lot of independent artists but also a lot of people like me who represented an organization."

The commission has offered workshops in the past that specifically targeted artists with topics such as oil painting, Harris said. The idea of creating a new, broader workshop series came after the commission solicited feedback and had discussions last year about areas for improvement, she said.

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"How are we helping the public? How are we engaging and doing our best work?" she said. "Those were the questions we asked."

Harris said she did research and reached out to Americans for the Arts, which helped hone in on the three topics for the workshops.

Saturday's speaker is Ceci Dadisman, digital marketing manager for the Ohio-based creative agency FORM. Dadisman will discuss how to craft a communications plan, engage target audiences, optimize messaging and more.

"The marketing world has really changed drastically in the last few years, and we (Elgin's artistic community at large) needed help in how to utilize social media and video, and creating content, and how to target those audiences," she said.

The workshop on Jan. 25 will feature speaker Jessica Stern, private sector initiatives program manager for Americans for the Arts. Elgin has been "really, really good" about having partnerships among artists and the business community, for example via the annual Elgin Fringe Festival, Harris said. Still, there might be newer artists and smaller organizations and businesses that need help in that area, she said.

"Marketing Bootcamp for Artists" takes place Saturday and "Building Arts and Business Partnerships" takes place Jan. 25. Both are 1 to 5 p.m. at Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way in Elgin.

Tickets are free; visit cityofelgin.org/2373/Artist-Workshops for link to register.

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