On Being An Artist Today

There are a few of us, still trying to hang on, fingers gripped on a rickety gutter pulling away from a multi-story neglected house. Clinging not because of a dream, or some need for attention, but because of a true, gut centered calling. A nagging, divinely sent provocation that art is necessary despite what the world tells us. We put up with condescension from those less trained and younger than us, we deal with disregard, we pay dues long after we should have been allowed in the club, we work for less than our training, certifications, degrees should demand.

We do it not for glory, fame, or recognition even.

We do it because if we don’t, then it’s one less voice heard, one less line written.

One less viewpoint illustrated, danced, or sculpted.

We artists are a tribe that is under the threat of extinction.

We are misunderstood, not valued, often maligned.

Nonetheless, we are a scrappy, tough lot, and by virtue of what we have to face, possess admirable survival skills.

But we are tired, and vulnerable, and because of the sensitivity necessary to make art—worn down, and could use some allies.

We are susceptible to many threats; economic, health care availability/affordability,

a lack of creative home/incubators. . .

but nothing is more threatening than the devaluing of art in our society.

What does it look like? It looks like the first thing to be cut from a school budget. It looks and sounds like background music. It sounds like “Ok, I’ll play for free”. It looks like the illegal copying of books, plays, poems, art.

It’s the illegal recording of music, plays, film.

It’s not being paid because your service is perceived as a hobby, not a vocation.

And it’s the artist who agrees to work for free or for less than they are worth,  thus joining in a perpetual cycle of devaluation.

Imagine a world without art. Blank walls. Empty books. Silent cafes. Nothing coming from a radio, ipod or tv but a droning voice with news or InfoTainment. No theatre. No school plays. No marching bands. No different drum beat to march to. No macaroni art or baby plaster hand. No Ode for Joy. No dancing. No poetry. No sculpture. No graffiti. No metaphor.

We are on the verge.

We don’t encourage our children to go into the arts. Why should we encourage economic ruin? I hear it all the time….

“Will my child make a living? “


“Will my child be happy and fulfill their calling?”

The problem isn’t if your child will make a living. The problem is that this world, our society devalues art.

It’s not time for a renaissance. It’s time for a revolution.

What are you going to do about?