There are a few things happening lately that inspired my point of view for this conversation. On some of the online forums I belong to there has been lament after lament from teachers who are having classes cancelled due to low enrollment. I don’t usually teach so I don’t have a dog in the hunt and I rarely take quilting type classes or workshops. But I am an artist and I can add my take on this since I would only be interested in a workshop that would help me grow artistically, not stitch up a tote bag.
Many reasons given are over saturation, unskilled teachers, shops and guilds unwilling to pay the going rate, the economy, the modern quilt movement, online class availability although some say those are suffering too. And maybe thrown in is the possibility that students are just plain tired of making tote bags and placemats.
The last thing that happened that made my fingers itch to write this down was clearing out older books and magazines for the thrift shop. I can tell you I have been hard pressed to part with some of the best. Right up there at the top are the 9 year old Quilting Arts magazines when Pokey was still at the helm. Those magazine articles really pushed the envelope and defined art quilting….or the art of quilting to be seen as fine art. There was no concentration on thinking that every Jane and Mary Sue could follow the bouncing ball and create true art. They weren’t How-To project magazines. They were process, inspiration and technique magazines.The best of the best in the industry wrote articles, defined terminology and made you want to see more. A tiny portion of the readers turned into some of the best themselves because of their hunger to understand this way of turning needle arts into an art form.
And then I think many of the top name teachers sort of got the Quilting Queen Bee syndrome and stopped growing and making not only their classes but their work exciting and inspirational. Who wants to take a workshop from someone who is so full of their own self importance that they don’t notice their students? After all, aren’t the students the bottom line most important part of the equation? Successful students equate to successful teachers, hands down.
Successful artists take workshops and never stop learning and exploring their chosen field. Crafters simply move along to the next big thing that they can find the supplies at the local craft store to make.