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A&E >  Art

Terrain is working to alter the landscape for local artists

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 18, 2021

For nearly a year, masks have been ubiquitous. It seems as if the protective coverings are everywhere. Yes, that is a reminder to sport a mask on the Riverfront Park Clock Tower and the Fox Theater.

That familiar visual is courtesy of Terrain, which is collaborating with Black Lens for their Create Health campaign. The project, funded by the Washington Department of Health, coordinated artists to create works with COVID-19. There will be visual op-eds and poems. Two projection pieces will be installed, one at the Fox Theater and the other on the Clocktower.

“The message of the artwork will be about wearing masks and social distancing,” said Ginger Ewing, Terrain’s executive director. “It will also be about the vaccine.” Terrain is spreading the message that the pandemic isn’t over yet and that local artists need support.

It’s not an easy time to be an artist in Spokane. However, Terrain is trying to help creatives navigate their way through the pandemic. The nonprofit – which features a gallery space, Terrain Gallery; a beautification program, Window Dressing; and a professional development program, Creative Enterprise – is working on helping culture creators survive during a difficult time.

“We’re well aware that artists are really suffering along with cultural organizations at this time,” Ewing said. “The good news is that there are some really exciting things for artists on the horizon.”

Terrain was recently awarded a $90,000 grant from All In Washington, a collective of private individuals and corporate donors, for microgrants to support artists and creatives who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Terrain is disseminating COVID-19 grants with a cap of $2,000 each. An artist from any medium was considered for the funding.

“It can be any type of art,” Ewing said. “It could be music, visual arts, performance or technical. The local scene has to be supported. We know how hard artists have been hit. Many of the local artists work at restaurants or venues, and they were each hit hard by the pandemic.”

This particular fundraiser prioritizes underrepresented communities – Black, Indigenous and People of Color, including undocumented individuals, and LGBTQ+ – although any artist who can demonstrate need was considered. The application is closed, and funds will be distributed within two weeks.

“This will help since local artists here have been absolutely pummeled,” Ewing said.

Terrain will also provide a professional development class for creative entrepreneurs. It’s a 12-week incubator program in which artists will receive continuing technical support as they learn about creative enterprise. The program includes weekly classes, one-on-one coaching, peer-to-peer learning and a proven curriculum that equips participants with skills to transition their creative endeavors into living-wage small businesses.

The takeaway is a comprehensive, actionable business plan, as well as the technical support, access to business resources, knowledge about capitol opportunities and the introduction of businesses to the broader Spokane business community.

“This will allow artists to have some control over their economic future,” Ewing said. “They can professionalize what they do. It helps to understand the business side of art.”

As many as 15 artists will be chosen, but applications close March 7. Local artists, makers, creators, designers, creative entrepreneurs and crafters will receive top consideration. Individuals and businesses that sell items they made rather than reselling mass-produced goods is what Terrain is looking to add for the classes.

“This is born out of our Creative Enterprise program,” Ewing said. “This will hopefully enable the creative-minded to leave with some ideas about business. We know walking into an artist’s room isn’t like walking into an accountant’s office, but business is something you have to think about.”

The artists selected must work one shift a month in Terrain’s retail storefront, From Here, at River Park Square. “They will work with customers seeing what works,” Ewing said. “It really is deeply rooted to give the artist that professional experience.”

Meanwhile, Terrain’s annual Bazaar can’t be scheduled until after July 1 since large-scale events are verboten at least until then. “We’ll choose a date in August and see how it goes,” Ewing said. “For now, we’re moving forward.

“Only six people are allowed in our gallery at the moment, but a great way to support local artists is to view their work online. We have 90 artists and more than 3,000 pieces. Please check out their work and support them. There is no better time than now.”

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