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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Value The Arts

The following article appeared in the Chicago Tribune last week.  It was written by an artist name Kathleen Hardy from Chicago.  It's really a reply to a letter published a few weeks previously.  Since I have been a self employed, freelance artist for so many years, it really struck a cord in me so I am reposting it.  Please note that I have given credit both to the author who wrote the letter/reply as well as to the Chicago Tribune.

Value The Arts

A letter writer in the March 21 Voice of the People wrote:  "We liked the smaller bandstands (at former Taste of Chicago festivals) that would feature local artists.  I'm sure many of these bands would play for almost nothing just to be able to have others hear their music."
He is wrong about that!  Why is it that artists (of any genre) are expected to work for "almost nothing"?

Would anyone seriously say to an accountant, "Do my taxes for free; I'll tell everyone what a great job you did!  It'll be great exposure for you!  You should be happy to have others just see your work for almost nothing!"

Or how about, "Doctor, you should be happy just to have others see the nice job you did on setting my broken bone!"

None of these things happens in real life, so why should we expect artists to work for nothing?

Is it possible that people in America have no idea that artists eat food, pay rent and have kids just like they do?

Do people in America have no idea that an artist has to pay money for supplies to be able to create the art that many want to enjoy for free?

Do they understand that in order for artists to exhibit their work in craft shows, they have to pay money to be there?

Do they understand that many artists actually did go to college for training in their fields and now have student loans to pay back too?

We are often freelancers, so we don't have employee benefits like health care.

Those things are paid for out of our own pockets; our art pays for these things.

To have someone enter the booth and exclaim, "You're charging THAT much (for a unique, one-of-a-kind item)?" shows the level of disconnect between people and their jobs and artists and our jobs.

It is mystifying to us for people to tell us how we should simply be grateful for people to want to celebrate and share our work, yet somehow expect us to live without a salary, let alone keep creating.

If we truly value the arts, maybe we should compensate the artists commensurately.

Kathleen Hardy, Chicago
Chicago Tribune

4 comments:

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I is a great letter and expression of truths that so many don't conceive.

Haven't we all been in the place that everyone we ever met thinks we would be grateful for them to own a piece of our art for free? Many years ago a make quite a bit of money making and selling until I started making what everyone wanted and not what I wanted to make.

Now, what I make is a special gift to be cherished and only given to those that do. And there is MY pleasure in the giving.

margaret said...

how true, I have found people will pay large sums for paintings etc but when it comes to anything stitched they do not seem to think that warrants much payment, I wondered if it is because these days stitching is seen as a thing ladies do in their spare time as a hobby, needless to stay a beautiful hand stitched piece usually will take much longer than a water colour, it was interesting to see if is the same for bands etc.

Gina E. said...

There is much food for thought there, Pam. I agree with everything the writer has said, even though I don't make money from my crafts; it is just a hobby that I do for my own pleasure. But if I was selling my stuff, I sure wouldn't be giving anything away when I've spent so much time and money on creating things.

Momma Bear said...

hello pam!
great article so good in fact I have "lifted" it and posted it on my facebook page.
I agree wholeheartedly people have gotten so far away from the making of anything from their own food to their own clothing that they have no concept of how long it takes to "make" let alone create something unique. it makes me sad that creativity is so overshadowed by quantity and price points.

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