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‘Hire a local musician’ is part of Spokane Arts’ new campaign ‘Arts Mean Business’

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 15, 2021

By Audrey Overstreet For The Spokesman-Review

Local drummer Quindrey Davis-Murphy, 26, has been performing on Spokane stages since he was a child prodigy at age 14.

A fixture in local bands, the Eastern Washington University graduate played the skins with multiple celebrated artists including Allen Stone, Alex Acuna, Snark Puppy, Spokane Brass Quintet and many more.

Like so many musicians, the active drummer was busy with gigs until the pandemic hit.

His live performances came to a stop last March as the virus ravaged lives, spoiled creative plans and tanked music careers throughout the world.

But like most local artists in Spokane, Davis-Murphy also made a living by working outside his creative pursuits. He is a paraeducator for Spokane Public Schools and teaches private music lessons from his studio.

His lessons slowed down after social-distancing rules were put in place 10 months ago, and some of his students had to drop out altogether. But the percussionist worked hard to transition from his preferred in-person teaching method to teaching virtually on online platforms.

The efforts paid off. Davis-Murphy managed to retain most of his private students and even added new ones. He currently has about 10 students who he teaches weekly.

“I keep growing, adapting and learning and buying new equipment to get the best sound and improve my setup,” Davis-Murphy said. “Spreading the knowledge of drumming is my passion. I don’t want to lose an ounce of creativity just because we’ve had to go online.”

And now Davis-Murphy, along with hundreds of other local artists, are getting help promoting their job skills during the global crisis from a new, local marketing campaign titled “Arts Mean Business.”

The promotional project for artists was conceived by local nonprofit Spokane Arts and funded by CARES Act monies awarded by Greater Spokane Incorporated, the region’s business development organization.

Conceived by Melissa Huggins, Spokane Arts’ executive director, and designed by graphic designer and local musician Karli Ingersoll, the “Arts Mean Business” campaign encourages members of the public to “Hire a Local Creative.”

Digital and print ads push members of the public to consider hiring a local artist the next time they need a service or product. Artists for hire can be found on a searchable roster on the Spokane Arts website spokanearts.org.

From family photography, music lessons and landscaping to website design and crafting jewelry or custom murals, the talents offered by local artists are seemingly endless.

“The goal of the ‘Hire a Local Creative’ campaign is to illustrate to the community what an incredible pool of talent we have living right here in Spokane, with creative people who can solve all kinds of problems and perform all manner of tasks for you,” Huggins said.

Davis-Murphy has already received inquiries for drum lessons through the artists’ roster on the Spokane Arts website since the campaign began in December.

It may have helped that he is one of several artists chosen to grace the splashy “Hire a Local Creative” print and digital ads and on billboards that were placed throughout Spokane last month.

“I was so surprised and honored to be chosen for the billboards,” Davis-Murphy said, chuckling. “My family thought it was great for me to get the recognition, and I got hundreds of likes on social media about it.”

Davis-Murphy hopes the campaign will inspire others. “For my music teacher friends, a lot of lessons have dwindled or stopped,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of musician friends sell their gear online, which breaks my heart.”

Other artists featured in the “Hire a Local Creative” print and digital ad campaign include musicians, photographers and designers.

“We knew from all the data that we had collected, and from the people who applied for emergency grants, that musicians and photographers were among the hardest-hit groups, so we decided to start with those,” Huggins said.

Plastering artists’ faces in colorful ads and on billboards is not the kind of celebrity treatment most creatives are used to receiving.

But Huggins said it’s good for business and Spokane, which relies heavily on its creative sector to keep the city vibrant and an attractive place to live and work.

“The campaign alerts people that you can hire a creative to teach a music lesson or take a family portrait or commission a mural or design your website or your backyard,” Huggins said.

Since promoting the roster and urging the public to “hire local,” the artist roster at Spokane Arts’ website has become the most visited page on the site by far with thousands of hits, according to Spokane Arts’ program manager Mika Maloney.

There are more than 220 artists listed on the site so far, with more joining every day. Artists who want to be included on the roster, or who want to add more of their services for hire to their entry, can email mika@spokanearts.org.

Another element of the “Arts Mean Business” campaign is a series of four music videos performed by local bands and created by local filmmakers to spotlight brick-and-mortar businesses that have been hit hard by pandemic shutdowns.

More information on the videos and roster can be found at spokanearts.org. “Instead of going to a site like Etsy to look for a cool thing that an artist in New Jersey will ship to you, nine times out of 10, there’s a local artist who can make that cool thing for you,” Huggins said.

Melody Chang is a local vocalist, music coach and digital marketing executive at One Stop Media who is also on the Spokane Arts roster. She also runs her own agency, the Heaton Group, specializing in assisting artists with creating their own money-making sites and services.

Chang applauds Spokane Arts and GSI’s efforts to encourage hiring local, especially with regards to the creative sector.

“Our arts economy is vital to the Spokane community,” Chang said. “If we don’t foster our already existing infrastructure of artists and creatives, then we are going to lose that. And the arts community is what makes Spokane so special.”

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