Like many state agencies, the Georgia Council for the Arts has seen steep budget cuts over the past few years. The losses have affected numerous arts programs. Some have disappeared altogether. Others are trying to make it work without tax dollars.
One artist collective is survivng on a shoe string budget.
Anna Paramo rolls white paint onto a wooden canvas in a large studio warehouse near downtown Atlanta. Painting is not the only thing Paramo will do to prepare for an upcoming show.
“I do a little bit of everything…for the show I’m building some instillations, and I’m gonna be working on make-up, body painting…”
Paramo is part of an artist collective called Dodekapus. The name comes from the word Octopus without the Octo. Instead the group added the word dode, meaning twelve, for the twelve different art mediums represented in the group.
(sound of meeting…motion number 4…$30 for cleaning supplies…motion number 5…we want to buy our own clamp lights for $240 – 60 lights…ay ay…)
The group is open to any artist. Members come to weekly meetings where things like budget issues for an upcoming show are discussed.
About 20 members huddle around the stage in the warehouse. All expenses have to be voted on democratically. Member Lionel Flax helps the collective wade through some tough decisions.
“I think that we should be mindful of the fact that we didn’t necessarily budget to pay somebody to do what Danny did, but that’s ok we can kind of put it before the group like we’re doing now, to say we need to have flexibility in our protocols and procedures and I think this is a good learning experience..."
Money is tight for the group says founding member Melanie Sachno.
“We anticipate always no money and we try to make due with the resources that we can attain through donations, or stuff that we already have or recycled materials…”
Sachno was inspired to start an art collective similar to ones she had seen in other parts of the country. She rallied against proposed state budget cuts to the arts at the capitol last year.
Brenda Durant is with the Georgia Assembly of Community Arts Agencies. She is fighting for more state funding for the arts.
“A lot of lawmakers think of arts organizations or investing in the arts as charitable giving and I think that is the mindset that is hardest to change.”
Durant says collectives like Dodekapus could become a new trend for the arts in Georgia as funding gets even tighter.
“Art is going to shift. Many funders are looking at duplication of services. They are asking for arts organizations to try to merge and combine for people with shared missions to come together. The example of the collective makes a log of sense.”
Dokekapus will share the collective’s work in an event called “I Can Dream All Day” – The show will incorporate every possible art form, from acting and painting to sculpture and dancing. The show will be this Saturday at the Relapse Warehouse in Atlanta. Proceeds from the event will go to Children's Health Care of Atlanta.
For more information go to www.dodekapus.org