Recession-Proof Artists and Critics

Hundreds of artists responded to The New York Times’ request for stories and thoughts on how the economy is affecting their lives and work.  Read about the variety of responses.  Some people are upbeat and hopeful while others are pessimistic.  And still others are motivated and more committed than ever to pursue their art.  Watch this video – both inspiring and sad – about Alexander Conner, a recent college graduate who is pursuing his career as an artist while making about $12,000 per year.  His commitment, focus, and even his weekly bread-making are admirable, but only time will tell whether his long-term goal of “sustainably making art” is feasible.

Meanwhile, a recent segment on Studio 360 by Jonathan Mitchell discusses how arts critics must reinvent their role in light of layoffs and closings of newspapers and magazines.  Not surprisingly, the focus is on individuals who have turned to blogging.  They might not be getting paid, but they’re passionate about arts criticism and engaging with readers (check out the Performance Club discussion about last week’s New Economy Smack Down).  Douglas McLennan, the editor of ArtsJournal, mentions that arts bloggers now make up “a rich stew of voices”, while Sasha Anawalt, the director of arts journalism programs at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, suggests that arts bloggers have enabled a larger pool of artists to gain recognition.  She says, “Once you’re out there and someone’s blogged about you, you exist.”  True, recognition is gratifying – for both artists and arts bloggers.  But in a way, artists and their critics are in the same boat.  Too often, neither can make ends meet doing what they love to do.  This is sad and problematic, but the boom in arts bloggers (which I’m proud to be a part of) and the perseverance of artists – reflected in both the Times article and the Studio 360 clip – illustrate the strength and passion of the arts community even during troubling times.

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2 Responses to Recession-Proof Artists and Critics

  1. The Studio 360 clip is brilliant as always. I particularly “liked” the speaker who relayed the most-likely-to-survive these tough times demographics: (to paraphrase) the young (who perhaps don’t mind making $12k a year) and the trust fund kids (who have money, confidence and infrastructure underneath them). These non-diverse demographics can skew the art-making in some bland directions if not balanced out.

    I am also more and more (painfully) aware that bloggers too gotta keep their jobs (which some of them actually have as bloggers!). So they gotta drive traffic to their sites. Meaning? The more controversial, hyperbolic, rude, one-sided they are, the more traffic they will get. I am not pointing any fingers (well, I might be but not here).

    Thanks for mentioning the New Economy Smack Down which we, The Field, proudly hosted. and, of course, our BLOG! We are doing our best to talk about economic revitalization, skill-build around it, and get balls rolling. As Miss Arwen and Brian Rogers say on the P Club blog: start local, start with your own piece of the pie and make it happen at home first.

  2. artist says:

    thanks for your sharing, i’d love to follow u. happy new year!

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