Print Edition: March 12, 2014
UFV’s fine arts grads of 2014 have had to implement the DIY principle to raise money for their grad show.
The show is a requirement for these students and it looks like this year’s class of a whopping 22 students will be scrounging to muster up every last dime to get this show on the road and successfully graduate.
I know this isn’t the only program where students find themselves in a struggles for funding, but more often than not, in life, the arts get the short end of the stick when funds are tight.
Why is this the case?
Perhaps the academically minded would argue that when it boils down to survival, music and paintings won’t fill your belly, or put a roof over your head (unless you use your canvas to make a tent).
I think our society’s view is that pursuing a career in the arts won’t land you a job that generates a steady income, and the arts don’t provide necessary goods and services. Therefore giving artists extra money won’t support the economy. Pursuing academics or business is more important because those avenues are more likely to provide a return on investment.
People want facts, not ideas. People want security, not the unknown. People want measurements, efficiency, and templates — people want money.
Personally, I identify with “the artist.” I am a musician, a creative thinker, a dreamer, and I can remember any melodic sentence I hear — not to mention find its harmonic partner. When asked the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I long to answer — “a singer.” Yet here I find myself at an academic institution, pursuing an academic career. Why is that? Honestly, it’s because I need to be practical and singers don’t make money — unless you are Justin Bieber or Katy Perry, and though they can sing a dang catchy melody that has a way of engraving itself into your brain, I have no desire to fall into the category of a “sell-out, pop-star millionaire.”
I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many diverse practitioners who work in the arts, and they have all expressed similar stories when it comes to their careers. Art is their passion and first love, but having a flexible job on the side to pay the bills and put gas in the car is a valuable asset to their artistic endeavors.
It’s pretty much general knowledge that a career in the arts is a struggle.
Let’s face it, pursuing fine arts or musical arts means big pain for small gain (well — financial gain). Artists pour their heart, soul, blood, tears, time, effort, and money into creating something beautiful or with a message and society often fails to recognize the value in that work.
The voice of practicality is loud and dominant.
The way I see it, artists need help! Their skills fall under a completely different category than those who are skilled in business, or than those who are more scientifically minded. However, rather than putting a price on which avenue, skill-set, or job will make more money, we need to partner together. Both these categories have value and when partnered together work toward a well-rounded, functional society.
Though the arts may not be in economic demand, they are in cultural demand, and society needs both.
Arts fuel culture, life, and human connections. Try to imagine the world without art. A trip with no music, a restaurant with no décor, the landscape without foliage, or the sky without the sun. The soul feeds off the creative aspects of life, and without them humanity would suffer greatly from a vast aesthetic void.
Money is tight — it’s a message we commonly hear, and as an artist, that message will soon be a familiar melody singing its dooming fate in your ear, but cheer up. There is always “money in the banana stand,” that is to say, government policies in place responsible for supporting the arts. Artists, you’ve just got to do some digging.
Consumers — you drink in the creativity of others every day. So stop trying to get music for free and pay the 99¢, buy a painting for your bland wall that someone spent time into creating, go to the theatre, and stop trying to get your friends to do your wedding music for free. We need to see the value the arts possess and learn not to take advantage of artists or take for granted what their work adds to our world.
Perhaps the challenge currently ahead of the BFA grads prepares them for the reality of the big wide world. But remembering the arts play a huge role in our world is important, and making a conscious effort to appreciate this side of society is significant for the artist and for you. The necessity for the arts is greater then you think.