I’m not going to lie, I wish I was, like, rich as fuck. I wish I was so fucking rich, and I would just hand money out to people left and right all goddam day long and that would be my job. I would be an excellent fucking billionaire.

I have two simultaneous pulls, one of which is, there’s that idiot bumper sticker that says ‘art is necessary’ and it’s not. Like, if you need food, you don’t care if there’s a painting on the wall. We are really incredibly privileged that we get to be so fussy that we can complain about not having money to make a film... [But] I think art is really really important on a level that is difficult to even explain, and really difficult to demonstrate; you can’t quantify it. I think it’s important the way beautiful architecture is important, or the way kindness is important… It’s a really, strange thing and I think actually the more you try to put a price on it, the weirder it gets. And I can think of all sorts of occasions where people who would totally despise art funding, it sneaks up on them, and they have this really great thing, that they would never have anticipated, because art does that, it sneaks up on you. But who should be paying for it? I don’t know.

It’ll be a great day when… people could pursue their passions without fear of poverty

I believe in the idea of a civilized society which guarantees basic income for all of it's citizens and recognizes the human necessities to food, shelter, clothing as inalienable rights.

Are billionaires a good idea?

A few thoughts from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, “New Nationalism” (Osawatomie, Kansas, September 1, 1910) might help answer this question, though I suspect he wasn’t thinking specifically of billionaires. He referred more modestly to people with “a fortune."

“We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary."

"We are as gods and we might as well get good at it" - Stuart, Whole Earth Catalog

The Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture: Artist Sustenance Program

Inspired by a recent trip to the Sunshine Coast in B.C., where travelers are presented with several official, government-looking blue and white roadsigns indicating “Artist” studios (along with similar ones indicating “store,” “B & B,” and “tourist attraction”), I gestated an idea involving local government support of artists as an alternative source of funding for artists. In this model, artists are seen as cultural treasures, worthy of tourist patronage and Chamber of Commerce attention.

The basics are this: through a reallocation of tax dollars, the city creates an Office of Artist Sustenance, offering a specific number of “artist sponsorships” in a given year. Those receiving support would be self-declared artists whose annual incomes are below a certain dollar amount. They would receive financial aid in the form of free live/work studios in subsidized spaces on a yearly basis and minimal stipends with the stipulation that they would have posted “studio hours” in which the public could come watch them make their art, as well as a yearly public exhibition of their works in a subsidized “gallery” space.

Artist studios would be clustered in subsidized locations not unlike the Tashiro/Kaplan and Hiawatha Lofts Artspaces, which would offer community, concentrated access to the public of a myriad of artists’ practices, and on-site exhibition spaces earmarked for continual monthly shows, whether solo or group exhibitions.

To support this program, there would be liasons in the Mayor’s Office whose jobs it would be to ensure artists were making good on their commitments. This would take the forms of regular (unannounced) studio visits during posted hours, administrative support for monthly exhibitions, and promotional help for the artists on the roster through a coordinated virtual presence on the city website, localized signage alerting the public to their locations (the blue and white road signs), and regular press releases. The city would generate some residual income through a percentage of sales of the artists’ work not exceeding 50%.

Thus the city could provide temporary financial and administrative support to dozens of local artists on a yearly basis, increase the generation of public exhibitions of new work, and provide a culture of transparency to art-making practices with daily open studios.

I really like what the W.A.G.E. group is doing right now; giving certification to institutions that give adequate pay to artists and others for their work in all aspects of the presentation of art.

i've not taken the time to brainstorm on solutions for art funding. i've spent my time watching my artist friends struggle to pay rent. i've spent my time holding a job that will pay my bills while i stay up nights writing grants that, cross my fingers, will partially compensate me for the time i spend doing what i love. the time i spend doing what i love in front of other people who love what i do. i don't mind a simple life; it's rich in figurative ways. but a small nod of appreciation spoken in the language of US value would go a long ways, ya know?

It'll be a great day when our collective society makes the decision to invest in the well-being of all of its children, regardless of their race, gender, religion, region or household situation. Children should have the luxury to play, imagine, and create together without being subject to hunger or fear. A modest investment in our schools, libraries, and community centers across the country could have a positive, transformational effect on our nation for decades to come. What we don't need are capricious billionaires who believe that their boutique philanthropic efforts can serve as a replacement for paying their fair share of taxes.

Are billionaires a good idea? No, look at Trump.

I wish I could afford to be myself.

I wish Seattle had more young collectors.

Art is supposed to ride the line between success and failure. A good piece could completely fail at any moment. Too much or not enough money can be part of that failure.

What are different ways to fund an arts community?

One way is to start by asking this question: How might we, as a society, work towards providing a basic level of care for our citizens and residents? If we had a robust social safety-net -- basic assistance for housing, medical care, food security, day care -- then everyone who now lives an economically precarious life could pay attention to something other than a scramble to survive. For many artists I think this would be the best kind of arts funding.

It’ll be a great day when there is more equal income distribution in the US, or at least a smaller gap, but until then, I wish billionaires would be required to take an annual Keeping In Touch With the Proletariat training and test. They would live for a week on the income of people who receive assistance: feed their family of four for under $20 a day, stand in line at the foodbank, work two jobs with no healthcare coverage, then take public transportation home to Tukwila where they can afford the rent. They would also be required to serve a stint in a public school classroom teaching.

I wish the rich paid the same taxes as we all do, and that we all had universal, single-payer health insurance and better government funding of the arts. I do see the flexibility that private funding of the arts lends – a rich guy can fund a wild idea that might not fly with an entrenched institution - but this flexibility is also insecurity. At the whim of our wealthy patron, suddenly we are unemployed. Sure, capitalism is better than medieval fiefs and vassals, but, considering our current tax structure, this is hardly capitalism. Of course billionaires are not a good idea. The reason certain people are rewarded with mountains of money is as much due to their hard work and good ideas as it is to our rigged system. The whole thing is rotten. Which has never stopped humans from dancing around on late capitalism’s wobbly viewing platform over the precipice of world destruction.

It will be a great day when the billionaires of the world decide to melt back into the community along with their money.

I wish that the different work that people do would be valued more equitably.

In Seattle, so much wealth is found in the tech sector and lately I've been thinking about how tech and art communities interact and about our expectations for each other. As an artist myself, I completely understand the desire to get a piece of the pie; feeling that if money is being given out, then we (the arts community) could certainly make good use out of it. But I'm not convinced that it's beneficial for us to assume that we, as artists, automatically deserve money from the tech sector.

I actually see many commonalities between arts and tech. Both communities are creating, innovating, dreaming big, and changing the status quo. So why have we positioned ourselves as lower and in need? I believe that our reliance as an arts community on tech or large financial donors actually puts us at risk and diminishes what we are creating. We desperately need a more self-sustaining model, or at least one that is mutually collaborative and mutually beneficial. I don't have the answers for a new funding model, but I am encouraged by seeing more and more merging of tech and arts communities, encountering many startups that are hiring artists and culture-makers, valuing them for their creative input and problem-solving skills. I wonder if this type of merging would be an interesting way to proceed; as we merge our goals and visions together and begin to see each other as co-collaborators. Artists gain so many skills simply by being an artist, whether problem-solving, outside-the-box thinking, willingness to take risks, or ability to see failure as part of the process; all are great assets to a growing and innovative tech startup. I am interested in ways that our communities can create overlaps and collaborations and aid in each other's worlds.

I wish being an American artist didn't mean risking falling through the fabric of society. I wish there were still government works programs for artists to use their skills for dough and for the collective good of documenting and enrichment of the community and country. It will be a great day when arts education returns in full force to our public schools' curriculum, creating more jobs for artists as educators and re-centering the arts as an essential ingredient in the learning process and on a fundamental level what it means to be human.

What if billionaires had a "patrons tax" where a certain percentage of their income had to be allocated to arts funding-- and they could create grants or fellowships with this money (such as for artist travel, or supplies, or 1-year artist stipends)? Or if they didn't want to be involved directly with this process the money could go into a patrons' pool to be overseen by an independent nonprofit grant-making organization. But does this happen on a national level? A local level? Should it just be up to billionaires to decide which art gets funded? Things start to get messy.

What would ART be outside of outdated notions of philanthopy and charity? I want funding ART to mean funding LIBERATION. I mean the dismantling of systemic oppression. What could humans create if we were truly FREE from the brutality of racism, sexism and the bullshit hierarchy of classism?

Universal grants to every citizen, for the sole purpose of unlearning supremacy!

Funding art should mean funding the revolution that brings about a culture shift so profound...an inclusive creative era of enlightenment of truth and beauty so widespread and democratic, that we are almost afraid to let ourselves imagine it.

Self-funding is the only way that true art can happen. We can pretend to have this conversation, but no one ever truly strays from capitalism. Hence, the billionaire. Asking if billionaires are a good idea is a moot point.

This isn't about one man, personally - it's about organized philanthropy and the role of that in a creative community. It can also be an investigation of personal patronage - but the issue here is not that Paul Allen or anyone else personally was sustaining the arts community and walked away from it (we expect individual humans to act human), it's that the "foundation" did. He set up a system of organized philanthropy with infrastructure and staff, and in particular the thing they focused on was sustainability. The experts he hired in order to help the arts community be sustainable did a great job of funding things that make a cultural community strong: the creation of new artistic works and organizational capacity building. They gave multi-year grants. They provided support for things other funders won't because they aren't sexy. They reinforced the good lessons again and again. And then suddenly, with no notice, walked away - the exact opposite of all the best practice ground they had laid.

You know what's funny to me about the whole raising taxes on the rich and "job creator" line of BS? It's not just that we'd have more taxes, if we raised taxes on the rich. It's that the rich would have less money to take things away from the rest of us. You know those housing crunches in the urban core? Part of the reason that happens is because multimillionaires have volumes of disposable income that most of the rest of us can't begin to comprehend, so they bid against each other for our homes. Raise interest rates, significantly raise marginal tax rates for people making more than $250k/yr, you'll see housing get cheaper real fast. Then take that money and use it to put Americans to work repairing our broken infrastructure, educating our children, taking care of our old, and modernizing our energy economy. Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could stop having kids in Flint get poisoned by their water? And if you look at that and say, "I don't want the government doing those things!" please subscribe to Comcast for Internet service, or start taking a tally of how often Windows gives you a problem, and remind yourself what the efficiency of the market has done for you lately.

What are different ways to fund an arts community?

- As an artist: Support other artists.

- Reach out to members of your community who wouldn’t normally be a patron. Too often artists are the only audiences for artists.

The hardest part is getting government to realize the importance of arts in a community. Too many times arts organizations are cut from granting lists, or art classes are cut from school curriculum. How do we fix this? I have no earthly idea. Vote for candidates who support the arts is the least we could do.

I never thought this would be my fucking job. It wasn’t a dream of mine because I didn’t really know it was a thing at all, but one day some friends and I just invented it. I’m now the Creative and Development Director of a local arts festival.

In this role, I think a lot about accessibility of all kinds—how can we reach people who don’t even know they will fucking love what we do and how to make a safe and nurturing space for them when they get there (one idea: stop f-bombing so much.) A huge part of this consideration is financial access. It’s important for all the obvious reasons, but also because so many of the people who make the books and art that we showcase live frighteningly near the poverty line (both above and below it.) Seeing art events that prohibit them from participating with high ticket prices and booth prices feels simply unfair. That artists have to build the thing they are not able to participate in is some epic irony.

We have vowed to stay free to the public and to offer affordable table prices so that artists actually walk away with money in their pockets from selling their work to an eager audience. This is one of our most intentional acts because we are artists and we get it.

The people who ‘make' Seattle— the developers, architects, city planners— I think they often have good intentions in mind. A lot of them truly care about urban fabric, public experience, local business, and affordable housing. But none of that really matters, because pools of global capital are the real phenomenon shaping what we know as the Seattle landscape and real estate market. Seattle is facing what any big city is facing: recession in other markets makes property investment seem like a good bet, so money flows in, prices go up, land gets developed, artists get pushed out. Have you ever bought a bag of bagels at the store? Like Thomas or Pepperidge Farms? They’re fucking horrible. And, they’re horrible for the same reason that Capitol Hill is becoming horrible— global capital. Anything at scale suffers because the connection between the maker, the artist, the creative is broken. Making your own bagels, much like preserving a thriving, creative landscape does not make financial sense. But it sure does taste better. So in response to the question, are billionaires a good idea? No, they’re not. I was raised in the church, and although I’m zero percent religious, I still walked away with the fundamental idea that it’s important that we share resources. Seems like being ultra wealthy is the opposite of sharing. Buying a mega yacht/yachts is basically saying that you don’t give a shit about the billions of people who face hunger and violence every day. It's really not that complicated. So while I don’t know Paul Allen, I can’t imagine that he’s the kind of dude who lays awake at night thinking about how he can share more. I bet he eats shitty bagels too. Regarding the question of how do we fund public art? I have no idea, but I’d rather have subsidized housing and grants for 100k creatives than a deep-bore tunnel or another stadium. Having said all of this, it’s probably important to note that I'm one of the creatively displaced, and part of that is because we had a kid. Our rent went up to $2600 to live in a small house as far north as you can get and still call it Seattle. So my wife and I moved to another state. The crazy part to me is that I work really hard, and make good money. Because of that, maybe only 10% of my work every year at this point is on a truly creative project that I want to work on. But even though 90% of my time is focused on making money, that was nowhere near enough to buy a house and raise a kid in Seattle. I’m going to pay around $20k in heath care costs this year for my family, and that’s without any major medical issues. Whatever this machine is, this algorithm that’s forcing creative people to leave the places where they’ve thrived, that squeezes every last bit of value out of people to enrich those at the top— it can’t last forever. It's not only destroying people’s lives, it's removing the very fundamental creativity and ingenuity that has allowed this country to thrive. People are getting more and more angry, and we’re already seeing it. I often think that all the racism and violence that we’re witnessing is really just a symptom, where the real underlying problem is people getting more and more frustrated with how big companies are taking their money, keeping them in debt, creating more and more separation between the top and the bottom. As it all happens, I’ll be watching it from a smaller town in the Mountain West, stockpiling baked goods.

I think we should fund the Arts in Seattle by placing Artists as bellhops in the boutique hotels being built downtown. We will use the tips they get from billionaires to fund the cultural life of Seattle. Each Artist will be equipped with an electronic GoFundMe tin cup.

Pretty much everything society produces is garbage. The products are meant to be used and consumed. Ultimately, after any length of time, what remains is waste.

Once a utility of a product is used up it becomes waste. Art doesn't have a built in utility function to begin with.

Art is not for consumption it is for reflection. (It wants to talk to us, it wants to move us, it wants to keep giving for generations).

Art wants to keep giving, business wants to keep getting.

Majority of artists - as well as poor people everywhere - live almost entirely outside the current economic and social system. The system that is based on production and exchange of commodities and money (all to be consumed).

All business has one wish - to be consumed. This is in fact a perpetuation of a death wish. Art stands in stark contrast to this death wish. Art wants to be alive, to stay alive, to live forever. It cannot be supported by a death wish.

This is applicable not just to art, but all social structures and services that aim to support life. In the long run, they cannot be a by-product of a death wish. They have to come directly from a wish to live and stay alive.

“These two lines of thought - the idea of art as a gift and the problem of the market - did not converge for me until I began to read through the work that has been done in anthropology on gifts as a kind of property and gift exchange as a kind of commerce. Many tribal groups circulate a large portion of their material wealth as gifts. Tribesmen are typically enjoined from buying and selling food, for example; even though there may be a strong sense of “mine and thine,” food is always given as a gift and the transaction is governed by the ethics of gift exchange, not those of barter or cash purchase. Not surprisingly, people live differently who treat a portion of their wealth as a gift. To begin with, unlike the sale of a commodity, the giving of a gift tends to establish a relationship between the parties involved. Furthermore, when gifts circulate within a group, their commerce leaves a series of interconnected relationships in its wake, and a kind of decentralized cohesiveness emerges.” (from Lewis Hyde’s introduction to The Gift)

Are billionaires a good idea?

fuck to the fuck no! Redistribute that money to the masses.

It’ll be a great day when the rat race ends

I wish the educational system stressed critical thinking and creative exploration more than they stress standardized test taking.

Fuck Paul Allen.

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.” (Unknown Author)

“Being rich is not about how much you have, but how much you can give.” (Unknown Author)

“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” (John F Kennedy)

“Art has and can save you from sorrow.” (Ezze Farrazaino)

The world does need billionaires because often they do great things with their money, but the billionaires need the beautiful world, so they should give some of their wealth to the arts, the ones who try and interpret the world in beautiful and/or enlightening ways.

Artists could sell weed brownies and cookies, that seems to be quite popular these days, and legal now.

If the arts community joined together, and invented a sports team, we’ll call them The Warthogs. And they invented a cool new sport. THEN, perhaps the city and the billionaires who inhabit it, would give them money to build a brand spanking new stadium, BUT, this is where things get interesting. The artists of team Warthogs could take the money for the stadium, and use it to create their innovative art projects, and say perhaps then that their art project was to create an actual new sport, they invented other teams, jerseys, merchandise, mascots, etc. the whole works! Then another part of the art project was to attract a fan base, license TV rights, sponsorship deals the whole works. And then they actually used all of the proceeds from that to fund their art projects, BUUUUTTT they have to spend so much time and money on their fantastical new sports franchise, that they no longer have time to work on their passion art projects. Hmmmm, maybe the cities UBER-rich should just place a fraction of importance on funding real good art, that they do on real good athletics, then Seattle artists can do their amazing work and thrive as much as the Hawks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Seahawks fan. But c’mon. we need art just as much as we need to watch sports.

Perhaps all the people that own big yachts in Seattle could offer up their yachts as a sort of artist residency. Free for artists to stay and make a cool project in a month. Think of all the unused yachts that just sit there slowly rocking in the waters of puget sound. The artists could be inside of there, fully-focused, and slowly rocking their own radical ideas out.

Ever time a super rich person buys an island, they could donate a tiny fraction of the cost of that island to an art grant, that allows an under-privileged artist to create a project.

Have a lottery with proceeds that support the arts, not just the lottery commission. Think, if 2 million people purchased a one dollar ticket, and the winner got 1 million dollars, then the rest of the money could go towards arts education and development in public schools. Now that would be cool, wouldn’t it?

Paul Allen does good things with his money, don’t get me wrong. But he should know the value of a strong and prolific arts community in Seattle. This is very important.

Are billionaires a good idea? Well, whether or not they’re a good idea, they’re here to stay. And all the good ones give away millions to various organizations and charities. Suck on that teat as long as you can. Convince your billionaires (or whoever manages Mr. Billionaire’s money) that arts are vital for a thriving community.

How long can a multi-billionaire really stay in touch with their community?

I think new money billionaires are like newly elected politicians. They’ve worked hard to get where they are and want to support their community. Of course, they want to give back so they go in “guns a blazing” trying to make a real difference.

But over a period of time, focus is lost, and a separation occurs. You’re working on an expansive scope, and you can’t do it all yourself. Your board members, who may have their own special interests, are making decisions that affect the allocation of funds. As time goes by, a class driven disconnect occurs as the small independent artist is no longer part of your community. Building museums and an international art fair are way more visible than some measly art grant. Eventually, individual grant funding is phased out as more high profile “community” projects take over.

How does this affect the local artists that produce meaningful art in the community?

When the grant money stops coming in, the local art community suffers. Everyone loses out on something intangible and unique. These phased-out grants are a drop in the bucket compared to cost of “community” projects that bring in outside artists and house your collections.

That five thousand dollar booth at Art Fair paid for by an exclusive gallery is the probably the same dollar amount an individual artist would receive through funding. Everyone can agree, museums are nice and they can inspire as well. But at the end of the day aren’t those museums and galleries really just a place for tourists to admire all your cool, expensive stuff?

I still don't know the best way to fund art in a community. I guess what I would like to see is a shift in our culture that gives more value to the arts and humanities. The STEM focus in education drives me crazy. Not every person needs to be a mathematician, an engineer, a doctor, a scientist in order to have value to society. Not everyone needs to be an artist either. We need to do a better job valuing work that makes life more then just a struggle to survive or accumulate wealth... All kinds of work. That includes care-taking, cooking, poetry, music, and on and on. I don't know about more direct government funding for artists (I'm not sure it's a good idea), but I'd love to see more funding for art education in public schools. I'd love to see those teachers paid and respected. Maybe if more children grow up with art access and appreciation, they will want to be involved with it later in life, whether or not they become artists themselves.

I firmly believe that there are many good artists out there doing great and important work. And some of them need our support to keep doing what they are doing. But giving money to an arts organization is NOT the same as supporting good artists doing important work. If the art organization pays themselves first and then supports bad art, the money you just gave made things worse. Know what you consider worth supporting. And pick an organization that can show that they actually support that better than you can buy simply giving or buying directly. Please don’t be naive. Art is not decoration. It matters.

What are different ways to fund an arts community?

No interest loans via billionaire & corporate slush funds…

A society?

Redistribution of wealth…

Are billionaires a good idea?

Billionaires will happen and are ok as long as we live in a capitalist society… greed is not ok. Economic hoarding should be exposed and taxed.

What are different ways to fund an arts community?

Incentivizing philanthropy, using public funds, via recreation taxes

A society?

Society is funded through a transactional economy but enriched through arts.

Are billionaires a good idea?

Billionaires who appreciate the role of artists in our world and work to support them are an amazing idea.

What are different ways to fund an arts community?

There are so many different ways to fund an arts community. The way you fund them will have an effect on the communities. Is the support secure - will it be a grant that will be available to apply to for decades? Will it be gone on a whim? Are there strings attached? Is it research based or does it expect an outcome? Who decides on who receives funding? Who is eligible? What are the criteria? (I know these are more questions… oops). Funding can mean providing space (free or low cost) to live/work/exhibit/perform. Funding can mean access to cultural events - theater/concerts/opera/museums. Funding can mean getting together and talking with food/professional development/mentors. Are these events accessible for those less mobile/who work on weekends and nights/need public transportation? Is there an option for those without access to childcare? How does the arts community assess what is working and what isn’t with funding - do they have input?

Other funding comes from within the arts community - buying art, going to performances, kickstarter/patreon pledges, all of us with little resources spreading our meager money around to each other. Volunteering time, and lending tools, and sharing knowledge. These things aren’t limited only to arts community - obviously.

A society?

Universal basic income is a start. Nationalized health care, a social safety net, free education. End Capitalism, end inheritance, and get the income inequality squared away so we can move on in a more equal footing - meaning dismantling systemic and institutionalized racism, misogyny, colonialism, homophobia, the carceral state, etc... (all this is good for artists too!)

Is money what happens when there is no art?

As far as who should fund the arts, I'm not really sure. I feel as though funding the arts should be a thing that just comes naturally to people. Like deciding to go out shopping or go to a sports game. I don't really have any grand intellectual ideas on it. I feel like I go to work every day just to fund my own artwork, which I'm fine with as long as I am able to keep doing it. Of course it would be great if someone just gave me money to paint.

The best way to fund an arts community is to work your friggin ass off

in whatever way you can

in every way you can

show up and don't give up


make your life depend on it

and fight for it every day in every way because your life depends on it

and get everyone you know to do the same

with you

and do it because it matters

to you

and them

and all of us

and you know it

and they know it

and because society needs it

and because society needs to believe it needs it

and because you need it to believe in society

and because you need it to believe in you

I wish we didn’t have to have fundraising drives for public radio - that crowdfunding campaigns were only used to support silly projects like hover cars or a new kind of crazy of hot sauce (as opposed to being the only way to get poetry published or interesting musical performances produced) - that fewer artists had to have full time day jobs to pay their rent - that support for cultural activities was a no-brainer…

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of methods of arts funding is that I believe it should be part of the city's budget forever and always. Communities sometimes have general funds that are generated by fees that could be ear marked for some level of arts support. We are currently experiencing a recurrence of the dark ages in a way. Art holds an elevated position in a society. If you use Maslow's hierarchy of needs you could argue that societies rise and fall through those stages at different points in their history. If a community is at a lower stage in respect to those needs, arts funding is going to be less of a priority. Once a community reaches a higher stage it then requires exposure and the ability for artists to be part of the society. Being a part of the society is the huge sociological balancing act that we as artists have to continually try and refine and reinvent in many ways. The primary question being one of funding, I think that the society has to agree that arts funding is helpful to the community and then fund it themselves. I think the largest obstacle is that there are many people that have had a limited exposure to art in their lives and further there are others that art will never play any role in their lives. I think this is static. There will always be a certain percentage of people that do not wish to engage. The only thing you can hope for is to convince them that it will help their bottom line in some way. There are enough people in the Northwest of the U.S. though that care deeply about art and it should continue to be an area that protects it.

Receiving funding from businesses, individuals or institutions is never a given. Most businesses are set up for selfish motivations and then only when they reach a point of saturation do they look back and have a desire to enrich the society. There are few easy answers. Being heard and advising those that have the means to contribute to the arts is always a wise place to start.

Billionaires. The economic structure that allowed the person to gain such exponential wealth was not created by them or for them. Without all the pieces of the puzzle a singular person would never be able to accumulate such profit. It is in my opinion a cynical exploitation of the system that is setup. In other words you have devoted your life to exploiting the system for vast wealth. In other instances where no real exploitation has occurred (and I believe these are few) then it should be the position of the society to put a cap on vast earnings and have those redistributed to fund the areas that the money initially came from. Where this cap should occur I'm not sure. I would think if a single person is worth more than $500 million or so then there should be a full tax on any excess that is either redistributed to lower wage earners in the company or back into communities where arts funding could be part of the equation.

i do seriously believe that people will make art long after all the billionaires are gone. When humans return to hunting and gathering (after investment banking and social media cons cease putting food in mouths and hollow meaning in our heads) Art will still be created. Will still have meaning. Will still count.

What are different ways to fund an arts community? A society?

There could be lots of creative ways to fund an arts community and creative projects, yet I feel like the answers depend on whether we are looking at today's society or a society of the future. When looking at what exists today, I think we should examine the “value proposition” of our creative practices. Though typically used when creating a business plan, I think it can provide a great framework for us to harness our creativity to fund our art. These creative solutions could include selling things created as a byproduct or as the actual service of the artwork, like Conflict Kitchen does in Pittsburgh. This could also help us look to other communities and partnerships with which our projects closely align, for instance partnering with a recycling center to create work with reused materials. Determining where the real value of your artwork lies, you can find a variety of audiences that may be interested in supporting that work.

When dreaming about new ways our society could fund the arts, I am deeply inspired by civic partnerships that create Artist in Residence programs in all places of our society. An example is Mierle Laderman-Ukeles, who has been the artist in residence at the Department of Sanitation in NYC for over a decade. Other possible partnerships might include schools, the city planning office, or the Department of Transportation. These opportunities help to fund the basic needs of artists and leverage their skills to create a society that values process over product.

Are billionaires a good idea?

I think that billionaires are problematic. Our generation has lived the failure of "Trickle Down" economics and the defunding of social services and the public sector. The myth that wealthy individuals will fund and create an equitable society is debunked daily with failing non-profits, skyrocketing homelessness, and a society that funds more art projects with crowd-sourced fundraising than through the National Endowment of the Arts. A billionaire is neither the problem nor the solution. I feel that the problem is that our current economic and political systems celebrate the culture of startups, market disruption, and billionaires who are built on the backs of the working class and people of color. Their success and ability to thrive is at odds with the creation of a system of reciprocity that mutually benefits all members of society.

Once the Kickstarter circles start to dry up, and more than half the people in the country are crowned celebrities in some sort, what will be there to fund art?

Is anyone listening besides the makers? Is there anything more than commerce? If you were charged by the laugh, smile or tear, would you still go to the theater?

In total, Kickstarter has generated 2.5 billion in donations, from 31 million people. 31 million people over 7 years could only muster 2.5 billionaires. So much, but much too little.

Do we still need people who we want to be, people we look up to? People outside the organization, people with something that is intrinsically theirs? Or should we all aspire to be just a good dependent? Why do people aspire to anything?

Now that the world's mapped, every inch of the planet crawled over, artists are the only explorers we have left, the people who look between the cracks, the people who can consume all the junk we produce and try to make something of it - because we're on a new plane, with new morals, and in need of a new way of living with the danger of eating each other whole.

The ways we fund art should reflect how much we need each person to express and feel heard, and that's a public safety issue, a mental health issue, a culture issue, a 'what the hell are we here for anyways?' issue. Art helps heal the rigors of exertion for commerce - and commerce should pay for what they extract.

How? But you'll ruin everything!! Hellfire and problems!!! It's less that, and more your individual bent, your beliefs and your willingness to bend and take. Individuals need to work inside the system - maximizing donations when they interact with commerce.

We need Robin Hoods - ones with altruism and honor, but robbers all the same, taking from full pools and giving to empty ones. People that are like forces of physics - quiet, efficient, effective.

You can be that force. You can look up, see where there is too much, and find a way to put it where there is too little. Each path, each transaction is different, but the opportunity for change is only in the people, in the hearts and minds - laws, taxes, and schemes will follow.

It's funny how art is valued in our society. It enters everyone's lives and affects pretty major things but when people are asked to put their money up for it suddenly it's worth nothing. I also have a fundamental struggle about art funding in my head because sometimes it does seem like art is "extra". Like the artists I know aren't living high on the hog, but they are okay, there's not much question as to whether or not they'll survive on a daily basis and there are people who are facing that reality in the world; the struggle just to survive. But on the other hand I don't think I'd want to live in an artless world, so it's obviously more necessary than I'm willing to admit. Recently I've started thinking about the art of channeling money into more righteous causes, there is SO MUCH wasted money in the world and if we can focus that more into the hands of people who will do something good with it than that's something worth fighting for. We've created this world where money is the bottom line, it's the only thing that can change anything but that's not inherently bad, we just have to make sure it's used properly, and that includes more money for art and the people creating it!

I think another word for billionaire might be Exaggeration, or Satire. In their places they can give things visibility and fiber, but out of context they're self-justifying and hard to trust. The best and worst expression of this might be if we were all billionaires.

What comes with a loss of arts funding? This is a hard thing to answer, and might be hard to see when it first happens. Arts funding allows for experimentation, and risk taking. It gives artists motivation to continue their pursuits despite day to day pressure to conform to an expectant path. The art community challenges the status quo, and gets people to focus on things they otherwise might not. Art isn't made for financial gains, it's made to further discussion, enrich lives, and build community. So what comes with the loss of art funding? Funding the arts means that the community wants to grow, and be challenged. It wants to shine a light on the tough questions, and allows for creativity to proliferate. A city that doesn't want to fund the arts is a city that refuses to acknowledge that there's more we need in life than financial gain, that we can improve ourselves, and that tough questions need to be asked.

Art is inevitable. It will happen with or without funding. It's not the money that makes art happen, however, the support of a community towards its arts is what fosters it and allows these ideas to flourish. It boils down to what do you want our cultural landscape to be?

What are different ways to fund an arts community?

I think our system of arts funding is very antiquated and hasn’t changed substantially since the medieval times: cater to the upper classes in hopes of patronage. In place of kings, queens and the church providing the patronage we simply have shifted that onto the elite class and rely on them to fund the arts. This is a generalization, but the fortunes of the artisan class rise and fall with the stock market and the patronage of wealthy individuals and their organizations. And the proportion that is given back in support of the arts, although it may appear to be a large sum, is never greater than the amount that is taken from the community or the harm that was initially created. What happens during a stock market crash, or a global recession? What happens when Bill Gates or Paul Allen cut funding? The arts community suffers (along with a lot of other low and middle income individuals/families). This is a flawed system to rely so heavily on one source.

I think arts patronage of any kind is good (although some better than others, and best not to rely too heavily on the likes of benevolent billionaires) but a multi-faceted approach to funding an arts community is necessary. Ultimately, I believe it must be evenly distributed and come from within. So artists need to support artists and this comes in many shapes and forms. This involves collaborations between artists and disciplines; this includes artist attending and engaging with artistic events (performances, exhibitions, films, etc.); purchasing work (or tickets, books, etc.) whenever possible; hiring artists from within the community whenever possible; engaging in dialog; engaging in critical dialog; artists being involved in community and government groups to help push the artistic agenda. And that’s just off the top of my head.

Arts patronage also must be a government priority, and I think best to start thinking locally – it has been proven time and time again how important art is to a happy, intelligent and creative society. Post-revolution Mexico is a great example with the mural movement (Rivera, Orozco, Siquieros, Tamayo and others), but people also forget the achievements of the Federal Arts Project under the Work Progress Administration in the post-war years. The WPA included all kinds of public works projects, many as menial labor, but the FAP’s goal was to employ people to do what they were trained to do, not simply as fulfilling mindless positions. It covered four main divisions: Art, Music, Theatre and Writers Projects. Nobody got rich (and that wasn’t the goal) but it paid artists a living wage to use their gifts as artists, to make the world/community a more beautiful place, and to benefit society a whole through public education, community outreach and social documentation. Graphic designers, sign painters, actors, sculptors, photographers, writers… all were involved in this brilliant, if short-lived, program. Some of the artists who went on to have notable careers:

Jackson Pollock; Mark Rothko, Philip Guston, Herman Rose, Jack Twerkov, Alice Neel, Max Weber, John Marin, Stuart Davis, Mardsen Hartley, Milton Avery, David Smith, Jacob Lawrence, Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning; Ralph Ellison.

To create something like this again on a small scale in Seattle, I think that could be revolutionary and incredibly uplifting to the community.

Are billionaires a good idea?

No. They are not. See paragraph one above.

At first I was worried when I heard the Allen Foundation cancelled its financial support of the Seattle arts community, but then I realized that I can make up that money myself if I can sell 150 billion muffins!

Public funding of the arts should be a value in our society because art-making is an inherent endeavor of the human animal. Public funding should honor the endeavor as an act of faith in the creative spark. Public funding should pay no mind to the commodified 'value' of the art produced from it's provision. The Seattle "1% for the arts" program should be expanded so that our culture is taught to engage with its creativity from birth to death.

Private funding is under no obligation to hold to that standard and is only responsible to the whims of the owner of the capital. Maybe we impose a luxury tax on art sales to be used exclusively for public funding of new artistic endeavors. If the art market is valued at a really high level for past works, new works will get a benefit from that value.

Depending on the generosity of others is unsustainable. We have so many models in our society whereby the society counts on the artists to bring culture to it and in turn the artists depend on society to support them. It seems like it should be a good partnership but in most cases, because the ultimate value is not recognized and ingrained, it subjects both the artists and the society to economic moodiness which in turn ultimately fails both. What we need is better relationships whereby society and the artists both recognize the value of their contributions and both recognize the need for the successful partnership with contractual obligations to each other.

Are billionaires a good idea?

I've billed affairs with pets of chia

downed a trillion hairs on quesadilla

sat in vermillion chairs in the crimea

breathed cotillion airs o mama mia

I've seen Brazilian spares for South Korea

and prayed pavilions of air to Cytherea

but never in my wildest dreams

were good ideas what they seems

when it comes to billionaires and art

I'll get my funding from a tart

It’ll be a great day when our various non-profit and low-profit arts organizations have so much support from a wide variety of patrons and income sources that they don’t have to beg for their survival. A healthy arts ecosystem has a variety of sources of funding, with a large and passionate group of people participating in more than one way. I’d love to see more "normal citizens” buying affordable works of art, foundations and government agencies supporting things that can’t be bought/sold, and an engaged community who sees art as a vital, important, and even joyful language that can be used to investigate what life is like for us in this time and place.

I’ll be a great day when the strong communities in art are present and alive because of more than people’s own investment of time and effort. It will be a great day when people have time to give a shit about art.

I wish I was a filmmaker who painted murals for money and made comics on the side.

What are ways to fund an arts community?

Well, arts communities have always been funded by, like patrons, right, so there’s always been rich people as part of the system, because they can’t make their own shit, so they have to pay other people to make cool shit. Because it’s never going to be their life, and they’re never going to have that kind of situation, to just, like, think, and make stuff. Someone has to pay us to think and make stuff. I don’t know who it is.

Are billionaires a good idea?

No. Billionaires are a horrible idea. No one should control that much stuff.


1) I don’t know how I’m going to fund the arts; I don’t think it would be good if you weren’t allowed to fund the arts, and the government funded all the arts, but I think it would be better if the government funded more arts and taxes on the crazy rich people were way higher. Also maybe taxes on people who rent property instead of just own property, so that also gives them rights. I think that would be a good thing. Because then landlords couldn’t be like “ Oh, property taxes went up, so I’m going to make your rent higher.” Your rent would be higher of your own volition, like, just everyones rent would be higher.

2) I’m not sure I agree with you on that, but I feel like it’s beside the point

1) It is beside the point. I just think that, you know in Canada, there’s a bunch of sound artists, and like the difference is, Canada funds sound artists. And like, the united states doesn’t fund any sound artists

2) hashtag Boards of Canada

1) yeah, hashtag Boards of Canada, totally, and, yeah there’s lots of really weird, very fun

2) Well that’s cuz we don’t have like an arts thing. Although the government did fund that thing we saw last year, you remember, with the music? The Secretary of State funded this crazy like music program last year, but that’s like one thing with thirty people.

1) Yeah, but I mean people are always like “NPR, they’re government funded” but I think it’s like ten to fifteen percent funding; it’s not that much funding, and like, mostly people fund it. And, I don’t know, it would be better if we were funding more stuff

2) Well I think people think it’s funded by the government, and it’s not.

1) People are like, “oh, that’s not my responsibility.” I mean we can’t even get it in schools, how are we supposed to get it in the community.

2) That’s a good point. Are billionaires a good idea? Hypothetical question… I don’t feel like somebody gets to, like, have an idea, “I want to be a billionaire,” all the time.

1) I think they do, like right after something cool happens.

2) Yeah, maybe

1) Yeah, like, grin like a cheshire cat

2) Totally, but how many people think they’re going to be a billionaire and don’t; like why do people vote for people who are total assholes and outside of their best interests? Because they think they’re going to make a lot of money later, you know? And like, I don’t necessarily fault rich people for being rich people, but I feel like they should take more responsibility for the present moment. And taking care of stuff.

1) Well that’s like, another thing, so, in some ways, I always think about mansions, like big huge households, from way long ago, those were, yeah, rich people, and they were just kinda sitting around, but what they mostly did, was it was their responsibility to provide jobs for a community. So it was like, the one big rich family, and a town that was sort of connected to it, and the town basically served that family, but then, that family supported this entire community, and it was their responsibility, they took a lot of responsibility with it, where now, people don’t take as much responsibility, because everyone’s like, “eh, bootstraps.”

2) And I think things have become more commodified, like it’s just less based on the community, and the wellbeing of the community, versus just like completely transactional.

1) Right. Which is why I think, this is going to sound shitty, but I feel like, people and artists that are younger have less of a, like, fear of selling out. I think a lot more people are selling out. And like, there’s really amazing artists working for pepsi, and really amazing artists working for coke, and like, there’s just, that’s where the money is. And they’re following the money. So the amazing artists are not necessarily just making art, they’re making, I guess it’s applied art.

2) Yeah. Well, and also, how different is that than somebody who’s like, a school teacher, but then also makes art, or somebody who’s a banker who also makes art? Or, you know, we all do have to pay our bills, and there’s not a situation now where it’s feasible in a lot of cases to just be a working artist. Like the best working artists I know still work at restaurants, you know? Or the best working artists I know, like, can only live in subsidized housing. Like, and, are still working in restaurants. Like there’s not really like any way to have sustainability or have security over a long time. Unless like maybe you have a PhD and you can also teach. Or you have an MFA and you’re able to, like, somehow finagle your way into a situation.

1) So basically, no matter what, you’re still having to deal with some level of junk you don’t want to. School politics, or

2) Yeah, and maybe some people like that stuff, I mean like I don’t really want to make art full time; like I much prefer having it be something that is counter to some of the work that I do. But I maybe would prefer to not work full time on stuff that isn’t my art.

1) I think being kind of mindless is sort of good for making art. Like doing a job that’s kinda not fun. Is probably good for making art.

2) And I think sometimes some artists, myself included, really require some structure in order to like, enjoy unstructured time. You know? I think that that’s important. But I also know that I have, like way more privilege as somebody making art because I have a decent job, you know? And I can afford to buy more supplies and have a studio etc and things like that, and I don’t have to worry about my basic needs, where most artists who aren’t, like working a full-time corporate job or whatever, are still hustling.

1) We’re kind of like lulu, we’re self-publishing our shit. We’re paying for our own work to be made

2) Yeah, totally

1) Which is cool on some level, cuz like, no one’s buying you, or whatever, but it also only allows that opportunity to people who can do that, which is isolating.

2) Mm hm, totally. And it might not be sustainable, too. Like maybe I could fund myself to work part time and make art part time for like a year or two years, but then I probably would have to go back to work full time

1) So, like, hypothetical question: If you needed a bunch of money to make something that was bigger than what you normally make, that was, like, outside of your normal range, and it cost like a lot, but you’re like “this is really worth it, I want to make this other thing of a different scale,” what would be your first avenue to find that money?

2) I’d probably kickstarter it. I’d ask people I know for money. Because like grants and stuff take too long.

1) Right. Or you might not be what they’re looking for.

2) Totally, and I probably won’t get it. Like I mean, I guess I shouldn’t be discouraged from getting turned down for like one art thing, but in a way, that’s sort of how I feel? Cuz I can make art without having anybody say yes to me, so like why bother getting rejected, you know, if I can work at a smaller scale.

1) But if there was public funding for it, it would still probably be through a grant process

2) Yeah, totally, and it would be very bureaucratic

1) Or it would be, like, government funded studios, and you’d have to like apply to get into the studio

2) Mm hm, and then you’d have to, like, show your dedication in some way, or like, pay somebody off,

1) Wear a badge

2) Wear a badge? Yeah, maybe. I think some of us would be ok wearing badges. Do you mean, like, in a bad way or in a good way?

1) No, in like a, I don’t know

2) Not like in a pink triangle on your waistcoat kind of way?

1) No. Just like in general. Like wearing an advertisement. Like in the same way that they put up those arts community bullshit signs on the street signs in capitol hill? You’d be like, “look at me, I’m a representative of the arts community,” you’d be a walking billboard, basically

2) As like, basically people wearing Amazon shirts

1) Yeah.

The cookie recipe: We do not need any more philanthropists. We do not want your money. We do not even want your support. We do not even want you to love or care about art. All we want is for you to pay your taxes and leave the rest to democracy.

I wish that I would stop getting requests from people who get paid to do things unpaid or for very little money. I fantasize about if every artist said no, or got paid $45 an hour, those with money would see just how much energy we put towards the cultural flow of this city that makes it more livable for everyone. I never complain, maybe I should, but I wish arts professionals with paychecks really demanded that the artists they work with got paid too, and not a pittance, not $500 for something that takes 2 months of solid work. We all are in a bind, but I'm always the one footing the bill. It feels really raw to say this. I have expressed this before and even been told by another artist that I should just be grateful that I have opportunities that others don't. And I feel this too. I have lived in cities where there is no funding, and Seattle has multiple ways artists can get funding. But once you've managed to do all of those, how do we live if we don't make traditionally sell-able work? How do I compete for a living when people would rather buy $300 flip-flops? The bake-sale model is an actual reality with people crowdfunding and begging other struggling friends for $5-$10. But we still give each other $5-10 when we can, and many people get big things done this way, but are always depleting themselves over the long run.

I wish more galleries and auction houses would include more African American artists in their American art sales.

Being someone who’s an advocate for the arts, and completely focussed on enabling space for independent artists and giving them something, anything - a gallery, a wall, a purpose, an event - it’s really hard to ask for money, it’s really hard to ask for support, because people look at art as a luxury and something in addition to a lifestyle, and they look at it as a choice. And I don’t think being an artist always feels like a choice. I think that people choose to be a full-time artist, and choose to be, well, I don’t even know if I think that. I think people are artists because that is what they are, and they need the support. I think the best thing people can do in general is purchase art, whether it’s a gift for other people, or for yourself, just buy art - it’s good for everyone. It’s good for you to have it in your home.

When it comes to art funding in general, around the world and so forth, I guess we have to look at art spaces and art production as something that is culturally significant to your community, your world, your life, to everyone’s. Without art, what would you… everything would be a little dimmer.

Working independently in the arts is not an easy thing in the world, and especially the way that structures are in place in Seattle, you constantly have spaces shifting, changing, closing down; the amount of galleries that we’ve lost in the twelve years that I have lived here has been significant to the community, and the reason that they have closed is because there is not financial support for them. If you’re a commercial art gallery you have to live off of sales of work, and if you are based here in Seattle, you’ve got a small pool to pick from, or, a small pool who will pick from you, to support you. And when the funding is so limited, everyone’s competing with one another for grants, and it becomes this sort of, the pool gets even smaller and smaller with who’s actually being supported. And that makes for less diverse art production.

That’s kind of all I have; ultimately it’s about enabling space for the arts to really thrive in, and the arts thrive in spaces that are not necessarily a white-box gallery, but DIY, and of-the-moment, and relevant. Yeah, this is a tough one to talk about.

Being an artist comes with a level of financial instability that has lead me to make decisions in my personal life that are unsafe.

Empathy is change -- it is far less energy projecting outward one's thoughts of how something must feel, and far more energy absorbed inward towards another's perspective to radically change one's thoughts of how something must feel.

It'll be a great day when we awaken to our collective potential as communities to self-organize for justice, equity, and creative free expression for all.

At the Artist Trust auction a few years back, a featured artist said that there are some things that capitalism can’t fund. That art projects which require a decade of practicing, re-writing, rehearsing, to create something that there isn’t even a name for yet, those are not things that can be paid for in a capitalist society. Now he said this in front of a largely supportive audience, but there are also at that auction tables of folks from the business community whose existence is very much borne on and fed through and necessitated capital and capitalism, like Vulcan, which is a wealth management group, among other things, and among other businesses.

You know, I agree with the artist, of course, but, I just cringed at that word “capitalism.” Not because it isn’t accurate, it is. It’s one of several correct words to use, but it’s a flare word between the business community and the artists community. Artists by and large, they almost self-will themselves to stay outside the capitalist benefit zone, but they don’t like being out there, of course. Design products or architecture, some types of journalism, hollywood, pop music and others, they do quite well in capitalist America, but many of those fine artists spend their time in less marketable endeavors that need to be donor supported. Public art, theater, operas, orchestras, intense body performances which might take years, decades, or even a lifetime to fully draft, then edit, try again, fail, and try again and fail again until the masterpiece it was headed towards happens. But capitalism doesn’t support those projects without a clear end goal. It requires deliverables that fall within a range of time and cost. Those large projects, those large masterpieces - can we call them masterpieces? - those large projects can’t possibly make accurate estimates on time and cost. Because masterpieces, cultural touchstones - whatever you want to call them - are almost always the first of their kind. There’s no manual, there’s no best practice document, there’s no apprenticeship program, and most every step of the project requires the artist to invent the wheel. Even gathering bids from different contractors or suppliers, let alone approaching a bank for a loan is going to be a headache, you know, because you’re requesting time, material, and funding to experiment. So, the artist, the musicians, are not wholly familiar with the format, performers aren’t accustomed to the directions or movements; honestly, every single step can be a potential stumbling point, so what’s needed is time - for experiment, for failure, and not a whole lot of money, but usually a lot of financial alchemy, usually self-financing alchemy to keep it going. If that money comes with an expectation, and failure’s usually not a tenable possibility to those who can grant access to that kind of money.

I don’t know if we understand why things are valued the way they are. I feel that value comes from culture through the basis of desire, through all desires. I think that all products and services in some form, if you reduce them, are about trading culture. But the differences between us are what create desire, and we desire each other’s culture. And that’s why we trade, trade up or down, but we trade. And I think that’s, I don’t think we understand where value really comes from.

There’s a definition of anthropology as the sum total of ways of living that are built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from generation to generation. One of those ways of living that was developed is property as a concept. I think that the concept of property’s been around for probably longer than we could ever measure history, but it becomes more complex with each generation, and certainly more complex as the different communities knit themselves together around the world.

I think there’s a reason that the oldest works of art in recorded history are mostly luxury… mostly non-utilitarian items made of rare gems, minerals, fine metals, you know, not all production from that time, any of those periods was luxury, but, of course, the most expensive things are the ones that usually last the longest. ‘Cause they’re distinguished by a comparable lack of utility; in other words, ‘cause they don’t get used up - they have stronger materials. ‘Cause the budget for them was bigger, or they had better construction because there was more time allotted, or they even have a care-taking program to take them through centuries. So the most useless and ornate objects last longer than the ones that are used up by regular folks. Aother way of saying that is that the capital of any time gets accumulated, and investments that are high-end, things that appreciate, stay. They have staying power, like real estate, or possibly high-end art, or luxury goods, rather than simple goods, the things that are perishable, depreciable.

I wish nobody worried about money, and everyone had time to walk in the woods.

I’ve been thinking about art a lot as the city has been changing. New money, tech bros are coming in, and artists, queer people, people of color seem to be pushed out.

what are the different ways to fund an arts community? whose responsibility is it? whose fault is it? ("it’s my fault.” "good. you think that changes anything?")

i went from working at an arts organization that was barely scraping by to working at a multi-billion dollar tech company. part of of my motivation was to escape the cycle of grants, of too-little funding, of not knowing whether the projects would get funded or if we would have to shutter our doors; even though the work mattered, matters, is so important. part of the motivation was needing to have enough money to continue to live in this city, to get health insurance, to pay my bills. part of it was wondering if with a job that made a livable wage, whether I would be able to actually fund and create some of my own work, something that had been put on hold as i struggled to make ends meet at an arts organization.

i haven’t made any art since i started my fancy job at a tech company.

(i have been able to buy some art. for $50, $75, a few hundred dollars.)   but i can’t fund a whole community, and the artists I’m supporting are struggling and some of them are leaving the city. and now instead i feel weird and estranged from my artist friends, like the life i have is not relevant to theirs. and like i can’t make art myself anymore if i am not struggling. that’s no way to fund an arts community.

so what’s the solution?

for me it feels awfully tied up in the physical space of the city. in the neighborhoods. in the jobs. in who has exposure to who and knows about the lives and work of each other. if artists can’t afford to live in the city, the city will have no art. and if the artists are only funded by corporations and tech companies, i don’t know how the art can speak truth to power, knowing now how corporations work from the inside. 

i guess it’s all of our responsibility. people who have money should be funneling them into arts, supporting artists and galleries and organizations, and working to create integrated communities so that everyone, regardless of income, can experience art and step outside themselves into something larger. we need mixed income housing. we need social safety nets that make it so that people can create art because we need everyone to make a vibrant society, to make people question, to empathize, to be part of something larger, to say “wow” or “i don’t get it” or “that’s beautiful” or “how pretentious". 

but it shouldn’t be the dog fight that it has been. it shouldn’t have to be artists and organizations pitted against each other fighting for extremely limited resources. for organizations to constantly have to come up with new ideas to stay fresh, relevant, on-trend, with the new catch-phrases and tech-inspired jargon about ROIs and impact. art often requires capital but it should not be made into an instrument of capital, with the vision subsumed in business development speak and thinking.

there needs to be more to go around so that there is more art to go around. so that people can experiment and make mistakes and generate new ideas and bring new perspectives. what we have now seems awfully limited, if only the moneyed can show and only the moneyed can attend.