Baker Artist Awards – Just X days Left! by Cara Ober

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As it stands today, there are twelve days left to ‘participate’ in the Baker Artist Awards, either as an artist or a voter. I am pretty sure that everyone who is even remotely interested in the arts within a fifty mile radius of Baltimore knows this. I keep getting self-congratulatory press releases that read like this:

“BAKER ARTIST AWARDS EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS IN FINAL WEEKS — More than 500 local artists vie for publicly chosen prizes, and $20,000 awards. With 14 days of voting left for the Baker Artist Awards, an arts competition that awards cash prizes to Baltimore-based artists, public participation in the new program has surpassed expectations of the awards’ organizers. More than 500 local artists have nominated themselves by posting portfolios online, and more than 7,000 people have registered to vote for their favorite artists on the Awards’ website.”

And, truly, this is a great thing, so they should congratulate themselves at getting so many artists on board. Of course, twenty g’s is a big chunk of change, so the motivation is in the puddin’. All of the participating artists get free websites and an easily navigable web kingdom to frolic in, along with the process. The visible online community is an amazing gift.

I also keep getting repeated requests from artists I don’t know – via regular email, facebook, and myspace with “Vote for Me!” in the sub-heading. I know this is what we’re all supposed to do, in order to bring more pageviews to the site, but it is getting obnoxious.

Let’s think strategy here: Every Baltimore artist who has already applied is going to vote for themselves. Right? There’s nothing wrong with this – I am pretty sure Barack Obama voted for himself for president. Hence, it makes good sense to send your ‘vote for me’ pleas to people who are NOT artists living in Baltimore, and who are NOT already on the site.

I know one person who sent a link to the Baker site to all of his cousins, aunts, and uncles, who then sent it to all their co-workers who were bored at work — this guy is going to clean up on votes. I don’t know if these kinds of people are going to really browse the site too much, but it definitely sends an art related message to people who normally wouldn’t care. Art awareness for the masses is never a bad thing, especially when a big cash prize is at stake.

It would also be a good strategic move, if you are trying to win votes for yourself, to email your page to artists and art professionals who live OUTSIDE of Baltimore. You have a much better shot at getting votes from this group, since there’s no conflict of interest, and you will also give Baker artists a shot of being discovered outside of Baltimore. This is good for everyone.

In the coming weeks, it is going to be very interesting to see how this thing goes. It’s the first time the prize is being awarded, so there are bound to be some unexpected bumps and hopefully some excitement.

All you Baker artists, remember – you can earn up to 10 votes yourself, by logging on to the site, posting comments, and viewing other artist’s portfolios. How about that motivation for creating a supportive online arts community? This is bribery at it’s finest – a cash-induced nice-fest of constructive criticism and compliments. But hey – the end justifies the means. This site is eliciting good, community-oriented behavior from those who usually are obsessed with self. This is a good thing.

So sign up ASAP artists, writers, and musicians who haven’t already! I have a hard time believing you exist, just like undecided voters, but there’s just a few days left to get in on the action. So do it! Just please don’t send me any ‘vote for me’ emails, ok?

Voting is being held at, and will remain open through February 1, 2009.

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