One of the struggles that pops up in conversation after conversation with artists around the world is isolation. Artists want to have the time and space to get lost in their own creative visions and fantasies — but too much time and space leads to loneliness, which can stunt and warp the creative process. The balancing act between being “connected” and being “creative” seems to be elusive.
In response to this struggle (and others, like financial security, respect, and creative license), a team of Raleigh artists created a tool to support artists in their studio and in their social / networking lives. Au Courant, an online magazine devoted to the Raleigh arts scene, encourages the appreciation and interest in visual, literary, and performing arts, as well as offer tools, reference information, and resource services to the local art community.
Au Courant spawned from a single discussion between Brandon Spence and Marwen El Hicheri. As they recounted the story, they laughed, admitting that they didn’t really think that the other person was serious. But both of them were serious:
The idea to create an online art magazine came together when a few artists and friends wanted to make sure that our fellow creatives—and ourselves—had a voice in the city to promote our work. What better idea than an online magazine to get our work “out there.” We didn’t have to spend too much time talking about the idea and there was no need to convince anyone. Everybody was on board pretty quickly.
From Brandon, Marwen, and the rest of of the Au Courant team on why they chose “Au Courant” as the name:
We came up with quite a few names before narrowing it down to “Au Courant.” The name encompasses everything we were looking for as an art magazine: staying up to date, in touch with what’s going on, or being fully informed of what the art community in town is up to. The other reason is, well… admit it, the name has a really nice ring to it.
The format for the magazine has been streamlined twice to hone its focus on select high quality articles and easy use. Currently Au Courant is only published online, but there are visions for print editions in the future.
The editors set the rule that articles are not to be critical nor negative but to be positive and engaged promotion of local artists. The obvious care that is taken to discuss and interpret each artist’s work creates an atmosphere that encourages artists to support each other — rather than viewing each other as “competition.”
As Brandon put it:
We devote so much time and energy to this magazine because we want people to be as excited about an artist’s work as we are.
The foundational premise of writing and publishing these articles is to promote exceptional local artists to an ever-diversifying, ever-growing range of local readers — who will in turn attend local art events with informed vigor. Artists continually add to the magazine’s readership promoting articles about them on their own websites and social media platforms.
But greater attendance at art events does not necessarily mean more sales. Nor does it mean increased respect for “artist” as a career choice. So what is the true importance of this exposure?
By creating a single platform to learn about local artists, Au Courant congeals these emerging, interdisciplinary, and fringe artists into a self-defined (and nurturing) cultural force that exists outside of institutional approval.
Connecting the nodes of individual artists (and their networks) to one another creates a bonded sense of camaraderie — and camaraderie is what transforms isolated voices into change agents.
Their Artists Directory page is a great resource to connect with the wide array of artists living and working in Raleigh.
Also, Au Courant is always looking for contributors and interns! Submit article proposals or your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.