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Artists at McGuffey Art Center get free Ting gigabit Internet

McGuffey Art Center artists get crazy fast fiber Internet from Ting

Light House Studio

Art is made to push boundaries. That’s nothing new, but when artists get

their hands on the latest tools, tech and Internet access, they can continue their important work and even grow into boundary-pushing small businesses.

McGuffey Art Center enables that exact kind of work. One of the oldest artist-run associations in the country, McGuffey makes its home in the old McGuffey Elementary School building located at the corner of West Market Street and 2nd Street North West, just off the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA. Here, 40 studios, five galleries and a gift shop are open to the public six days a week, free of charge.

We got the chance to sit down with Leah Stoddard, Development Director of McGuffey and talk about this thriving community of artists, exhibitors, teachers, and small business owners.

Ting is a proud supporter of McGuffey Art Center and supplies a free gigabit connection for artists to use in their studios and for staff to better further the mission of McGuffey: for dedicated artists to practice their craft and to pass on the creative spirit.


Practicing art at McGuffey

The studios in-house at McGuffey host over 50 working visual and performing artists. These studios are bright, beautiful, renovated classrooms from the days of the McGuffey School building (1916). These artists in residence hold open studio hours, literally with the doors to their studio open, and visitors are encouraged to drop in and speak with artists about their work.

This creates an incredible level of access, both for artists and the community. Artists are able to strike up conversations about their work, and network with visitors, which can lead to sales on their online stores and even the commissioning of work.

“Through McGuffey, artists can speak directly to the public,” said Stoddard. “The wonderful part about that is where once people might have had a general vision of an artist, they can see that there’s a person working hard in the arts as a career. That demystifies the profession and it creates access.”

Members at McGuffey extend beyond those who work in studio, with over 100 Associate Artists work off-site, participating in exhibitions, teaching classes at McGuffey, and participating in Association meetings, extending McGuffey far into the local community and into the social bedrock of Charlottesville.

McGuffey also offers an Incubator studio program to emerging artists. Through an application process, McGuffey incubating artists have a chance to work in the studio and receive vital mentorship from McGuffey artists, all while developing a body of work to be shown in exhibition.

Ting gigabit at McGuffey: building a network

As soon as visitors get to McGuffey they’ll see Ting information prominently featured, welcoming them to connect to the network for free.

“Our Wi-Fi is free to everybody and that makes people feel more welcome,” said Stoddard.

Free Internet access can enhance a visitor’s experience, letting them share photos on their social networks or with family and friends. Not only is this important for the visitor, but it helps encourage more foot traffic at McGuffey Art Center, which translates into greater access and opportunities for artists.

“A lot of our artists do imaged-based sourcing, and with the service we had before they couldn’t work from their studios. For large image files, sourcing and websites, better Internet means they can manage their own images and they can do that work in this building.”

A fast, reliable Internet is important for the day-to-day work of any artist. Pulling images off the web, uploading content to digital portfolios and running an online shop and website all require a reliable Internet connection that can keep up.

The artist as small business owner

The Ting Team had the chance to drop in on McGuffey artist Brielle DuFlon during her open studio hours. Having gotten involved with McGuffey through the Incubator studio program, today DuFlon is one of McGuffey’s artists in residence, working in a bright, open, central studio space with a view of McGuffey’s front lawn (which also has free Ting Wi-Fi, by the way!).

DuFlon works with textiles to create tapestries and also creates installation pieces. Her lifestyle brand Window & Wing includes upcycled clothing pieces as well as jewelry. The Internet is integral to the work DuFlon does as an artist and as the owner of a small online business and store. With Ting gigabit in her studio, DuFlon is able to upload images, update her websites and maintain a strong digital presence.

The Internet has ushered in a new level of self-starting and entrepreneurship. The ability of an artist to retain control of their work, image and distribution online is incredible with the right tools.