arts · arts, movies, music, pop culture · movies · music

to fund or not to fund

I love The Arts. That’s a given.

I also love the idea of discovering a new talent and finding a connection with the artist/musician.

Back in the olden days, artists had to find a supporter, a patron. They were supported by commissioned works, sometimes selling out doing what they CAN do for what they LOVE to do. That’s the game we play still this day. How many working artists or musicians do you know who make their entire living at it? I know a few. and they will all say they bust their butts and for what? some days it’s all they can do to throw in the towel. Other days they wouldn’t trade it for the world.

recently, Neil Gaiman (best living author in the world and my hero) and Amanda Palmer (a musician and his wife who is by default my hero) posted a fundraiser to raise money to pay for a project. People get nuts about these things. Aren’t they rich? Aren’t they famous? How dare they ask for money! Harumph Harumph Harumph!

Honestly, I have long felt that this is exactly how things should be funded. There was also a day when record studios were the only ones making decisions about what people were going to listen to and people bought these records because THAT’S ALL THERE WAS TO LISTEN TO. You listen to the radio and they are basically TELLING you this is what’s hot and you WILL like it.

Nowadays with the plethora of free services and an exponentially larger base of indie studios and dude with a computer recordings, we are overwhelmed with choices of what to listen to. How does that affect our ability to discover? Do really talented people get lost in the shuffle so to speak? And because so much music is now “free” will it be detrimental to those who want to make a living at it?

Visual arts is similarly overwhelming. I go to art galleries to discover styles that I like. It’s a knee jerk reaction. You turn a corner and BAM! Awesomeness on a wall. Or a stand. It’s magical and I will support that person’s work.

But some  artists, no matter how amazing and unique (I’ll get back to that word in a minute) will NEVER “make it” whatever that means to you. You know, the whole story of someone like Mozart. Largely in debt with plenty of rivals. Making TONS of money at art – if that’s your goal in life, well, you might want to rethink that. Or you may need to determine how much of a “sell out” you want to be. That term comes from something – you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to sell.

The idea of a patron or several patrons is to me the only way art happens. Good art. Art that stands out and is meaningful to *someone* maybe not me personally, but to another. Lots of art gets made, some of it mediocre but who is to say? And that’s what I mean – money talks. You can put a price tag on it and if someone is willing to pay that, you have a patron. and now it’s your job to give that person what they want or stay on your high horse and do what you want and hope someone else will want that too. the question is always what do you have to offer? what makes you unique? is it your style? vision? method? Whatever that is, herald it. Always be promoting (ABP, and a little ABC – always be closing).  Sell what you do and you sell yourself. Just like all us working folks with jobs. We take a job at a rate of pay that we are willing to take. We hope we’ll make more and we hope that we are worth more, but at the end of the day, especially in this economy, we take what we have and we make the most of it without compromising our values and what we feel is worthwhile.

That said, I feel like most artists dont even KNOW what they do. They blather on about random things leaving a potential patron fairly removed from the whole experience. I’ve seen this happen SO many times and it makes me sad. Often artists feel like because I do it, you should buy it. Sorry, no. It’s like us musicians, because I’m playing it you should listen to it. It’s simply not how it works. Passion speaks volumes. Method speaks volumes. Communicate these things clearly and engage your patrons in such a way that they leave almost as excited about you as you are.

Anyway, I’m off my soap box for the moment. Would love to hear what others say. Except if you work for the NEA. haha. (Don’t get me started on the NEA… that’s a whole ‘nother soap box…)

Click here to read the debate on the Gaiman/Palmer thing.

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