Art Talk | Do We Need Artists in the City?

As an arts researcher and visual artist, I felt compelled to debunk some of the stereotypes and standing myths that were raised by the public about what it means to be an artist.The article We need artists to solve the challenges of this century, published in the Globe and Mail on June 12, 2012 and written by OCAD President Sara Diamond, generated a variety of mixed comments, the majority of which reflected stereotyped perceptions of the artist. Some of which I address here. Continue reading Art Talk | Do We Need Artists in the City?

Artist’s Rant

As an artist, low incomes are unjust. They do not befit a modern and just society. The government and donors are obliged to raise the income levels in the arts through subsidies and donations, but also through social security. Sure, economists say that the effects of these remedies will mean that more people will become artists and therefore will end up earning low incomes. This is an excuse. If everyone wants to become an artist, there should have the freedom and support to become ONE.

Little is mention that the meanings of an “artist” and “art” have changed. I struggle with the claims that anything is called “art” these days. The artistic talent has decreased. Recognition and talent is mainly determined by the choices of the elite community. After elites’ approval, the artist becomes recognized and it then when government funders/donors open their doors to the artist. Therefore, subsidies serve as a sign of approval of elite tastes and so existing elite distinction is either increased or reinforced. These elite choices in the arts set the stage and precedence for the artistic community and society.

There is evidence that real incomes in the arts have gone down considerably over the last decades, such as in Australia, in Europe, in the U.S. and in Canada. Furthermore, the increased competition between artists for the available work continues the trend toward lower incomes. The elite preferences for modern and avant guard arts had made many artists, who originally never were painters, entered the art world for commercial purposes.

Arts contribute to the economy and must be supported. If arts were to suddenly disappear in a particular city or a country, the economic effects would certainly be substantial. Government subsidies give artists the freedom to make “art” that in their eyes deserved to fetch high prices. Subsidies recognize artistic endeavours and artist can also afford not to sell. As an artist is important to concentrate in art making and not in art selling. It is ironic that artists are supposed to be a selflessly devoted to their art? Does this means that we, artists are immune to rewards? How immune is an artist when he feels are gazing over our shoulders, who either praise our work or condemn it?  How immune is an artist when he feels starving? How do I satiate my starvation to paint? ~ Marisol