Local arts champion Susan Irish helps get Artist Support Pledge kicked off in the Carolinas, raises money for local artists

by Lorne Chambers | Editor

The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted every corner of our society in some way or the other over the last several months. But some professions have been hit harder than others. One of those has undoubtedly been the arts community. From stages to canvases, there has been a void of public art since shutdowns and self-quarantining became the norm. Some musicians have found creative outlets and even minor revenue streams doing online performances, but visual artists largely lost their ability show their work at galleries, coffeeshops and farmers markets.

And beyond simply displaying and selling their work many who work in arts-related fields have also found themselves out of work. Teaching, technical support, gallery jobs, exhibitions, and art sales have disappeared. In an attempt to help alleviate some of this pressure British painter Matthew Burrows founded the Artist Support Pledge, which now has more than 215,000 posts and has raised around $25 million for artists around the globe.

The concept is a simple one. Artists post images of their work to sell for no more than $200 each (not including shipping). Anyone can buy the work. Every time an artist reaches $1,000 of sales, they pledge to spend $200 on another artist’s work. It’s artists supporting artists.

In West Ashley, painter, educator, and overall champion of the arts, Susan Irish, has led the charge in getting the Artist Support Pledge to take root in the Carolinas. “I hope it takes off really big because I have my eye on some art if I reach my goal,” says Irish, who first heard about Burrow’s Artist Support Pledge campaign when it popped up in her Instagram feed one day.

Irish posted some of her own modestly priced paintings on Instagram, but and added the #artistsupportpledge hashtag to it. “That’s the limit of my skills. But I knew it was a big idea so I got my social media expert on it,” says Irish, the former owner of Fabulon — Center for Art and Education. “She made a local hashtag #artistsupportpledgechs and set up a Facebook page for Artist Support Pledge Carolinas.”

Word is spreading as local artist are finding out about it. “I would love for it to grow more here. There is some beautiful stuff up there, paintings, pottery, sculpture, jewelry, too,” says Irish. “The great idea is that it facilitates shopping locally. We all rely on social media as a search engine. People want to support the arts. Artists are affected by this time. Here is an idea that links those three aspects together,” says Irish who has found a burst of creativity in the solitude that the coronavirus has created.

“I thrive in isolation and have been painting more than ever,” says Irish, who realizes that’s not the case for every artist. “I think some artists posted paintings they had at the $200 price range to support the idea but a lot of artists are inspired to make a new series of paintings for this specifically. Spending so much time in my house and thinking about what that means to me has produced a few pieces with shelter themes and house motifs.”

While the campaign is designed for artists to help artists, it’s open to everyone who wants to buy art at an affordable price. “It is a great way to shop. Art makes an ideal gift. Father’s Day, Graduations. No need to leave the house or wear a mask. Local artists can drop on the doorstep,” says Irish. “The public can shop and connect with artists. Many artists have other work on their sites that are in the price range and not posted so it is worth checking them out.”

For more information on Susan Irish and the Artist Support Pledge visit www.susanirishartist.com/artist-support-pledge

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