Posts Tagged ‘Carolina Arts Unleashed’

Bringing “Carolina Arts Unleashed” a Blog by Tom Starland, Editor/Publisher of “Carolina Arts Back” from the Dead

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

The shock of losing my blog, Carolina Arts Unleashed, was about as much of a shock that it could be recovered and how soon it was back – thanks to our Super Blog Guru Zelda Ravenel. And, thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, which keeps track of 435 billion web pages – including Carolina Arts.

I’ve used the Wayback Machine in the past to check out how some people have tried to change their history or make people forget about it by “upgrading” their website. I just didn’t think about it when we lost Carolina Arts Unleashed. I guess I just wasn’t thinking clearly. It’s a good thing others, who know alot more about how the Internet works are around for folks like me who don’t have a clue about any of it – other than using it as a tool for communication. What hurt the most was that I had forgotten what was all there to be lost.

I haven’t been using Carolina Arts Unleashed that much in the last year or so as I’m posting more items at our blog Carolina Arts News. We post items people send me to pass on to our readers, where as posts at Carolina Arts Unleashed usually are generated by me – which takes more time – time I don’t seem to have much of these days. As is – Carolina Arts Unleashed has been up more than a week now and I’m just finding time to make my first posting post lost/return.

Unfortunately, while the blog went missing we lost our spot in the rankings of the Internet search engines. I’m not sure we’ll ever get back to where we were, I guess it all depends on how people discover what we have on the blog. Our Super Blog Guru tells me that all the links people made to different post we had there should all still be functional – I hope they are and I’m sorry for any that don’t work, but I guess the good thing is they can now be re-made.

Well that’s all for now. It’s good to be back.

Taking a Look at Marketing Techniques in the Carolinas The Press Release

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

112marketing-logo

This year we’re taking a detailed look at how the visual art community in the Carolinas is marketing itself. This is based on a piece I first posted atCarolina Arts Unleashed on Jan. 12, 2012. I borrowed a technique from comedian Jeff Foxworthy who tells his audience – “You might be a redneck if….”. I used the phrase, “You might be pretty bad at marketing when…”. You can see this post at this link.

There’s a lot to read and absorb here, but I think there is something here from which anyone can learn and a lot for some folks to learn. We offer it so people can do a better job, which will make our paper better to read and hopefully leads to more visitors and customers for all.

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about a press release:

“A press release, news release, media release, press statement or video release is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy. Typically, they are mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks.”

I’ll go along with that with a few exceptions in this case. Don’t send us a fax (we unhooked it) and we’d rather receive info by e-mail than the regular mail. We are not accepting press releases through Facebook.

Without looking further at Wikipedia, I can tell you one thing a press release is not – it’s not a paid ad or paid advertising and the word ad has nothing to do with the words press release.

Also, I’m mostly interested in improving the press releases I receive, so we’re talking about a press release about a visual art exhibit or a visual art related event taking place in the Carolinas (North or South Carolina) for our monthly newspaper Carolina Arts or one of our other blogs, Carolina Arts News or Carolina Clay Resource Directory – each has their own area of focus. But this info should be good for other media outlets, but remember – they’re all different.

Which brings up one of the basic rules about press releases – know who you are sending them to. There is no reason to send a press release to someone who is not going to be interested in using it. A good example is the numerous press releases we get about exhibits taking place in California, New York or South Dakota. Those people could have saved their efforts by just looking at our name or our paper. Have you ever seen any articles in Carolina Arts about exhibits in South Dakota?

We also receive press releases from performing arts groups on a daily basis. They just don’t get it – we’re just visual arts unless the performing arts are involved with the visual arts.

So it’s well worth spending some time figuring out who is going to be receptive to your press release. That may involve reading the publication or calling to see if they would be interested in receiving your news. And, it won’t hurt finding out how and when they would like to receive it. It may only take a few minutes to find out when the deadline is, what format they would like to receive the press release in and where you should send it. You may even find out what they are really interested in – what gets them excited and what they are not interested in receiving.

Some people who think of themselves as “publicity” people like to just collect contacts – e-mail or mailing addresses. They don’t care where they come from or where they are going. They might even brag on the number they have on file, but for all they know 50 percent of them could be worthless and never see the light of day beyond a delete button or the trash can. It’s not a contest to see how many outlets you send your release to – it’s about how many outlets use the info you send.

And no matter what kind of list you have you should try to update it at least once a year. There has been a lot of turnover in the media in the last few years.

If you’re going to lose sleep at night worrying about whether your press release was received by the right person or at all, you can always ask for confirmation. If you sent it in the form of a letter – you can give your phone number or an e-mail address as a way for the receiver to get back in touch with you. If you sent it by e-mail – make sure you have a return e-mail address – one you read on a regular basis. Don’t worry if it’s a long distance call – the media should have that covered in one way or another.

If you don’t hear back about a confirmation request – give them a call to see if they got it after a few days. It doesn’t hurt and you’ll know if they got it or not – and make more personal contacts.

The Format

Speaking for Carolina Arts – don’t send your press release as a PDF or Tiff, which means you are just sending a picture of a press release that has to be further processed in order to use it. Just send it in plain text in the body of an e-mail so it can be easily copied and pasted into the files to be used. Why e-mail instead of a letter? What media outlet wants to spend time scanning or re-typing your letter?

Keep it simple. There is no need to send text in colors, fancy fonts, or in an eye-catching layout – we just want to copy and paste. Do not use all caps to make words or names seem more important. You don’t need to put words or sections in bold.

If you are sending photos do not imbed them in PDFs or in Tiffs of your press release. Send them as attachments and make sure you identify them. I hate nothing more than spending time requesting info about images sent in a return e-mail or phone call.

The W’s

You know about the who, what, where, when and why. At least I hope you do. They’re important in any good press release, but in some that I receive one or two is sometimes left out or overlooked. I’d add two more that are important, but not always possible – well written.

Including all the W’s are important but the why and well written may make the difference between having your press release just included or highlighted.

Your press release is competing with many more press release and space is always limited in some form or another. In our case, during any given month several hundred exhibits are being presented. That also means the public will have hundreds of exhibits to choose from – if they think going to an exhibit is worth their limited time. If you’re presenting your exhibit in a small community far from other urban centers you may have a captive audience, but who doesn’t need more visitors. And, I would think the number of visitors to an exhibit may have some relationship to the number of buyers or donors you will also attract.

To come up with your why, you might ask yourself a series of questions that the public might be asking themselves in deciding if they should go to your exhibit – if they see notice of it in the media.

What’s so special about this exhibit? Is it the annual exhibit by an artist who is a regular member of a gallery? Is it just the latest exhibit of new works by an artist’s owned gallery? Is it an exhibit of an artist who has not exhibited in ten years and shows a major new shift in direction by the artist? Is it an exhibit by a nationally known artist who has never been shown in your city? Or, is it an exhibit by a new group of emerging artists, which sometimes means ground floor prices? These are just a few examples of question people may ask themselves before deciding to go to an exhibit.

Remember, you or your group decided to give an artist or a group of artists an exhibition over many other artists – you must have had a reason. If your reason was that it was just their turn – coming up with the why may be very difficult.  But someone made the decision – they must have had a reason for their selection. Unfortunately, I read a lot of press release which offer no reason for why I should go see this exhibit.

Now just including the who, what, where, when and why, may not be enough to get your press release published or read by the public. Putting all those elements into a well written press release may also give you an advantage to reaching the top of the heap.

My expectations for receiving well written press releases has been lowered over the past 25 years, mostly because many of the folks sending these press releases: were just assigned the task, only send out a few in a year’s time, let the artist write the bulk of it, are unpaid and untrained, think “art speak” is the way to communicate to the public, perform the task at the last minute, don’t use spell-check, don’t let another person edit what they have written, don’t read back over what they have written, or any number of reasons.

We even deal with a few venues that think if they have to explain to you who the artist is, beyond providing their name – they’re not really interested in seeing you in their gallery. They may be some of the lucky few who deal with artists that are that important and have no problem selling the work they put on exhibition. If you’re one of those lucky people you wouldn’t have ever started reading this posting.

My question to those few would be – so, you’re not interested in educating or developing new customers? You’ve got them all in the palm of your hand?

To me, every press release is an opportunity to educate and inform the possible readers about your venue, the artist, the medium they work in, the works being presented in the exhibit, and why the reader should come see your exhibit over all others. Some people take advantage of that opportunity – many don’t.

One of the trends I’ve noticed over the last five to ten years is people using a charity as their why, by announcing that 5%, or 10% of proceeds from sales from an exhibit will go to a local charity. I really don’t care for this technique – mostly because of the lack of follow-up. We never seem to hear after the exhibit is over how much money was raised for the charity. I’m all for making donations to charities, but this seems to be a why open to all kinds of problems. And, now we have some galleries who don’t present exhibits without a charity announced as their partner – whether the charity knows it or not.

The use of the visual arts in raising money for charities is a subject too large to cover in this posting. There are good examples and just as many bad ones.

Let’s go over the other W’s in the who, what, where, when and why.

The who should include: who is sending the press release, who wrote it and can answer any questions about it, who is presenting the exhibit or event (gallery, organization, institution), and who the artist is or who the artists are. Make sure all names used are spelled the same each time they are used. Make sure you have a phone number (including area code), e-mail address, and a website address included.

Even if you have sent me a press release every month for the last 12 years, you shouldn’t make short cuts assuming I will always be here. Dark forces are amassing powers to take over any day – I might not always be here. And, if you’re sending your release out in bulk – other folks who were receiving your pr last month or even last week might not hold that job today. So, my point is don’t take things for granted that the people you are sending info to know certain details.

When it comes to the what – like an exhibit. An exhibit has a beginning and ending date and perhaps a reception date. If you just send a reception date, I don’t feel it’s an exhibit at all – it’s just a party for a few hours. I can’t use that in a monthly paper. If the event is a lecture – I want to know when it begins and when it is expected to end. I’m sure readers want to know how much time they will spent if they decide to attend the lecture. Just saying it starts at 7pm isn’t enough – especially if it will end at 7:30 or go on until 11pm.

It is also important for some folks to know if the artist will be at the reception or not.

The where should include the full address of the venue including any helpful locating factors. If your gallery or art center is across from the post office – that’s an important fact. It should be pointed out if you’re located on a second floor or where you are located if your venue is in a larger building shared by other businesses or offices. Also, for some folks it would be good to know if the venue is handicap accessible. And, don’t forget to say which state you are located – both NC and SC has their share of Beauforts, Greenvilles, Columbias, and Mt. Pleasants. Our readers come from all over the county and around the world. They shouldn’t have to do any detective work to find you.

The when, again, include dates and times your exhibit is open to the public. And, you better include the hours that you are there. It doesn’t take someone more than one time to show up during published hours and find the door locked to decide not to return. If you have an emergency – post it at the door and don’t expect people to forgive multiple emergencies. So, be very careful with the dates and times you provide in a press release. I don’t like people who state that their exhibit will be up until the middle of the next month – is that always the 15th? If I’m coming from the next city over 100 miles away I want to be sure before I leave the house and are you available to take my call to ask 24/7?

The why revisited. Here’s some whys that I don’t think hold water anymore if they ever did.

Artists who say they create because they have to. What artists don’t?

Artists who are recording the world often unseen or unnoticed in our fast paced life. Maybe there’s a reason we don’t notice certain things anymore.

Venues who guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you come see the exhibit. With that kind of challenge made I’m almost always disappointed.

Press releases that include how many pets live with the artist, their species and cute names. Do we really need to know that artists are people too? That they have spouses, children and pets – oh my!

I want to know why I should go see this exhibit. I’m sure readers do too. And, I want all the information I need to do that successfully. Is that too much to ask?

If someone was showing an exhibit of early watercolor landscapes painted by Jasper Johns when he was 19, never seen in public before – would you go? Would you go see it because it was works by Johns? Would you go because you wanted to see what kind of watercolor landscapes he would paint at age 19? Would you go to confirm to yourself that all artist may start out in a place far from where they end up? Or would the phrase – never seen in public before – be the determining factor for you.

One last point about press releases is when to send them. And first on my list is don’t send them to me until you have finished and checked everything in them at least twice and then let someone else read it.

I don’t have a lot of time to waste and I doubt other media outlets do either so I start processing a press release as soon as I get it so it can be ready to be put in the paper when I start to do the layout. Nothing gets my attention more than having to revise a piece I’ve already processed because someone discovered they got a name wrong, a date wrong, a time wrong or just left something out. By the third correction, you’re pr is slipping down the line to last place. And if you need to send a correction, don’t just make the correction and send your press release over again forcing me to re-process the whole thing again instead of making a simple correction.

As far as the Carolina Arts goes I hate to say it is ever too early to send a press release – unless changes and updates will have to be made. Get it to us by deadline, but there is no reason to wait for the exact day of the deadline if you can send it early. Sending it early gets you ahead of all those who take till the last minute to send theirs.

When it comes to the blogs like Carolina Arts News – sending a press release early can be a problem as we’ll only post it once and people tend to forget things that are posted months in advance. The exception to that rule is (Call for Entry) notices. For artists, these kinds of notices can never be too early.

Don’t send your same press release to the same media outlets once a week until the day of your event. We only need it once. If you’re worried about whether we received it, follow-up on it – don’t just keep sending it.

And, when it comes to organizations or groups – make sure only one person is sending press releases. I have received them from several different people – about the same exhibit – but you wouldn’t know it by reading them. This just causes more follow-up and delays in processing.

Over the years I have warned artists who are having exhibits at commercial galleries or non-profit institutions to not take it for granted that press releases about their exhibits will be sent out or received on time – even when people say they will take care of it.

There is nothing I hate more than getting that call after an issue has been published from an artist asking me if I received a press release about their exhibit and why I didn’t publish it. And, I have to explain – we didn’t get it or it would have been there. I warn them to call or e-mail well before our deadline to make sure everything is in place for them to get the publicity they are counting on.

I don’t like taking a press release from an artist directly – I feel the venue has that right and responsibility. There are some who don’t want to be included in our paper for one reason or another. (Another blog too big to get into here.) But, I would think it is your right as an artist to request a venue to send press releases where you would like.

And finally, one solid truth about Carolina Arts. If you’re one of our supporters, which would include advertisers or people who work hard at helping spread the paper around – you do get treated better than others. You may even get a call from us asking – don’t you have an exhibit coming up? We haven’t received a press release yet. I’ve even been known to help those folks out with their press releases to make sure they have all the right info in it. In a few rare cases I have even written press releases for supporters when they were short on time to make sure something got in on time. And, don’t tell anyone this, but there have been times when supporters lost track of time and sent us a press release after the deadline and it may have made it near the top of the list to go in the paper or on a blog.

Why such special treatment? If you haven’t figured it out yet – they make the paper and all we do possible. There is no money to be made by just having people send you press releases and publishing them. We’re not Facebook, WordPress, Twitter or Blogspot – who can sell your efforts to advertisers to make millions – we need direct advertisers to make it all work.

I hope reading this helps some folks. I know it made me feel better just writing it and getting it out there – in cyber space.

Carolina Arts Enters the World of Facebook

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Well, like all things it had to happen eventually – we now have a page on Facebook. And, we invite all our readers out there to Like us. I always hoped you did anyway, but now this is a way of showing it – just like we all want you to feel the same about all our supporters who help make Carolina Arts, Carolina Arts Unleashed and Carolina Arts News possible.

This is all new stuff for us and it will take us some time to get everything just right, but hang in there with us, eventually we may even be Tweeting soon. After all, spreading information about what’s going on in the visual art community in the Carolinas is what we’re all about.

If you have a Facebook account – type Carolina Arts in the search field and pick the one with this image
CAFacebooklogo
(the one and only true Carolina Arts Facebook page).

Then Like us. Then see what we’ve posted there.

Carolina Arts has a New Site for Press Releases – Carolina Arts News

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

As usual, it always takes us longer to prepare something new than we had hoped, but we finally setup this new site, Carolina Arts News for the kind of press releases that have been filling up Carolina Arts Unleashed. We still have some work to do on the site, but it is up and running.

Why do we need a new site? Like with all things, it started with just a few press releases that came after our deadlines – too late for publication in the printer paper and too late to post on the website. Once people found that this was a second life for their late actions – more releases came – some too important to just ignore. If you give people an inch they’ll take a mile and before long things just got out of hand. Luckily, only a few people take advantage, but then others get confused about when to send info.

Our mission at Carolina Arts is to bring the most news we can about the Carolina visual art community in a timely fashion so readers can make plans to attend some of these exhibits and events, but we can’t run a 24/7 news wire service. We just don’t have the resources and time to do that – at least not while we are still producing a printed paper that has to be physically delivered throughout North and South Carolina.

So, we hope Carolina Arts News will provide that service as best we can and Carolina Arts Unleashed can get back to what it was set up to be – an outlet for my views on what’s going on out there. But, for a little bit more – we will still be bringing you news about pottery events here.

Carolina Arts Unleashed Makes It Through Its Second Year

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Well, like the guys on the Nation Public Radio show Car Talk say, you’ve just wasted two years of your life reading Carolina Arts Unleashed – that’s if you’ve been following us since the beginning. If you’re a new reader – get ready to waste some of your life – I’ve got lots to say. I almost posted 300 entries in two years.

510.2years

This fact is no surprise to those who have known me throughout my visit to South Carolina. And, after 36 years, there are some who wish I would go back to Michigan – something I hope to do this year. It will be nice to visit a state that may be hurting more than South Carolina for once.

Well, what has gone on during the last year as far as Carolina Arts Unleashed goes? I have posted more entries this year including many press releases which missed our deadlines or which were so timely they needed instant exposure. I’m planning on starting a separate blog just for those instances – so that Carolina Arts Unleashed can get back to just commentary, exhibit reviews, and previews of upcoming events taking place in the Carolina visual art community – by me.

I tried leaving the “Comments On” switch for one of my entries about donating art to charity auctions – which drew a few comments from people who actually read my comments, but like I expected – most comments offered were disguised links to sites selling all kinds of things – many were flattering to me or the site in hopes I would leave them up. But, it turned out to just be more work for me in administering the blog. I don’t have time for that.

Like I’ve said from the start and in between – if you would like to make a comment about something I’ve said – send it in an e-mail to (info@carolinaarts.com) and I’ll post it on the blog – if you’re not a potty mouth and the comments pertain to what I’m talking about. I’ll even go so far as to say that if someone wanted to have access to our readers on a subject which pertains to the visual art community in the Carolinas – about a subject I haven’t hit on – be my guest. All reasonable requests will be considered – unless you’re just wanting to call me a loud-mouthed idiot. Remember – it’s my blog. If you’re just wanting to plug something or sell something – send in a press release like everyone else.

I’ve tried this year to use more logos and photos to break up all the words, so I hope my entries are more inviting and less daunting as people look at the length of some of the entries. But some things take a lot of words to get through. But, I’m not going to do that this time.

So, thanks to all you readers out there, I hope I post something you feel is worth reading in the future so that you really don’t feel like you’re wasting your life away at Carolina Arts Unleashed. And, don’t forget about Carolina Arts Online – our expanded web version of Carolina Arts – our printed paper.

End Of The Year 2009 – Looking Back & Forwards

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Here’s the start of last year’s comments about how bad a year 2008 turned out to be.

End Of The Year – Looking Back & Forwards
Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Well it’s happened again – one year is ending and another will soon begin. Frankly, I’m ready for 2008 to be good and gone and 2009 to begin – hopefully bringing a new era in the visual art community of the Carolinas.

Looking back it has been a rough year – $4 a gallon gas, the stock market tumble, the collapse of the financial market, recession finally acknowledged, a long drawn-out election, and dwindling advertising support for Carolina Arts. It was the trickle down theory in reverse. And, although gas prices have tumbled and may continue to lower – it is but one bright spot in a bad year – other than Carolina Arts Unleashed.

You can see the entire posting at this link.

Man, except for the $4 gas and the election – there wasn’t a lot of progress made last year – in fact – it even got worse. That can’t happen again this year – can it? I hope not!

If you go back and read all of my Looking Forward, you’ll find that I had hoped to be adding Podcasts to the website about the visual art community – that didn’t happen. I guess I’m lucky I’m writing about this year – as if we survived and I guess we did. (We – meaning the collective Carolina Arts family.)

So looking ahead to next year, 2010, I think we’ll still be in survival mode, so I won’t even bother to mention any hopes of what new we might be adding (except for more advertising) – some people might be keeping score.

But I guess survival isn’t so bad, as so many didn’t make it over the last year and a half. A lot of commercial galleries have closed and some are just waiting for leases to end – if they can do that. Many just disappear between the time I dropped off papers one month and the time I returned the following month. There’s no note left on the door – just an empty space where there once was an art gallery. I guess people should remember that image when thinking of the glamor of owning an art gallery. It’s a hard business even in good economic years.

For one thing – I hope more people – individual artists, commercial art galleries, non-profit art galleries, art museums, arts councils, artist’s guilds or anyone buys more advertising in 2010 and I hate to add this point, but it is relevant – I hope those who buy ads – pay for them. It’s a big problem we’ve been having.

And now that I’ve mentioned advertising – we’re going to be adding display advertising to our website – inactive and active – meaning some will just be a picture ad and some will be a picture ad that can be clicked to be taken to another place. That could be to images of more artworks, a website, a blog, or an article about an event.

We need to open our fairly large (all things are relative) online audience up to advertising opportunities. A lot of folks are wondering why we haven’t already done that long ago – beyond ads from Google, but you have to remember – we’re preparing a printed newspaper every month besides our online offerings and there are only two of us.

So here’s hoping we all have a better, much better 2010.

Carolina Arts Unleashed – One Year of Blogging

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

My oh my, has it been a year already? And, what a year it was. By early fall of 2008 the economy had gone South (Why does going South mean a bad thing?) – I came South 35 years ago and I think that was a good thing. In November, the first black man was elected President of United States. Both events seemed unbelievable at the beginning of this blog’s life – May 22, 2008. Here we are today – the Carolina art community is about ready to cry “UNCLE” yet there might be light at the end of the tunnel – I hope so. The world of newspapers is at a critical breaking point and arts coverage is taking it on the chin. What’s a newspaper editor to do – especially an arts newspaper editor?

“Start a blog old man!” I would have said “young” man, but that is gone, along with the West – it’s always on fire. (Referring to the “Go West Young Man – phrase.) And, with this anniversary blog, I will have offered 100 blog entries – some short ones, a lot of long ones, and the ones most read. That’s over eight years worth of editorial commentary in the newspaper. I’m sure there are a lot of folks who wish I had never learned about the blog, but I’m glad I did.

So right off I want to share the blame with those who deserve it – those people who helped make it possible. None of the names have been changed – these people are not innocent. First off, is Linda, my better half, who is my editor, safety net, web master and debate partner. She wins a few of those debates – lucky for some you know whos. Plus, she gave me this blog for my birthday last year. Then comes Will Ravenel and his daughter Zelda Ravenel, our God-daughter who help with computer tech problems. Teri Tynes, a master blogger in New York City who helped explain what it was all about. And, let’s not forget the folks at WordPress who make it all possible – and free too. At least it’s been free so far. Still can’t figure that one out yet.

Then there are the bloggers who have provided inspiration and a daily fix of reading someone else’s ramblings, but it all goes back farther than last year. A few years ago I participated on a sort of blog/community forum called Arts Ramble of the Triangle created by Andrea Gomez in Raleigh, NC. It’s no longer in action, but that’s where the seed was planted. Will Ravenel also created a few blogs that showed me the possibilities of communicating in this mode. But, over the last year, inspiration has come on a regular basis from Teri Tynes, Meredith Haywood, Christopher RicoSusan Lenz, Samantha Henneke, Michael Klein, and Doug McAbee – check out these blogs. (Click on their names.)

I’ve also received a lot of inspiration from the ongoing battle to save the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC – which still needs financial help. And, there is always the battle to make sense of the South Carolina Arts Commission – who are they and what do they do? The real life questions. Like the fact that the Arts Commission has a board meeting scheduled for June 3, 2009. Hopefully this will be the last meeting for Linda Stern (the chair of the Commission). Will this meeting take place in Charleston, SC, this year – like years past – or will it be in Columbia, SC? Are the years of the “special” meetings in Charleston during the Spoleto Festival over? Who knows? They usually don’t post an official notice of the meetings until a few days before it takes place, but the public is always welcome – only if they know about it ahead of time. I know where to look.

I’ve learned a lot along the way about blogging over this year. I also learned that it helps when you start a blog if you have already been doing commentary for 21 years and you have a built-in audience that you can call on for readers. It also helps to have the blog attached to a website,Carolina Arts Online, which is a mega site of archived content built up over ten years. It also helps to have a monthly printed paper that has been covering the visual arts in parts of the Carolinas over the past 21 years. So, we got a lot of help in making this blog what it has become.

Now, we still have a lot to learn yet. Hopefully as this next year develops we will be adding more things which make Carolina Arts Unleashed a better place to visit. No use talking about them at this point – this old dog doesn’t learn new tricks easily.

One thing that readers seem to want is for me to turn the comments switch to on, but as I said at the beginning of doing this blog – I don’t have time to monitor comments and keep the crazies at bay. People can still e-mail (info@carolinaarts.com) me comments about anything I say – some do, and their comments are taken into account. We’ll even post them if they are good enough to add into the mix, but I started this blog for me – to give me more opportunities for commentary about what’s going on in the Carolina visual art community and a few other things. And, after some people’s worry – I only made one entry about the SC Aquarium. Imagine that.

I may try a test run with the comments switch turned on, but it will be for a limited time – so those who want to offer their 2 cents – be alert. I’m always willing to try something once.

So there you go – Happy Anniversary to Carolina Arts Unleashed! Who knows, by next year we may master the art of FaceBook, Twitter, and whatever else they come up with – so stay tuned.

First Blog

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

I am constantly amazed at technology – especially the Internet. We started posting parts of our paper (Carolina Arts) and extra articles which we didn’t have room for on a companion website in June 1999. Not long after we were posting pictures of each page of our paper – every month so everyone who visits our site could see the printed version of the paper. Now I’m writing my first blog. Not that blogs are a new thing, but I’m usually far behind the curve when it comes to taking advantage of new technology. It’s not easy for this old dog to learn new tricks. I thank my lucky stars that my better half (wife Linda) is able to pick up new technology fairly fast and then bring it down to my level – which takes months if not years in some cases.

Linda and I purchased our first computer in 1983 – an Apple IIe. It cost us a fortune back then, but it was well worth the cost and time spent learning how to take advantage of all the things it could do. Within years we had paid, what was at the time equal to a house payment to get an external hard drive with 30mbs of memory and another house payment for a 1/4mb of ram memory. Today, I can buy a laptop computer for the same price of those two items with 40 gigs of memory and 1 gig of ram – with CD/DVD players and burners, internal cameras, wireless internet connections and a host of other features – not even dreamed of back in 1983. Now, many versions of Apple computers later, we’re still trying to learn about all the things computers and the Internet can do to help us spread the word about the visual art community in North and South Carolina.

Although expressing my opinions about issues taking place in that art community is not a new thing – being able to do so without waiting for the latest issue of the paper to reach readers is – for me. It will now be possible to make comments on a weekly, daily or even hourly basis. That just blows my mind and concerns others who know me, but don’t worry, I’m pretty careful to make sure my opinions are based on solid ground. And, I have learned that those who talk when they are angry or emotional about issues – make mistakes and often end up saying things they didn’t mean to. Also, you are writing to a worldwide audience – you just can’t talk like your sitting in a local bar or in some friend’s living room. You have to bring your readers along with you on an issue – they need to know what you know and they need to know where that opinion is coming from, and that’s the beauty of a blog on the Internet – space is not a limitation – except for readers with a short attention span.

So, I hope you’ll join me on this journey and keep up with my postings. And, e-mail me your comments at (info@carolinaarts.com) – just make sure you put the word “blog” in the subject line.