Returns, Art Storage, and Archiving

Artwork is often created during the collaborative process and often as an end product in artist and community collaborations.

Your project may end with a final performance, a parade, a reading, an exhibit or another art form. It is usually during this last hurrah that people start to burn out. You and your staff and volunteers go full force into ensuring the event is as great as it can be, and it is easy to lose steam after that. In your final event planning, ensure you have delegated or planned for a cleanup team and someone to return any items rented or used that do not belong to your organization.

Process-Based Artwork

Artwork that is created during the project is often shared within the workshop space – on bulletin boards or in display cases. Sometimes the artwork is stored in participant files or journals or lockers. In some cases participants take the art they made home with them at the end of each session. At the end of an artist and community collaboration, one of the hardest things to do is deal with the artwork itself.

If you choose to keep some (or all) of the pieces created, you need to find a way and a place to store the work. If the work is digital, will be stored on a computer or a storage device? Who will get a copy of the work, and who will be responsible for storing the contents and ensuring they are accessible in the future?

For visual art, are you willing to store it at your home? Does your organizing partner have a space where they could store it? You will want to choose an en vironment that is cool and dry and where other storage items will not be stacked upon it. If you consider keeping all the work, ask yourself, “Why am I keeping this art?” and “What is the value of keeping this art?” If the value is in learning from the process or a model for future projects, you may want to photograph all the pieces rather than keeping them. You may also want to curate a few key pieces to keep as examples and do something else with the rest of the art. Do not let piles of unclaimed art sit in the art studio. It suggests to participants that the work is not valued. Find a proper place to store it, or throw it away.

If you decide you do not want the art, it could go back to the person who created it. One way to do this is to announce to the group at the end of the project where they can pick up their artwork. A table designated “to take home” has been successful. Simply place items that participants can take home on the table once you have archived the work. Choose a deadline, such as the end of the month, and let participants know that any artwork not picked up will be given to others or thrown away.

If the participants choose not to take their art and you do not want to store it, there are a few other options.

  1. If the work is appropriate, consider mailing the art to a person or organization that supported the project. This could be a CD of music, the script of a scene from a play or visual art.
  2. Search for a permanent home for the work.
  3. Donate or throw it away.
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