Regional Startups 3 MIN READ

The cliche of the starving artist may be a cliche, but like any other cliche or stereotype, it’s based in truth. Successfully commercialising artwork is a difficult challenge for any artist, particularly when buyers only want to spend limited amounts to make their wall look fancy.

Based in Wagga Wagga, startup Eastern Riverina Arts is looking to help alleviate this issue by commercialising artists work through a monthly subscription service.

Founder Scott Howie explained that buyers would be able ‘hire’ art for a month to hang on their walls, with the option to purchase it afterwards, likening the process to how indoor plant hire services function.

“The art would be delivered and hung on the wall, then at the end of the period you’d buy the artwork because you like it so much. The service would be offered to businesses and residents as well,” said Howie.

The service, which is currently under development, would act as one of many projects within the founder’s established non-profit organisation, Eastern Riverina Arts.

The business is involved in developing arts and cultural activities in the local region, having formed partnerships with local councils including Coolamon, Temora, Urana, and Wagga Wagga.

As a non-profit, Eastern Riverina Arts currently earns its revenue from annual council memberships and ticket sales to their events. Howie said that the new subscription model would help contribute to the organisation’s sustainability.

“We’re not about making a huge amount of money but more a cost recovery basis. It’s almost a social enterprise that generates revenue for the artists and develops new markets for visual arts in the region,” said Howie.

However, helping to financially support local artists is key to the organisation’s new initiative, a project which Howie said will help both big name and small time artists.

“The issue with big artists is that a lot of people want to support the art but can’t afford it. When you’re paying fifty bucks a month, that becomes something affordable,” explained Howie.

“Other smaller artists have work that isn’t selling and then it just sits in their storage. This puts that art out to work.”

Howie said the initiative will look to work primarily with styles of art that the “region is known for”, in the form of 2D artworks such as paintings and framed prints. That’s not to say other art styles are off the table, however, as Howie said he is also interested in contemporary art forms.

The startup will also look beyond residents to offer its services to businesses.

“The idea for this is that this art in a workplace can increase productivity. It’s because you’re being prompted to look at things and challenged to think, so it’s like a creative outlet,” Howie said.

For their part, artists are eager to get on board; Howie said he has had conversations with an Indigenous artist from the region and another local oil painter. Although these two artists come with experience, the startup is also contacting lesser known talent.

Hoping to launch this year, Howie first took to the very first Regional Pitchfest in Wagga Wagga last year to help get his idea off the ground and put out feelers for interest.

“Regional Pitchfest forced me to get the idea out of my head, start working on the model and make it a reality. I loved it,” said Howie.

“It was also great to get the feedback. People said they wanted to sign up for this. Talking to the judges was also great too to develop things a bit more.”

Howie is currently working to get an app for the service developed in order to allow users to view the artwork on offer and manage their monthly subscriptions.’

Image: Scott Howie. Source: Riverina Leader.

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