This subject surfaced last week when Dayna Kurtz, in an attempt to garner support and funding for an upcoming artistic goal, invited people to participate. This was seen by a fan as soliciting and unbecoming of an artist of Dayna's standing. Dayna composed a strong and articulate response to this fan and shared it with all utilizing social networking [Facebook]. It made me wonder a bit about how it is that we have come to expect so much from our artists.
I also see another factor preying on artists. Mass disasters, war and human suffering. An artist that is trying to piece together a living does not get to choose in the same manner that fans and listeners who hold labors do. An artist, being sensitive to these extremely painful worldly concerns, has to still try and garner support and comes up against the one thing that they intend to translate or record or somehow interpret. The money that would fund their enterprise wants to fly to the disaster of the week. Now there is a moral conflict.
I then read in a blog post of Krista Detor who in a moment of reflection, seemed to questioned whether she should allow herself something that you and I would never even think twice about giving ourselves. Is it bougeois to have a place to sit in her back yard where she could enjoy friends, sit with a cup of coffee or have space to write a song out in the bright out-of-doors? I read this, frowned and I thought to myself that this is just not right.
Later I was reading David Byrne's on-line Journal and I stumbled upon this March 25th entry:
There is something about fans maintaining this perception of exception that has to be recognized as destructive to an artist's creative process. I think there is an investment for fans to believe that art is divinely actualized and we should consider leaving off the faux religious aspect and embrace the reality of the situation. The internet - what I like to refer to as The Great Equalizer - has brought all of us an opportunity to democratically participate in supporting and interacting with our favorite artists like never before. We need to evolve as fans. At the very least, we need to encourage our artists towards abundance. Everyone benefits. Pay for the art you enjoy. Be a part of the solution and healing a world of hurt.
"...Some see any presumed cleverness or market savvy on behalf of an artist or performer as distasteful. They feel that serious work should be driven primarily by passion or some kind of authenticity and purity, and that financial considerations — figuring out how to monetize one’s work and activity, as it is phrased in dot-com terms — is tacky, and goes against the rules. What rules? Where are these rules written down? Shouldn’t artists be cheered for making money if they can, if they don’t dilute their work?
The “rules” as I intuit them say that cultural production takes place on some moral and ethical high ground where money is not a consideration. According to these rules, for an artist or musician to take financial factors into consideration is to automatically lower and demean work that is supposed to stem from and engage our higher impulses. The work, once money enters the picture, is now assumed to be “work for hire,” to use the legal term. This is why fine artists often look down their noses on craftspeople, illustrators and graphic designers. During the Renaissance, they worked hard to separate themselves from the laborers of the trade guilds, and worked hard to gain acceptance for the idea that they were more than mere craftspeople — so to risk slipping back into that ignoble territory is completely unacceptable…
...According to the old fine art rules, it’s nobler to be poor — which is a cliché for sure, but one that is still held on to dearly. The assumption is that being paid well allies one with the bourgeois one is supposed to be busy offending and shocking. As if anything is shocking today...