I’ll say more. It hasn’t been my experience that the new “Art Alley” works. When it originally started over ten years ago there was a small group committed to daily maintenance, but even then it was difficult. After the troubles it had, the concept of “The Guild” was born which was to be a group that took over that responsibility for of Art Alley. That concept has not come together. Tyler does Black Book Sessions every Tuesday at The Dahl to help facilitate this, and I have the Guild Coffee every Friday morning. Black Books are under attended, and virtually no one shows up for coffee (a few have, thanks to everyone!). We have reached out in multiple ways to be proactive to getting participation in managing Art Alley, but still there is very little participation on that side of things. It takes daily maintenance. Moreover, there are only about 5 to 7 artists that actively or semi-actively participate consistently in providing art in the alley so it is probably not the bastion of creativity many might think it to be.
Months before the public criticism came to the surface two years back, I had contacted Tyler privately and expressed my concerns about Art Alley. Because Tyler is a good man, he immediately took responsibility and tried to correct things. Over the next few months there were meetings, including the big one at The Dahl in March of 2013, and a very small group came together to help. Soon, however, that small group moved on to other things and less and less of the day to day maintenance of Art Alley was being shared, and more and more it fell on the very few. That is where the problem came from in the first place.
My desire with “Art Alley, inc.” is purely to use social entrepreneurship in a manner to find the sustainable Win-Win to see Art Alley exist into the future. If it doesn’t get destroyed in negativity here, it can provide a better and more equitable management of Art Alley. It can also create much needed funding for K-5 visual arts programs for our children and many opportunities for artists. My motives were completely to help the children and the youth of Rapid City and my initial reserve of the trademark nearly two years ago, was to protect it and keep it in our community as an asset to Art Alley and prevent it from being hijacked from some outside source for its own agenda. There is nothing whatsoever in this that prevents artists from anything, and it is so very unfortunate that this idea of social entrepreneurship has been set up for failure before it can even get underway. Any licensing fees (where they would even apply, and in most cases that can be envisioned they would not) would not go to the company, they would go directly to the kids programs. I hope the company is run by the young people, and have been in discussion with various youth organizations for months now to turn this into a reality.
I further don’t believe that a Non Profit model is sustainable as (1) I truly can’t envision anyone donating much in the way of funding to Art Alley, (2) even if funding was to materialize it would further dilute the already scarce funding dollars for existing arts organizations in Rapid City instead of collaborating with them for mutual benefit, and (3) who would do it, no one really shows up now to manage Art Alley?
The fact is that no one has used “Art Alley” as a trademark, and so I don’t really see what the issue is. However, my desire was that the trademark, if and when it was to be used, would be for the benefit of Art Alley, the artists of the alley and the area, our community and our kids. I strongly believe that if this isn’t destroyed here, working together we can create the most innovative public art project in the United States today, one that could become the model for others across the country. I am in Art Alley every day and have been since before it became Art Alley. I want what is best for everyone here
I’m not hard to find and so if anyone has any questions they are free to come ask me, I would love to tell you about this opportunity and visit with you about your ideas as well.
On the other hand, perhaps this is a signal that my time in Art Alley has come to a close. When Art Alley had reached its low point and I agreed to help get it back on track I did so because I care. Back then I had seen some movement where the next generation was stepping up to take over Art Alley’s day to day needs, and that was encouraging. At that time I told myself I would dedicate two years to helping it right itself and become sustainable. That was in the fall of 2012.
If there becomes a consensus - built upon the truth and not what is going on here - that everyone desires some other manner in which Art Alley should operate, then I will step out and end my participation. With all of this that has happened I honestly think that it may well be time for me to retire from Art Alley anyway. James and the others who are so vehemently opposed to finding a sustainable way for Art Alley to be a community asset can then step up with their program. I hope whatever they come up with helps everyone, especially the children. I will, of course, always wish Art Alley all of the best.