I wonder how artists find ways to support their art. It’s a common theme that they have to take other jobs in order to pay for everyday things till they can…turn a profit/make money for their work. I think that was one thing that sticks in my mind when I think of a creative occupation and I continue to wonder how can these poor people make a living. It seems more disturbing when you think about society’s role in this, that we have become so industrialized and mass marketed that arts and artisans find it a challenge to make a living off their work. This makes me sad, and even sadder when I realize that my choices have contributed to their difficulty. But then I saw this and thought, there’s hope.
Yes, I know it’s a little bit of a commercial for the Goethe Institute, but the effort seems solid. I admit I looked up the Goethe Institute and started poking around in the services they provide, mind you I have never had any interest in learning German, but nevertheless I found myself looking at their tuition prices. I then caught myself saying, do you want to learn German? Not that it’s a bad language, but it was not on my list of things to do and that list is long enough no need to add another language to it yet. It was nice to see that artists can still find patronage from sources.
But it made me wonder why we, as an advanced society, don’t seem to produce as much support for the arts and crafts. It made me think of an interview I watched which featured Muhammad Yunnis on NHK where he was of course discussing microcredit/microfinance (small loans issued to impoverished people to aid in entrepreneurial projects) which are designed to help people gain financial independence and leave behind poverty. It’s a very noble idea and has proved to be quite successful. Now whether you like the guy or not is up to you, but he brought up an interesting topic, that of social business. Social business practices as opposed to selfish (from any business structure) motivations are two different things. To me they are two different ways of handling your goals, selfish is short-term planning the organization thinks of only how much money you can make for yourself regardless of the effect it will have on the community whereas social considers how your business improves the community which is long-term growth as a growing community helps to improve and grow your business. Most times a business which focus on only maximizing its profit creates a culture of self-interest. Effectively if the company is only looking out for itself by the same token the employees will only work in a way that serves their own interests. Employee will do the least amount of work for as much money as they can get. The only motivation is money, there are minimal benefits as they are directed to the individual. But if a business sees money as a means to an end and makes the community an integral part of their business plan, they seek to create a vested interest for the community and one outcome is helping to develop the community. Inherently the business grows with the community. The benefit is exponential growth, the entire team looks to produce in a way that is good for the community and good for the company. As a byproduct as the community improves and the company grows the value for the individual grows.
My thinking is that social business also has a tendency not to neglect arts and supports the craftsman. It has to be on a smaller scale and focus on a smaller scope. My own opinion is that in place of a corporate entity (which legally is not an individual but a legal entity) it should be a collective of smaller groups. This creates a checks and balance system as the business structure is flat rather than top-down. The craftsman can create their niche market and establish a stable customer base. Artists may be able to achieve the same structure, additionally the community can create a fund which helps to fund artists or galleries which help showcases their work. Other creative structures can be developed. But the community has to understand the value of artists and craftsman, and that appreciation needs to be developed from a young age and rooted in the community. I think this will help improve the community overall. I don’t think it’s about amassing a lot of things we don’t need, but evaluating and considering what the true value of craftsman and an artist. But this is just my opinion. What’s your stance?