Alex Beall is a freelance writer based in California.
A Pay As You Wish day pass helps starving artists and broke college students afford the College Art Association's conference.
What's the great idea? Pay As You Wish pass
Who's doing it? College Art Association
What's involved? Often, after a conference begins, there are still empty seats available in sessions that the association has already paid for. CAA sought to fill those seats with people who could benefit from the education by offering a Pay As You Wish day pass, at a suggested price of $25, during its most recent meeting in New York City.
“That’s the real beauty of it, in that it doesn’t really cost us anything. If we have empty seats, I would much rather figure out a way to have an artist in Brooklyn or somebody in a graduate program at Hunter College or anybody else—I’d rather get those individuals in those seats to be able to take advantage of it,” Executive Director and CEO Hunter O’Hanian says.
The pass provided an affordable option for members who couldn’t cover full registration and introduced nonmembers to CAA—particularly for independent artists, university faculty, and students.
“We were able to introduce in a short period of time a whole new generation of young visual artists and art scholars to CAA, what it actually means, and the level of research that it does,” O’Hanian says. “And hopefully they’ll come back and become members.”
What are people saying? About 1,500 people took advantage of the day pass, each paying an average of around $22. Because members often pay out of pocket for membership and meetings, registration costs can be a barrier, O’Hanian says, especially as colleges and universities are limiting available professional development resources. The pass responds to this need, allowing individuals to attend at least part of the conference at a price they can afford.
“To the extent that financial models at universities are changing, we at CAA have to make some changes to be able to make the content we put together accessible to them,” O’Hanian says.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Artists' Day Out."]