In our coverage and support of local nonprofits over the years, we’ve met numerous organizations promoting the economic success of local artists. One of these organizations is BOOM Concepts in Garfield, PA. Led by co-founders Thomas Agnew and Darrel Kinsel, BOOM Concepts develops Pittsburgh artists into flourishing professionals while lending a helping hand to nearby nonprofits.
Helping Artists Become Financially Independent
With campus locations all over Pittsburgh neighborhoods, BOOM Concepts offers spaces and resources to each visiting artist’s creative and professional goals. BOOM Concepts uses its flagship location in the Penn Avenue Arts and Business District to host monthly art exhibitions during Garfield’s Unblurred First Friday gallery crawl, in addition to screenings, community meetings, music performances, fundraisers, and more.
Through all of its efforts, BOOM Concept’s biggest focus remains preparing artists to participate in Unblurred. On those nights, BOOM Concepts receives a wider audience for its programming and artists on display, and Agnew and Kinsel encourage their artists to capitalize on the event.
“Unblurred is a major opportunity for our artists,” Agnew explains. Once people step into the gallery, the artists have a chance to plug other events they have scheduled later on. “Artists can host two more events in the month. Keeping the events fresh, engaging, and enticing to the public teaches the artists to think outside of the box to become even more creative.”
Education Opportunities Lead to Job Opportunities
By tapping into what excites the public, artists enjoy more success in their programming. But Agnew and Kinsel push them to develop even further through hands-on education. With Agnew and Kinsel leading the way, the artists who come through the BOOM Concepts doors are exposed to a wide range of talents, thanks to the professional experiences Agnew and Kinsel share. Outside of managing BOOM Concepts, Agnew runs an online publication called Jenesis while simultaneously managing a full workload as a digital artist and consultant. Kinsel, meanwhile, has a background in both the visual arts and the theater world.
In the interest of supporting Pittsburgh artists, BOOM Concepts offers:
Micro-residencies to artists who are already living in Pittsburgh
Space for artists to show off their artwork and develop public programming
Learning opportunities for the business side of art, covering topics like press for events, how to properly hang artwork, artwork presentation, networking, and pricing
Through these and other practices, BOOM Concepts teaches young artists how to generate income sources to help them live entirely off their skills as an artist. BOOM Concepts shows them how to find:
Full-time positions using their talents
“This is exactly what we would have wanted when we were younger,” Agnew explains. “Artist development, business development—we try to pass these skills on to as many people as we can. I’ve always believed that artists should have a fighting chance to grow, so I always try to do whatever I can to help people get an extra look or an extra listen.”
A Haven for Nonprofits and Events
BOOM Concepts offers its multi-purpose gallery space for events to other local nonprofits. By curating shows and offering unique programming, BOOM Concepts has hosted:
Youth organization meetings
Grant writing events
Meetings for nonprofit leaders
With such an extensive use of the space, BOOM Concepts has made a mission of uniting the community together. According to Agnew, supporting the arts and serving other nonprofits is nearly identical. “Art comes in many forms. Some people see it in numbers, some see it in word, some see it in paints. It comes out in different ways.” But the most common art forms happen right in front of us, and we often miss it. “We all want to be entertained. You go to shows. You go to concerts. You come to the galleries. Art is responsible for so many of the things going on in the world right now.”
BOOM Concepts In Action
One of BOOM Concepts’ success stories comes from an artist who was caught for defacing property with graffiti. Since coming to BOOM Concepts, he has completely turned his life around. Thanks to the nonprofit, he’s uncovered skills he never knew he had. Now he spends his day teaching art to others, screenprinting, and working on design projects. Focusing on his talents and honing in on profitable jobs has helped him become financially stable while still having an outlet for his art.
One by one, BOOM Concepts creates new opportunities for artists. To learn more about the organization and its scheduling, visit their website.
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