Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Put A Bird On It!


This article  in the New York Times describes a really interesting intersection of individuals and organizations, resulting in a very cool public art installation. Local artists in NYC bring John James Audubon’s illustrations to life by painting their own interpretations of the birds on roll-down gates in Audubon’s very own neighborhood. Avi Gitler, a gallery owner and founder of the project, decided to create a mural project to ‘transform’ his neighborhood and got the help of his landlord and the Audubon Society. The article says that it was artist Tom Sanford who connected Mr. Gitler with the Audubon Society. A picture of each installation along with text about each bird and artist will be posted on Audubon’s website, as well as a call for other artists and landlords to sign up to join the project.

This article reminded me of our talk this past Monday about the multiple roles of artists. Tom Sanford was able to connect a local gallery owner with the Audubon Society, and to kick off this whole project. I love public art installations like these, and I think it’s a really imaginative and creative use of space within the community. It’s so cool that the area is John James Audubon’s actual neighborhood as well!

I think it’s also a great example of collaboration across the sectors. This project involves artists, individuals, a for profit, and a nonprofit, to create a work that involves a community in which they all play a part.

One thing I wasn’t very impressed with was the information regarding paying the artists involved. The article said that some of the artists received small honorariums, while others ‘volunteered’ their time. I wonder why some artists received compensation and others weren’t, and how the money was gathered and distributed. Maybe this is because the project is headed by an individual, rather than a public arts organization or another structure.


4 comments on “Put A Bird On It!

  1. gaochang619
    November 11, 2014

    I was attracted by your lovely picture just like a pigeon following bread crumbs, and found the article about collaboration was a both inspiring and illuminating idea. In fact I have no idea whether this sort of programs launched by individuals are commonplace in the US or not, but I have encountered many interesting news about interesting tiny activities like this one on social media. Aside from the touching content and stories, you remind me of the important issue on compensation stuff, and also other responsibilities and offers involved. Do they have a contract or do they need to? I am curious about this.

  2. awellfare89
    November 13, 2014

    I wonder if on the subject of pay that if they had to offer compensation for more well-known artists to attract public interest which didn’t leave much left to pay others. I’m sure there was volunteerism that happened as well. Hopefully, as the article mentions, there will be more money in the future to pay others.

  3. amyjoforeman
    November 14, 2014

    I am also interested in why some artists received an honorarium while others were just volunteering. I understand that if the event was hosted by on person, rather than an organization, the funds can be difficult to attain. However, I don’t like how they’re skirting the pay situation under the rug. Ideally they would find a way to pay all their artists, but if that is impossible, I wish they would acknowledge that all artists deserve to paid. They should be incredibly grateful that artists “volunteered.”

    As arts managers, we know artists deserve money for their work! Why are there still arts managers exploiting artists!?

  4. yaoge2016
    November 14, 2014

    I think there is no need to focus on the payment issue, I mean, it may be a matter of timeline. They paid the first several artists who devoted to the program, and found no money to pay the latter of them. What impresses me most is that they try to improve the image of Audubon or rebrand the area through arts and through their own efforts.
    Many governments try to rebrand its local area by creating cultural aggregation, like theaters, museums, art centers, etc. Those people’s intention and action to bring some changes to their neighborhood really touch me.

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