Jacqueline Orange and Averlyn Archer, founders of ArtCrawl Harlem

In today’s digital landscape, art has formidable competition with iPhones, the Web and social media demanding the attention of the masses. Therefore, the art world has had to adapt and become more creative in its delivery. Jacqueline Orange, founder of Taste of Harlem Food & Cultural Tours and Averlyn Archer, founder of Canvas Paper and Stone Gallery recognized this shift and decided to make art an experience through the establishment of ArtCrawl Harlem. The company is the first major guided tour involving Harlem art galleries. Rolling out spoke with Orange about the importance of community support, the pros and cons of social media and what makes their company successful.

How are you managing your business amid the current economic challenges?

We put our own money in it and then we got a little creative by asking other nonprofits to join in with us. The creative funding uses community businesses and people to sponsor foods, wines and maybe a bus, and that offsets some of the costs for us.

How has social media helped and hindered the way that you deliver your services and the art world in general?

It’s a struggle because we haven’t put a lot of effort into it since [there are] only two of us. We’ve just been doing guerrilla marketing, handing out postcards, e-blasts, TV and print. But I think that with social media people are able to find out about artists more and you can self-promote in a broader range. On the downside, you got people stealing work and printing it. So there is a positive and negative to the technology.

To attract people to art, how important is it to incorporate other disciplines and make it as interactive as possible?

In our fundraiser we used and blended dance and art together and it was hot. We did three mediums where we showed Romare Bearden’s piece, “The Block” and Walter Rutledge did a dance interpretation of it. That combined the visual with dance and music. It blends ages together. Sometimes you can get people who understand music and dance and then they can understand the visual art. It connects and you bring a new body of people into experiencing art. We had such a phenomenal response that we want to do more of that.

Update: We have recently learned that on September 28th, 2011, Averlyn Archer passed away. An artist in residency program will be developed in her honor through ArtCrawl Harlem. Donations may be forwarded to ArtCrawl Harlem.


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