Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two Takes (and some Muzaks) on the Economics of Art

So... almost as scary as this "Money" scene from Cabaret is the long-fraught relationship between money and the arts. Of late in Canada, most of this frightfulness has had to do with a lack of money, particularly in BC but also in other realms. I just wanted to point out two recent responses of note:

1) Tinygrants
Tinygrants is "an experiment in microfunding in the arts" led by Toronto curator and blogger Marissa Neave. What Neave wants to do is provide grants of $300 max to fund "creative interventions," which she seems open to defining flexibly. If you're looking to get some tinycash, the deadline is this Sunday, November 22. And if you're looking to give some tinycash to this project--something a few generous folks have committed--Neave wrote she was still seeking $250 at last tally. While I confess some skepticism about the long-term feasibility of the project, I admire Neave's gumption and optimism. Worth a look.

2) Mary Jo Hughes @ the Mark
Mary Jo Hughes is chief curator for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and in a recent op-ed for the Mark, Hughes provides some firsthand perspective on the impacts of falling arts funding. Though the consequences of government cuts and falling endowment revenues has been covered in many newspapers in the past few months, it's rare to see a curator go public in this way. As she notes, endowment revenues at the AGGV, once considered guaranteed income, have dropped to zero. The results are a 20% staff cutback, and, as she puts it, "Things fall through the cracks, deadlines are missed, exhibitions stay up longer, perks for members are reduced, and fewer programs are on offer." Again, this is nothing new to those who have been watching closely, but unusual for a head staffer to broadcast. Also worth a read for its recap on the BC arts cuts, which turned $48 million to $3 million in just one year! Wild. In a bad way.

Good thing the best things in life are still free... like more bad Youtube:

Also worth viewing on this theme: Bills, Bills, Bills by Destiny's Child and Gimme some money by Spinal Tap, which has the very awesome lyric "Your face is okay/But your purse is too tight/I'm looking for pound notes, loose change, bad cheques, anything/Give me some money." Maybe a museums development person could steal that one sometime?


Marissa Neave said...

Hi Leah,

I confess some skepticism about the long-term feasibility of tinygrants myself! In many ways it is supposed to be a project that starts and finishes (since it is my thesis project for OCAD), but I think more than providing a solution to problems in arts funding and cultural policy, it raises a lot of questions about the economic viability of non-commercial art in general. Amongst many other things.

I look forward to continuing my investigation into these issues and in the context of tinygrants.

Thanks for the mention!

alxclub said...

I look forward to more Notorious BIG on art blogs :D

Leah Sandals said...

Hey Marissa,

I look forward to seeing how the project turns out -- whether it's meant to be "educational" or not, you don't see too many people giving away cash as part of their thesis, at least not to someone who's not part of the university... : )

Yes, besides a lack of cash, Alx, I do think the art world suffers from a lack of Notorious BIG. Or at least I do.