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Melissa Richardson Banks: The Consultant Championing the Democratization of Art
Episode 17821st June 2022 • Not Real Art • Crewest Studio
00:00:00 01:01:18

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The democratization of art does not mean dumbing it down. It means increasing access for artists and audiences alike, an objective that today’s podcast guest, Melissa Richardson Banks, is super passionate about.

Melissa is an arts marketing specialist, podcast host, photographer, and the founder of CauseConnect, an art consulting firm that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of “doing business by doing good.” She specializes in creating strategic marketing partnerships and is known for designing innovative, cost-effective solutions that produce results, from raising funds to raising awareness. Known as Downtown Muse for her photography of the Los Angeles and Houston art districts, Melissa is also an independent cultural producer. She plans, creates, funds, and executes events and projects, from museum exhibits, community festivals, and virtual and in-person speaker series to classical music concerts, influencer dinners, and salons. To date, Melissa has produced, marketed, managed, or funded over 100 museum exhibitions and managed several national tours of traveling exhibitions and art shows. 

In today’s episode, Melissa shares her observations on the legitimacy of so-called “real art” and offers some insight into her creative journey, from middle school artist to arts marketing specialist. We also touch on the dissolving divide between fine and commercial art, why what you call yourself as an artist matters, and the story behind her creative partnership with longtime comedian and art collector Cheech Marin. Tune in to the episode to find out how Melissa elevates and supports artists—then learn how you can do the same.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The importance of arts education and making art more accessible
  • Why Melissa believes that art is all around us; all we have to do is seek it out
  • Hear the story of the first time she acknowledged herself as an artist
  • Reflecting on the dissolving divide between fine and commercial art
  • Why what you call yourself matters, and the growing number of titles artists can choose from
  • The fascinating story of how she came to manage Cheech Marin’s art collection
  • How the two launched the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture, now open in Riverside, CA
  • Why Melissa believes her role is to promote and support artists over herself
  • Debunking some of the biggest misconceptions about Chicano art
  • The intangible services Melissa has provided for artists over the years, and the tangible projects that are most significant to her
  • The multitude of ways that you can support artists, from buying art to sharing their work
  • A glimpse into the joy that Melissa’s art collection brings her on a daily basis

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