Almost two years ago, a few of my artist friends and I began meeting on a monthly basis to share information about marketing opportunites, materials resources, and personal experience in the "art world." Our group has remained small by choice, so that our conversations can be productive and supportive within the confines of 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Having the encouragement and assistance of like minded friends has been a benefit to me in both tangible and intangible ways.
I also feel pretty fortunate to be part of an ENORMOUS art group...the internet. I've connected with artists that I've never met, but admire, and have learned a lot from information shared in blogs, on social media, and on web sites. I now consider my time on the computer to be part of my continuing education. The only difficulty is confining the time spent to an hour or two at the most.