FMAAA sets up ‘Working Artist Wednesday’, pushes hours

BY BRIAN RIGGS
Fort Madison Area Arts Association

FORT MADISON – Fort Madison Area Arts Association is pleased to announce a new program in the works to benefit member artists, the FMAAA and provide a new cultural opportunity for area residents and visitors.

“We are calling it Working Artist Wednesdays,” says director Brian Riggs. “We have been working on some ways to bring new programs to FMAAA. This is a win/win/win. The center will have a volunteer artist on hand to provide staffing on Wednesday afternoons at least twice a month. The artist will have a new avenue of exposure to promote their work. And the community will have the opportunity to engage in a cultural experience.”

On Working Artist Wednesdays, the member artist may be working on a piece of their own work. The public is invited to stop in to see a work in progress as they demonstrate their process. Or, the artist may offer classes during their hours at the Center.

The FMAAA will be extending hours on those days to 7 p.m. to match up with when the movie starts next door at the Fox Theater.  This goes hand-and-hand with another new programming avenue for FMAAA, music lessons on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings.  

Guitar Tuesdays feature instructors from Musicians Pro-Shop of Burlington.  Equipment from the store allows students to amp-up or go acoustic.  Instructors Clay Houston and Nick Knedler offer instruction at $20 per half-hour.  Also piano lessons are available on the first and third Thursdays of the month featuring Teri Wellborn with more than 50 years of experience.  This program is on hiatus for the summer but back in the fall.  

All of these new programming ventures align with FMAAA’s desire to offer hours of operation up until 7 p.m.  Since flooding onto the 800 block of Avenue G in 2008, FMAAA has seen the increase in shops offering services after 5 p.m. continue to increase.  In fact we believe that foot traffic in the 5-7 p.m. time period will be the lure to 800 block of Avenue G in the future.

The Fort Madison Area Arts Association in past years received a portion of their operating funds from Hotel/Motel tax dollars.  Although the FMAAA fully supports the culmination of Amtrak to the Sante Fe depot, the organization lost over 10% of it’s annual budget with no forewarning.  And although FMAAA may be able to return to receive funding in the future, the city council and tourism commission are moving in a direction that will not allow legitimate attraction the access to that fund as in the past.  

Certainly for FMAAA it is a very similar situation as with Tri-State Public Radio losing funding from their main source.  However, FMAAA does not have the means to appeal to the public in the same way as the radio broadcaster.  Private funding via membership is as important as ever to maintaining the structure that FMAAA has developed over years of outcome oriented achievements.  

“Funding concerns continue to mount for this unit,” surmises Director Brian Riggs.  “It actually began when STEM launched and we lost some strong contributions from industrials that reformatted their community giving to reflect STEM bullet points. Now many realize that STEAM is the acronym as industrials in the area all benefit from creatives that monitor key slots for them.”  

One idea is to increase volunteer hours from members in new program opportunities.  Working Artist Wednesdays is a springboard for FMAAA in this area.

Lori Illner Greene works on a painting at the Fort Madison Area Arts Association. Illner Greene will be one of the resident artists that will staff the center on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Courtesy photo

The Fort Madison Area Arts Association in past years received a portion of their operating funds from Hotel/Motel tax dollars.  Although the FMAAA fully supports the culmination of Amtrak to the Sante Fe depot, the organization lost over 10% of it’s annual budget with no forewarning.  And although FMAAA may be able to return to receive funding in the future, the city council and tourism commission is moving in a direction that will not allow legitimate attraction the access to that fund as in the past.  Certainly for FMAAA it is a very similar situation as with Tri-State public radio losing funding from their main source.  

However, FMAAA does not have the means to appeal to the public in the same way as the radio broadcaster.  Private funding via membership is as important as ever to maintaining the structure that FMAAA has developed over years of outcome oriented achievements.  

“Funding concerns continue to mount for this unit,” surmises Director Brian Riggs.  “It actually began when STEM launched and we lost some strong contributions from industrials that reformatted their community giving to reflect STEM bullet points.”  Now many realize that STEAM is the acronym as industrials in the area all benefit from creatives that monitor key slots for them.”  

One idea is to increase volunteer hours from members in new program opportunities.  Working Artist Wednesdays is a springboard for FMAAA in this area. 

“We are launching the program on Wednesday, July 17th from 2pm to 7pm with member artist Lori Illner Greene,” says Riggs.

“She did a few days of demonstration work last summer during July when she was the featured artist with an exhibit called Pastels. We generated a lot of foot traffic on those days as folks and families dropped in to see what she was working on. She and I have been kicking around ideas about ways for members to get more involved and she volunteered to come in twice a month this month and next to help get this idea off the ground.”

The FMAAA is currently polling members to fill out other spots for the remainder of the year.  Hopefully the consistent quality of FMAAA over decades will inspire more private funding as FMAAA loses their entire public revenue for the next year.

Greene will be at FMAAA from 2pm to 7pm on July 17th and 24th, August 7th and 14th, and is likely to do two days in September as well. She is expected to be engaged in what ever work is currently on her studio easel at that time. Greene is happy to explain her process and invites you to stop by to see what she is working on.

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