SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (KVEO) — They say the first year for a new business is always the hardest — and with the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, that’s especially true.
But one art gallery is celebrating its one-year anniversary and the director and artists say they feel optimistic for the future.
The Art Business Incubator opened a year ago to provide artists with support to sustain themselves and thrive in the local economy.
Like other small businesses across the RGV, it was hard hit by the forced shutdown due to COVID-19. But it has managed to survive and hosted an art festival in celebration of its anniversary.
“I think for us it was actually lucky it was in the first year because it didn’t affect our sales exponentially, vs our fifth year when people know us and are coming in every day,” Art Business Incubator Program Director Alexa Ray said.
The gallery showcases the work of four artists and provides them with tools and resources to develop their business skills.
Through the training, they have learned how to showcase their work through other avenues while the incubator remained closed.
“I’ve also tried to use social media to promote myself and it has been a huge challenge adjusting but it’s been a definite learning experience,” Chelsea Fedigan, an artist who displays her work at the ABI said.
Rae says the act of purchasing art is generally impulsive, and people tend to buy after seeing a piece that speaks to them.
“It needs to be more interactive,” she said. “So our online sales weren’t as good as gallery sales even during that time.”
But since reopening, she says sales are steadily increasing as more people are escaping to the island as a break from a stressful year.
Another artist took the early days of the pandemic as an opportunity to recharge.
“Personally, I feel like the pandemic kind of gave me a little bit of a break and I kind of came back to my art with fresh eyes,” Sarah Truman said.
Now the artists are preparing for their final show before they move on after their year with the program.
The incubator is accepting applications for new artists to join in February.