Art Studio Tour changes name and expands purpose

The Island Art Studio Tour recently announced changes to the nonprofit that began as a small collective of individual artists in the early 1980s. Now, well into its third decade, the organization has a new name, Vashon Island Visual Artists (VIVA), and plans are afoot to increase its artist support services and educational goals. A meeting of the newly minted VIVA will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 18, at Open Space for Arts & Community, and island visual artists and supporters are invited to attend.

VIVA Board President and island artist Morgan Brigg recently explained in detail the new vision for the organziation, saying the goal for expanding educational opportunities is to help artists freshen their marketing skills, learn how to photograph their art and create websites.

“Eventually we’d love to offer residency programs and financial support when artists have a personal emergency, financial assistance with a workshop or for a first-time tour participant, discounts on material suppliers and exhibitions. We’d like to have a registry for Vashon artists with links and a VIVA membership list so members can support each other. I’d like to see a local art lecture series talking with people who have been making art on the island for years,” she said. “And having fun meetings with members — in the summer have a potluck to meet other members.”

At Sunday’s meeting, the VIVA board will introduce seven directors who will lead the following committees: Grants and Funding — Chris Beck and Kristen Reitz-Green; Education Workshops and Classes — Terry Donnelly and Whitney Rose; Scholarships and Sponsorships — Eric Heffelfinger and Brian Fisher; Member Support Services and Networking — Donna Botten; Studio Tour — Jean Echevarria and Sy Novak; Public Relations — Janice Randall and Brian Fisher; Finance — Beck and Heffelfinger. Brigg said the directors will speak about their committee and then open the floor to ideas.

“We really do want to hear from everybody,” she said. “We want to hear their ideas and incorporate them at this point in our growth.” she said.

Beck said the new organization has a grassroots feeling.

“It is exciting,” she said. “We are forming services, reaching out, thinking outside the box before it gets too formalized and structured. For me, that is where the fun is. It is hugely dynamic, and hopefully we can keep that going. It has to stay fun and enjoyable for whatever we do and to provide services.”

Until VIVA’s announcement last month, the Studio Tour membership stood at 150. About 50 new artists have signed up since then. Both Brigg and Beck made it clear that the new organization is for all island visual artists, not just those interested in being on the tour. Annual dues, which also cover the cost of being on the tour, are $10 and collected in January.

“VIVA is a hub to find your friends and get support with materials and ideas,” Brigg said. “I think it will be a real winner here on the island.”

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