Good evening (morning) everyone!
I want to thank everyone who came out to the soft premiere of The Dried Tobacco Project at Mary's Attic, the second installment of Songs of Survival at the Awakenings Foundation and Gallery (see photo above), and the Student Composers Concert tonight at Roosevelt University.
I am spread as thin as cheese on a cracker, but there has been an issue at the forefront of my brain lately that I am itching to discuss. I intend to be disrespectfully honest in this post.
What is wrong with you people--yes, you people--who are "too broke" to attend events?
We no longer live in a world where rich old white dudes want to give young, aspiring artists tens-of-thousands-of-dollars to sit around and think/write. So of course, we hear about blah blah blah entrepreneurship, blah blah. That's all fine and well. Lots of us are entrepreneurial and creative and hard working! I look around at my peers all the time and I am blown away by the work ethic and talent that I see. That is not an issue, especially in a competitive city like Chicago.
The issue is that we will kill the arts if we don't support one another. I believe, firmly, without a doubt, that a majority of the money we will all make in our lives will come from peer admiration (and a smattering of rare grants). If we aren't going out, networking, attending concerts/performances/exhibition openings, who will? Young artists are essentially the face of interest in the arts. So if there's a meaningful, kickass concert with really REALLY good music and 10 people in the audience, what non-musician will see its validity?
Are you following me?
You can work your face off at home, but if you aren't dropping $5-20 on a ticket for your friend or colleague's performance (provided, of course, that you don't have a prior engagement), why should you expect them to show face at yours? If this is a system that truly perpetuates itself (which, I believe, it does...), then how shall we expect this generation of artists to
1) continue to connect and be moved/inspired by one another
2) build careers in a world where art music/dance/film/poetry/art is highly misunderstood and under-studied by people?
Let me pose a solution for some of you who may actually be Broke AF.
Talk to your contact for an event, or call the venue if you don't have a specific contact for a show (though, if we're talking about peer patronage, as I'm calling it, then I'm sure you do have a specific contact) and ask about discounted tickets, volunteer opportunities, or mutual exchanges (like bringing people to the next night). It works. Every. Time. I have never been to a show where these weren't options. I have never attended an art event where volunteers weren't needed, and who would be a better volunteer than a friend of the artist at hand? This person would be a champion of the artist and probably an artist themselves.
All I'm saying is this--arts patronage is changing. And sometimes we have to work for free--but if we don't need to, we shouldn't. Sometimes, we can't pay for a ticket, but we should still appear (with a friend or two to build an audience) to show our friends and colleagues that we are as invested in their art as we hope they are in ours. Sometimes, we have to take off work (as I have) or de-prioritize social events, but if you're hoping to build a career in this city, I want you making it to every concert and event that you can. If you're a foodie you frequent good restaurants. If you're a runner, you check out every trail that you can hit the pavement on. If you're an artist, you attend art events. No excuses. No questions asked.
I am working on building several major art projects in this city. These are projects that will open the door for some of you. If you attend my events, I will attend yours, even if it means moving my schedule around. I swear by this stuff, and I hope all of you do too.
Long live art! Chicago is overdue for an artistic facelift.