More Art. Please.
Where exactly is the arts funding going?
Every time you donate your original art work to a non-profit...
an office angel gets their wings!
Joking aside, we as artists could just relax into poverty and bask in acceptance and let another marketing semi-pro researcher job open up…
or we could start taking direct stock of which agencies are benefitting artists the most and spread the word and give them some serious hugs (and shares). The best organizations are the ones that aren't spending their time shaking hands and catering to the biggest donors, The best ones are those that either offer you something directly or an opportunity to flourish in the future, NOT the ones that come to you asking for you to work for them for free. A true art or culture organization should be representing you, and your interests in the best way, including, helping you understand or encouraging you to make a living.
These agencies are created for YOU.
(at least that's what they are saying on their missions)
Yet, it seems, less and less of the funding is going to the artists, and the community wide benefits are becoming visibly minimal. There are far too many non-profits that are actually appearing to be businesses, that just don't pay taxes.
The non-profit or tax-funded agency is by nature a hierarchical model that concentrates power among small groups of people, it also begs for bureaucracy and elitism ... and this can easily get in the way of achieving goals and benefits for a community or state. There is a built in corporate structure that is blocking the actual funding from reaching the people that need it the most…the artists and their surrounding communities.
We, as creatives, have bought this notion hook, line and sinker that a professionally dressed paper shuffler and networker is worth 100K a year to our 3K.
The new normal is a non-profit that specifically garners money for other non-profits or operates itself as a business that just happens to have volunteers instead of employees... leaving even less opportunities for individual artists and musicians to flourish and grow (and make a living) without first learning the complicated business medium of grant-speak and non-profit baffling noise.
You see, if you generate pdf pages of statistics and facts and data, you can keep your job, and the money. If you are an artist, you may get lucky and have talent in that arena, or, you are too busy being a creative genius and pumping out a quality product and not getting paid, and most likely, being asked to donate what you do to a paper shuffler.
We are in the midst of the rise of non-profit with more of them popping up with generic google generated mission statements and watered down political undertones…is the 501(c)3 the new selfie? Is it the designer trend of the decade, a way to create your own job, pay less (if any) taxes, all the while poofing up that resume?
It isn't popular, or kind, to knock the non-profit sector as they are "doing good" for the community…and that notion may be the very reason that we aren't looking hard enough at them or calling them out more frequently. There are many valuable entities out there that do the right thing and utilizing their mission statements to the fullest extent… but as an artist, the one thing that may get your blood boiling is a committee forming specifically to research how art effects a community. Guess what? That research has been done over and over and over and you know it, it's easily accessible information, and the conclusion is always the same…
CREATIVITY ENHANCES COMMUNITIES.
ART ENRICHES LIVES.
MUSIC HELPS CHILDREN LEARN.
ART DRAWS TOURISTS AND CREATES MAIN STREETS.
MORE MORE MORE WE NEED MORE CREATIVITY!
Anyone who is mildly seasoned in the art scene already knows this, politicians and developers should know this, teachers and moms and dads already know this from the decades of research, and ahem, life.
The economic shift that has happened over this last decade has created a culture of acceptance from artists that we are invaluable. As humble creatives, we are seeing ourselves as non-vital, non-essential contributors, we are quietly "waiting our turn" for economic success while buttoned up clean shirts and black pencil skirts with sensible shoes are safely in their warm homes with good paying jobs on the backs of our work. The community at large needs re-education on the value of artists, and needs to stop turning to us for donations, free work and cheap entertainment. And artists, we need to learn to say NO.
So …who is doing it right?!
THANKFULLY, there are non-profit entities climbing up quickly that are addressing some of these very issues…. The Arts Industry Alliance www.artsindustryalliance.com out of New Hampshire recently publicly went after Bank of NH Pavilion and sent some heat their way for placing a stage in their parking lot for local talent. The gigs were sponsored by Magic Hat Brewing Company to support homegrown music. Only problem was, the local bands were asked to do the gig for free. Ya know, for exposure. The folks from AIA are also watch-dogging both 3S and the Music Hall and lobbying them regularly for better treatment of the local creators, and it seems to be working.
THANK YOU AIA. Keep it up.
The Union of Maine Visual Artists www.umvaonline.org spent time this year examining how The Portland Museum of Art handled William Thon's legacy to the museum, with members challenging his bequest of support to specifically Maine artists and how PMA curated the biennial exhibit with a specific curator choosing the inclusions rather than offering an open submission process as had been done in the past, also with some of the artists questionably having very loose ties to Maine. UMVA's continuous quest to uphold the dignity of artists without fear is certainly worth paying attention to.
THANK YOU UMVA. Keep it up!
And a LOUD shout-out to ENGINE who is making a positive impact for artists and art lovers in and around Biddeford Maine!
We can hold out hope that the art administrators will spend their quality desk time examining what was successful in creating a constant current of great art in the past. Currently, many Maine artists are not seeing overall benefits from MAC or NEA, with exceptions, of course. With a budget of 2 million plus for next year, we certainly hope that the new five year plan will get them out from the meetings and research and into the studios and basements and attics of the artists and arts that hold real and tangible value in Maine. Something as simple as getting supplies and studios to the artists that need them will hold much more sustainable value to this state than piles of research and examination and networking.
MODspoke is putting their time and money where our pie hole is by offering FREE links to ANY artist from Maine on our artist page, no curation or judgement, no collecting fees or emails, just a link in the hopes that the artists will get exposure, benefit and maybe income for supplies. Maine artists get one image with a link directly to them placed on that page because THEY, and their ART, are awesome and we know it. Plus...we love karma. :)
Art, Culture, Unity and Soul