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Arts Council's '$100 & Under Art Market' returns for First Friday Art Walk

The Springfield Regional Arts Council's $100 & Under Art Market returns tonight at the Springfield Art Museum as part of the First Friday Art Walk.
Poster design courtesy Springfield Regional Arts Council
The Springfield Regional Arts Council's '$100 & Under Art Market' returns tonight at the Springfield Art Museum as part of the Dec. 2022 First Friday Art Walk.

Leslie Forrester, executive director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council, joined KSMU's Randy Stewart on Arts News to talk about the return of the agency’s annual “$100 & Under Art Market” at First Friday Art Walk on December 2 at Springfield Art Museum.

Leslie Forrester, executive director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council, joined us this morning on Arts News to talk about the return of the agency’s annual “$100 & Under Art Market.”

“We're kicking off the holiday season with our annual holiday '$100 & Under Art Market,' which will feature 22 artist vendors,” Forrester says.

“They’re all local artists/vendors, and you can start your holiday shopping with us.”

This year the Art Market, one of the featured events for the December First Friday Art Walk tonight [Friday, Dec. 2], takes place in the lobby of the Springfield Art Museum, 1111 E. Brookside Drive near the intersection of National Avenue and Bennett Street.

“They are graciously opening their doors for us to host (the Art Market) throughout the museum," Forester says. "And in those lobby spaces you can see art on the walls of the museum as well as pick up something from a local artist.”

Since the Arts Council is publicizing it as a “return,” I asked Forrester how many years the "$100 & Under Art Market" has taken place — a slightly difficult question to answer when she tries to factor in the COVID shutdown.

“We did it a smaller version of it last year," Forrester says. "And so this is like, we're really bringing it all the way back, and (in) a bigger space that allows us to have essentially double the number of artists that we've ever had in the past.

"We started it out at the Creamery (Arts Center, the Arts Council’s headquarters) in our little gallery space, just to test it out and see what happened. And right out of the gate, we were full up — right from the start.”

The "$100 & Under Art Market" is exactly what the name indicates, says Forrester: art objects and items available for sale for $100 or less, as created by local artists.

“It’s very accessible,” Forrester says, “and it's for the holidays, but you're not going to see just a bunch of Santas and reindeer. You'll see some of that, too, but you'll see really special, unique, one-of-a-kind gifts. And the artists that are represented are bringing all kinds of things: resin and jewelry and painting and ceramics. I mean, you name it. We've got 22 artists that will be excited to see you.”

Over the life of the "$100 & Under Art Market," the promotion has raised almost $10,000. “And 75 percent of that is all into the artists’ pockets,” Forrester says. “We keep a little bit, obviously, to help pay the bills to produce it. But the vast majority of the money that you're spending tonight will be investing in local artists.”

For tonight’s [Dec. 2] art market, the Springfield Regional Arts Council is partnering with Ozarks Technical Community College, which Forrester notes has been “a long-term partner for this particular project, because they're training all kinds of entrepreneurs, including artists. So this was basically an open call to apply, and we got way more applications than we had space for, which was great.”

She says they “juried” the number of applicants down, “but really it was open to anybody. And so these are the final group that was selected.”

Forrester says there are also offering a couple of promotions tonight: a free tote bag (borrowing a page from the public broadcasting playbook!) to the first 50 people through the door; and 50 percent off the cost of a membership in the Arts Council, which, Forrester says, provides “goodies including things like tote bags, access to ArtsFest on Walnut Street for free, and all kinds of other good things. So there are a lot of reasons to come out tonight.”

Forrester, who has headed the Arts Council throughout the COVID era, says she is very pleased to see things “reopening" again.

She says, "I think it's been a really interesting year. And it’s just a really amazing thing to be back in our spaces again and doing that with patrons in the space with us. I went to the opening night of 'Aladdin' (at Hammons Hall) this week, and there's just something about being in a room together and being able to do that again after being away. I feel like more of us are NOT taking it for granted, right? It was no big deal before — we could all just go do whatever.”

However, she acknowledges that with new COVID variants appearing, we never know when the next disruption to our daily lives might come along. Thus, it’s good to see people taking advantage of the fact that everything is open again.

Arts organizations lost a great deal of ground in programming and fundraising during the COVID shutdown, Forrester says.

“Arts organizations are working really hard to build back, and they're doing a lot of work," Forrester explains. "But it's still something that we need to be mindful of and investing in, whether it's a ticket or buying a piece of art or even just a year-end donation. I think we're gaining a back a lot of the lost ground, but we still need the investment (by the public). That's going to be a crucial thing if we want to see the arts grow and really thrive in the new year. Those patrons that care about it or have any even an inkling of interest in it — whether it's because your child is into theater or are you love going to see a symphony performance — we've got to invest in it. And I see that coming back. I saw that the other night at Hammons Hall, and so I'm really excited to see what the New Year brings with that.”

For more information, call the Springfield Regional Arts Council at 417-862-2787, or visit

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.