Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mourning without censorship

It's with sadness that I make this post . . . the dream of owning and operating part of a gallery, at least this one, has died. Remember just a few months ago I was invited into a gallery to sample first as a "guest artist" and quickly moved into "partnership"?

Well, initially, there was great excitement, renaming to gallery, deciding upon a tag line and getting everyone on-board with jobs and schedules. But as time went on there was evident, clear differences and varying levels of commitment. First, there was tension, next, conflict and finally division. When there came up a confrontation between what one person saw as "potential gallery image", while the other person viewed as "censorship" - the need for conflict resolution was clear. And we had none. So as people picked sides I could see no harmony or respectful communication - two values I need in partnerships - I knew the gallery was not a good fit for me. And I bowed out.

BUT, what I did learn are some "Basic Business 101" lessons. I now know the value of creating a Mission Statement, having By-Laws or some sort of Agreements/Contract as well as a clear proceedure for conflict resolution in place before you launch a business.

I can hear some of you commenting that those things aren't needed if you are good friends, or operate as professionals already or don't have any differences that can't be solved. I have to say I thought some of those things too. But, I was bewildered and confused by communications, hearing and understanding all sides, which disabled my ability to converse, objectively brainstorm and then resolve issues. Some topics and situations that came up were just OUT-OF-THE-BLUE - I couldn't have made them up in a fiction plot, but they appeared. So, having a pre-existing format for resolving problems is a must.

I'm hoping that my experience can help some of you avoid similar pitfalls, perhaps saving a dream. I debated posting this - wondering if I was divuldging some private issues - but a friend mentioned part of this lesson involved the ability to create without censorship. So, I continue to create, naming no names, pointing no fingers, discussing my personal experience. And . . . for now . . . I pondering what path to take for showing my artwork.

And actually, feeling like I'm mourning . . . the loss of a potential friend.


Irene Brady said...

Hi Elaine,
I'm so glad you were up front about your experience with the gallery. Since most artists aren't all that worldly when it comes to business practices (how many artists do YOU know who ever took a business class? Yechhhh!) we all have to learn from each other, so your description of your experience may be immensely valuable to someone.

Particularly where contracts are concerned, I suspect we tend to be a bit tentative as a group, so your experience is a good heads-up for us all.

Thank you for being so open and honest about your experience. That isn't easy, I know.


Minna said...

I really appreciate your candidness regarding partnerships. As a new entrepreneur, I am taking this advice to heart and to paper.

Thank you!