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14 November 1996

Peanuts for Artists

I went to an Arts Council presentation on "the status of the artist." It was, predictably, terribly boring. A couple of artists said life is hard, a consultant on "The Career Paths of Visual Artists" said focus groups had identified numerous financial problems associated with art as a "career," and a statistician said 37 percent of artists earned less than $8,000 in 1994/5. The administraitors, most of whom make at least at least five times as much as they artists they "serve," looked on with looks of compassion and concern. Having conclusively established that artists work for peanuts, that's what they gave us. Like the event, it was something to chew on, but not much.

And later ...

I don't normally think of this as an interactive notebook, but an associate noticed the above paragraph on my computer screen as I was writing it. He said he couldn't resist the urge to comment on it, so he did.

"What you don't understand," he said, "is that nowhere is it written that the Arts Council is supposed to do a thing for artists; they're supposed to support the arts."

I agreed that this was new information for me. Never having been plagued by insomnia, I've never read an Arts Council publication. I got confused pondering whether one could support the arts without supporting artists, or vice versa.

"And anyway," he added, "the survey didn't address the quality of the art work. It's amazing that some `artists' get any money at all."

I agreed, grateful that he'd provided the common ground each of us needed to make a graceful exit.

"You're right" I replied. "Most artists and most arts administraitors are crap."

My associate concurred. "Everyone on that panel should be shot."

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart