Pledge aims to support local artists

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:46 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Columbia city officials have launched a program called the Art Purchase Pledge, aimed at encouraging residents and businesses to purchase at least one piece of local art each year.

“When people support local art, there will be more artists to create original works allowing local galleries in town to be more successful,” said Lorah Steiner, executive director of Columbia’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Steiner introduced the Art Purchase Pledge at the recent Chamber Business Expo, where she persuaded 40 businesses to sign the pledge.

Steiner said that by signing, businesses and individuals can raise their awareness of the art community by receiving e-mail updates on gallery receptions and art shows. The Columbia Art League is promoting the program with a link on its Web site,, that leads to a sign-up sheet.

There are few venues that sell art in Columbia. While a few boutiques feature local art and places such as restaurants and banks display art on a regular basis, the closing of a number of galleries in recent years has left residents and visitors with fewer options for buying art.

More than two dozen visual artists are listed on Columbia’s artist registry Web site,, but buyers usually must contact the artists privately.

Leela and George Jashnani, owners of Travelodge Columbia, say they are active supporters of the arts in Columbia. They have hung art from the Columbia Art League in their hotels.

“We decided to sign the pledge to formalize our support of the arts,” Leela Jashnani said. “At a Columbia Art League reception, we purchased a painting to fulfill our pledge.”

As part of her campaign to elicit support for the pledge, Steiner emphasizes that buying a piece of local art does not mean you have to buy a $30,000 handmade painting. There are many options for under $100.

“The art pledge was a way to create awareness about the importance of art and about art as being accessible,” Steiner said.

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