The wine was poured, your laugh muscles are exhausted and philosophical discussions are in full swing. One of your friends makes a trivial remark in passing and instantaneously everyone descends into their glasses without speaking until one person articulates what it is on everyone's mind: “What the hell am I doing with my life?” Sound familiar? “Mary's saying yes to her promotion on Snapchat, Luke is venturing the world on Instagram, Sophia is birthing new life on Facebook - #mylifeisbetterthanyours – meanwhile I'm sitting at home in my sweatpants, filling up on I-feel-sorry-for-myself Ben and Jerry's - #solonetflixandchill – and just can't seem to get going.”
We divide our life into two major categories: personal and occupational. So when one goes wrong, we can always depend on the other. Your boss may be a real jerk, but you can look forward to bawling out your frustration at the hockey game. Your boyfriend may have walked out on you, but your scheduled talk for next weeks convention, which you have drilled to perfection, will recoup those self-doubts.
But what if you decide to combine the two? What if you decide to turn your hobby into your profession?
One of the first questions we ask to get to know a person is: „So, what do you do for a living?“ „I'm an actress.“ Now, there are two universal reactions that follow this statement. Number one: „Can you actually live off of that?“ Or number two: „Wow, so am I going to see you in Hollywood soon?“ If your answer is „no“ you are either met with pity or disappointment. The problem with pursuing a career in the arts is that there is no clear path to follow. If you want to become a soldier you join the military. If you go to school for carpentry you become a carpenter. But if you have a Fine Arts degree in dance - where do you go from there? And maybe you never attended a single university course on literature, but you end up writing. It begs the question... what is art? A single black dot on an 80 square inch white wall? A complicated symphony? A 500-year-old story retold in a modern society context? What is the definition of a true artist? A red carpet? Pain and suffering? Attaining fame only after you are six feet under? What does it mean to be professional? Being on time? Making money? Speaking truth through those words on a page, movements in a space or paint on a canvas?
From cave paintings, to ritual dances to theatrical storytelling, art was born with humanity and has grown into a tool with a triple purpose: to express our own emotions, to pass knowledge on to others, as well as to entertain. There is no single definition. But in our obsession to explain everything we have tried to pin it down - and two major contrasting ideas have emerged: the struggling, suffering artist and the successful star. Somewhere along the road of western civilization the idea of art has changed. It has become less about sharing and more about showing off. Less about passion and more about prestige. Less about community and more about competition. That's why we spend the first hour of the Oscars gossiping about who has big enough boobs to pull off what dress and listen to wannabe pop-star-voices trying to out-belt each other in casting shows.
Art reflects on and is a reflection of society and ours has forgotten the beauty of simplicity. Everything has to be big nowadays. The problem with that is that if you try to make things bigger than what they actually are, all you end up doing is fill a void with hot air and you're left with a tiny blimp of art floating beyond your grasp. So instead of focusing on substance, which consequentially does not exist, you have no other choice but to occupy yourself with the surface. I'm not advocating that every modern-day-artwork is superficial. Absolutely not! But it is striking how in the industry many famous actors' faces and bodies are redesigned in post production and how much auto-tune you hear on the radio. Producers and record labels have the final say and they want to (and have to!) sell. So you try to stay away from the present -day market and concentrate on the good old days when art still had meaning. Well that is easier said than done, because you are entering the territory of educated snobbery. Wait, you can't tell the difference between a Renoir and Monet? What do you mean you can't hear if it's Bach or Mozart? And you can't name the 40 authors of the Bible? You don't belong here, pal! Fine! You do your own thing then! Ah, but see, the thing is … what is so special about you? What makes you better than the others? Why should I fund your project if you are a no-name? Go get some followers, become a YouTube influencer and then we can talk!
If you want to survive in today’s world you cannot just be an artist. You also have to be an agent, publicist and marketing manager. It is not sufficient to know and master your craft, but must also be able to promote and sell yourself. Hell, we didn't sign up for art school for this! All we want to do is create. So there, we get ourselves a day job. And not the I'm-waitressing-while-going-to-auditions-struggling-artist-kind-of-day-job! A real 30- to 40-hour employment. And look at that! All of a sudden, we are no longer perceived as artists. We are accountants, teachers or technicians who like to paint, make music or act in our spare time. But the worst part is that we start believing it ourselves. We start to believe that we gave up on our dream, when, in reality, we are looking for ways to make it come true.
Being an artist is an art in and of itself because you have to find your own unique way of doing it. We often mistake perfectionism for professionalism. But by trying to make things perfect, all you do is try to please everybody else and, slowly but surely, you lose track of what it was you were actually trying to say. If we wait for perfection in order to be something we will never be anything. I'm a musician who can't read notes. I'm an actress who hates going to auditions (more on that later). I'm a writer who can't spell and a dancer who can't do turns worth a damn and hardly lift her leg up to 90 degrees.
But no matter what I do, I do it with passion. I love being part of something, performing with other artists and sharing our energy with the audience. I don't care about awards and fame as long as I get the chance to say what I want to say (although I wouldn't say no to the perks of fortune...). You want to be a musician? Be a musician! You want to be a painter? Be a painter! And don't let the source of your main income devalue your work. We can experience happiness yet still feel melancholic. We can walk while drinking coffee. We can be a Mom and a banker at the same time so why can't we be a florist and a dancer?
Coming to that conclusion I ask myself, ‘am I just writing this to convince myself that the path I have chosen, am choosing and will choose is right’? Maybe. But sometimes it's good to remind ourselves that it's okay to take and live by the advice we give others. So, my fellow artists and stuck in “what-the-hell-am-I-doing“ friends, in the end it comes down to this: Look at the kids, the travels and advancements, be happy for your loved ones and move on. Continue following your path. Because chances are Mary, Luke and Sophia are looking at you right now, feeling just as envious. Let people pity and question you. Those are their emotions, not yours, and they have to deal with them, not you! Don't let anyone rush you and don't rush yourself. You do not have to live every day as if it were your last! Have that ice-cream, binge-watch the Nanny and don't find excuses for doing it … just enjoy it. Do everything at your own pace, because if you walk your own path, no one can outrun you.
The only person you spend the entire span of your life with, from the time you wake up in the morning until you go back to bed at night, is you. You are the only one you are truly married and bound to for the sum total of your days. So you had better enjoy it … ‘cause if you don't… who will?
Artists are people, too. And like all other people, we, too, have our character flaws, blind spots, annoying idiosyncrasies and moments of ill-considered dopeyness. We are not immune to tunnel vision and can fall, like our fellow humans, into tightly clad ideologies that ensnare our works into tightly clad postures. And sometimes, because of our thoughtlessness, our creativity and our work have been used for such things as propaganda and ideological glorification (The Nazi Propanganda film Triumph of the Will comes to mind), for underscoring stereotypes and prejudices (westerns like Canyon Passage), for propagating misconceptions and lies about historical and current events (how about those happy slaves in Gone With the Wind), and for oversimplifying life, distracting us from the
things that should be demanding our attention (much of television springs to mind, although I do admit, a reasonable amount of distraction is necessary for our sanity).
Yes, artists are people, too. And like all people, we have a point of view we adhere to and a point of reference we work out of. That said, the questions are, should we strive toward neutrality in order to avoid the aforementioned “perils”? Is that even possible? And do we want that? Well, let’s be clear. Artists are not journalists, whose responsibility it is to be objective and dispassionate. We are not here to preach and proselytize, nor to be impartial bystanders, disinterestedly analyzing life’s innerworkings. The idea of personal distancing is useless to us. Our willingness to be personal and subjective is our greatest asset. Our willingness to react emotionally and passionately is the thread that connects us to our surroundings. And our willingness to feel the anger, fear and hatred of our fellow human beings as well as their joviality and contentment, then focus on what lies below it, gives our work depth and opens in us the wherewithal to portray the psychopath as well as the free
spirit, the traveler as well as the town dweller, and all those motley members of the human race in between, while projecting their universal human complexity and sameness. So the answer is a cautious “no” to all three questions.
“The artist cannot hold himself aloof!”
While visiting Spain, in the throes of their civil war in 1938, Paul Robeson made this statement. Continuing on, he said, “……… the artist is challenged [and] the challenge must be taken up. For this culture, a legacy from our predecessors, is the foundation upon which we build a higher and all- embracing culture.” These idealistic words call to the artist to embrace his/her/their access to the emotions of the multitudes, embrace their ability to stir those hearts and share an elevated world vision. All ye artists! Rise up with the crowd! Stand on the soapbox of your labor! Testify and make noise for everyone who will and will not pay attention! In 1949, when Paul Robeson stood in the midst of the miners in Scotland and sang “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night”, he gave voice to their economic, social and political plight, identical to his own, capturing in one song the struggles of generations. One senses the kinship they felt and understanding they shared, even through the film lens of 70 years past. A transcendent moment. The horrors of lynching, captured in mournful observation by the poet Lewis Allen. Billy Holiday wailed her sadness through the words and soulful melody of “Strange Fruit”, the meaning was clear to all who heard it.
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees
Her shout was the whisper of her voice. Her soapbox was a single stage light darkening all else around her. Her testimony was enclosed in a carefully orchestrated moment finishing out her program for her safety, leaving audiences with an indictment of remissness. There was danger in speaking this truth. But she spoke it and as an artist of great integrity and courage, she did not abandon it.
Talk of the abuses of slavery! Humbug! The thing itself is the essence of all abuse!*
Writer and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe could not remain quiet about the barbarity of
American slavery. I read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” for the first time about 8 years ago. As a teenager in school, I protested the book along with many of my fellow students without ever having opened it. In those days to be called an “Uncle Tom” was one of the worst insults in the black community and nobody wanted to touch that hot potato. And we wondered, in our young and rebellious manner, what a white woman could possibly have to say about slavery, a subject so personal to us. But in my more mature years, I decided it was time to read this work that had more impact on events than we then guessed. Surprising myself, I cried several times as I read it. But more importantly for me as an artist, at a certain point, I knew the book was not meant for me or the African-American community. She wrote this book for an oblivious and uninformed white community, many of whom may have had good hearts but had either distanced themselves from this reality or just weren’t looking. This was a call to Harriet’s community to recognize the depths of evil in a system that was destructive to all those it touched.
Hear the call and see through my eyes.
Like Harriet Stowe, all writers create characters through whose eyes we see, and through whose experiences we feel. In the realm of social justice and change, we are hit hard through those characters with the reality they endure through abusive institutions. Charles Dickons gave us Oliver Twist to illuminate the hardships poverty ravages on a family, what suffering it visits on a child and how people are driven to lives they would, in other circumstances, have avoided. He gave us Ebenezer Scrooge as a rich man, heartless and unfeeling, who feels justified in his avarice. But Dickons also shows us the source of his very real pain and his road to redemption. Victor Hugo gave us Jean Valjean whose criminal transgression was due to his destitute circumstances, but even after living an exemplary life, receives no mercy from the law. He gave us Fantine, tormented by those around her because she has had a child out of wedlock – trapped in a moralistic society that has lost
generosity of spirit. In Harburg and Gorney’s song “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”, a leitmotif for the 20 th century depression, a working man turned beggar states sad bewilderment at the abandonment of his country that he has given so much of his life for.
Keepers of the mirror
We hold up the mirror and tell the world to look, behold its reflection and its truth. This is as an enormous responsibility, and all of us have to work hard to live up to it. Like the journalist, we must research and explore. Like the preacher, we must look to the spirit of participants and events. Like the therapist, we must search for the heart. Like the town dweller, we must sense the impact of community. And like travelers, we must acknowledge the universality of the living soul. Our work should not make people stop thinking but encourage them to start. Our work should open the mind to questions and curiosity. And at times, we can allow the conversation to begin with our own questions. Have you seen what is going on? Is this how we want our world to be? Sometimes we have to take a chance and take a stance on what we think is right. And if we’ve done our homework, maybe we will be taking another step in the direction of Paul Robeson’s “higher and all-embracing culture.”
*Augustine St. Claire in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
“You're a bit late”
From what I can tell over the phone, she not only seems to be a very open and sweet person, but she is also a person eager to learn everything she can about where to go, how it works and what experiences I have had in the real world... “And how was that for you? Is state-run really better than private? Where do I even start to prepare for the entrance exam?” My old friend's little brother's girlfriend is considering going into acting after her business studies and I am more than glad to share my knowledge with her. She is so lovely and I can feel myself reliving the excitement that I first felt when I decided to pursue the arts as a career. But then she says something that makes my blood boil. Well, it's not so much what she says, than her quoting a statement that was made to her. “Oh... you are 23? You do know that is a bit late to start out in acting right?”
For those of you who are not familiar with the situation, here in Germany there are two different types of acting schools - those that are run by the state, and the privately-owned academies. While the state-run schools are free-of-charge they only accept about 8 students per year out of a pool of 600 - 2500 applicants. Many claim that graduates from state-run schools are better for that reason - they only accept real talents in the first place, while private schools will take anyone because they need the money. However, there are a lot of questionable politics involved. The rule that the age limit for state-run acting schools is 24, is one example.
Acting is by far not the only field where “boosting the young and fresh” is preached. Have you ever tried arguing with someone who believes that „in order to be successful you have to start young”? If you ask me, that idea is problematic on multiple fronts. For one thing, it puts enormous pressure on our youth to be active in as many areas as possible ('till the point where they become overwhelmed), and it creates the illusion that once you hit 25 your life is set, your life is over, it only goes downhill from there.
I can't really talk about other cultures and, yes, there have been times in the past also where aging was considered to be something negative (the fountain of youth comes to mind) but our modern day, western society seems to be obsessed with youth to a degree where we are actually petrified by wrinkles and bald spots. (And I will admit - I almost cried the other day when I thought I spotted my first gray hair). Of course the arts are not unaffected by these notions. Worse yet, the artistic world is pushing them. Botox and plastic surgery in Hollywood, retouched photographs of models on billboards, blowing the audience away with tricks and effects... I could go on and on. But aren't the arts supposed to challenge popular beliefs? Aren't we supposed to be the ones who make the impossible possible, miracles happen and show that there are not one but many other ways?
I have met so many people over the years who wanted to be dancers but would now never become flexible enough, singers but would now never be able to create that range in their voice, actors but would now never be able to break into the industry, musicians but would now have no way of competing with those who have worked with music software programs since they were 14. Seems to make a lot of sense, doesn't it? But then I wonder... how did the guy I met on set who started performing in his 40s and the woman I read about who launched her career in her late 80s do it? How did I become a dancer and dance teacher when I didn't truly start pursuing dance until I was 21? How did my mom become a singer, my friend a painter, my old colleague a film maker? Are we all exceptions? Are we especially talented? Or did we simply find the nerves to say: Fuck it! I'll do it anyway!
It's about what you bring to the table
Sometimes we have to drown out those voices from outside and inside our own heads. We have to take that leap of faith, go for what we want and trust that... no matter what happens... we will be okay. But hey! I get it. Much easier said than done, right? That's a great mindset when you don't have mouths to feed, bills to pay or a retirement to save up for. There are certain responsibilities that come with age and the choices we make in life and we don't all have the privilege to hit “reset” and start over. As Arianna Huffington stated: Failure is not the opposite of success. It is part of it. Can we allow ourselves to fail once we get older? There are financial aspects to be considered as well as personal ones. Can we really allow ourselves to invest our money, energy and time into an artistic field of our choice when we can't say for sure what we will gain from it? My answer is yes! Because while none of us can say for sure where that path will eventually lead us, I can guarantee you, that the journey will be a rewarding one. Learning an art form means learning about the world that exists within the realms of that form, the world that surrounds us and the world that lives within us. It is fascinating to me how the laws of physics and psychology come together so a human being can create a composition consisting of paint, sound or movement. We draw from what we see, approach topics from a different angle, examine subjects more precisely – and learn so darn much about ourselves in that process.
You know what the best thing about art is? It's not about speed! It's not about quantity! It's about what you bring to the table! Just think of all those experiences you can draw from, what stories you have to tell and if you are drawn to an art form, chances are there is a reason that art form wants you to speak through it.
I know what you are thinking. That's all nice and fluffy and hippie and all, but it doesn't change biological truths. It doesn't change the fact that when you are younger you do learn quicker, your bones and voice are still developing and you simply have more time to master your craft. Aye, there's the rub – to put it in Hamlet's words. We have this idea in our heads that we are only allowed to call ourselves true artists once we have perfected our craft. Even once we have completed our studies, visited multiple master classes and achieved our goal of performing or displaying our work in our dream space... Can we ever truly declare ourselves fully baked artists with no more to learn? No? Then why in turn not believe a person just starting out already is an artist who has something to say? Art is ever changing and ever evolving. The way you create today might not be the same tomorrow. So if you can't let yourself fall on the floor anymore... choose a different move. If you can't reach those high notes... transpose. If they won't hire you... make your own. If your fellow musician has more knowledge of that music software.... it's okay! Your music is not supposed to sound like theirs!
To quote Whoopie Goldberg quoting Rainer Maria Rilke: “If, when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing… then you are a writer.”
“The same age you will be if you don't”
I do not believe that just anyone can be an artist. I don't think producing tones is the same as singing or moving parts of your body is dance. I don't think you can just put a splotch of paint on a wall and call yourself a painter. You might disagree with me and I am curious to read why. For myself, I see a true piece of art of any kind to be an interplay of skill, talent and a hell of a lot of hard work.
Ha gotcha! - you might be thinking. So, there must BE certain criteria to call yourself an artist. If not age and duration of working in the field, what are they? How do you measure skill, talent and hard work in the arts? I will not presume to know the answer to that. But just as I don't believe that your grades in high school will define whether you will be a good doctor or not, I don't believe the importance of what you have to say can be determined by something as superficial as weight, ethnicity, gender or age.
If you are called to the arts early on, that's great! I also started performing relatively young because that is what I loved to do. But my mother is a performer. Our whole family life was centered around music and theater. If a child's family does not expose them to the arts, how can they know whether they like it? Maybe you weren't at a place in your life before where pursuing an art form seemed like an option. But you are at that place now. Whether you will make a full-on career out of it is not up to any of us to decide really. And you will meet people who have already made up their minds about the correct starting age. But we need to give people the opportunity to change their minds. If they are not confronted with an alternative – why would they rethink their position? But first and foremost we have the right to be happy with our life. And that happiness will in turn animate others.
Art does not belong to the young, the beautiful and able-bodied. Art belongs to whomever is touched by the action of creation. Just imagine what you might create if you let yourself. Who is to say how good you will be? How will you know if you don't try?
And if I still have not managed to convince you... maybe Julia Cameron will. When she was asked: “But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano / act / paint / write a decent play?” the author and teacher answered: “Yes . . . the same age you will be if you don't.”
ALSO ON THIS TOPIC: Julia Cameron - The Artist's Way
At 19, I decided to be a dancer. That decision cascaded out of me like a wave, from a deep
passion that I couldn’t quite identify or describe. Even now, words are insufficient. I suddenly knew what a calling was, and I chose to answer it. And it was thrilling, taking 2-3 classes a day, performing in small theaters and bohemian basements, watching the great modern dance companies and taking master classes with iconic figures. It was fantastic and I let it take me for a ride where I learned so much about myself and the gifts given to me by the Greatest of Spirits.
Ten years later, divorced and a single parent, I had no viable income, no decent health care
for myself or my child, and no back-up credit. I couldn’t afford an apartment, given all the expenses that go along with it, or day care so that I could work. Of course, there isn’t a day care in the world that operates during the hours that a performing artist works. So, broke and out of options, I went back home.
One could ask if I was any good. The truth is, I never lacked for “work”. From the beginning,
I worked. I learned and I worked. And I must have had something, because I was asked to be a part of many projects, even in the very early years. I loved it, and I reiterate, I worked really hard – we all did. But we would rehearse for weeks, many times a week, and receive in payment only $50 per performance, and we were lucky if there were more than 3 performances per project. The rehearsal time was hardly ever compensated, and when it was, it was pathetically symbolic. A living wage did not exist. We would teach classes to earn some kind of consistent money, but we were paid by the student and the actual times we taught. No class, no money, no consistency. And since the number of students in independent studios was always fluctuating, our income fluctuated to the same degree. No, I don’t blame the independent choreographers, composers, writers, those creative artists who grapple themselves with financial viability, needing the performing artist to bring their
creations to fruition. I’ve been on both sides of that coin. But the truth is, I’ve paid out more than the work has paid me. So to live, I’ve been a waitress, a hostess and a model. I’ve set up databases for a museum and a theater on the computer (yes, really, back in the day when it was really simple). I’ve been a store clerk, a bank teller, a loan teller, a bookkeeper, a babysitter and a filing clerk for bad loans……..I’m sure I’m forgetting something, and grateful for the memory lapse.
Today, I am a singer and still have no money, none to speak of, that is, and I used to feel
embarrassed by that fact. Now, I don’t. I came to realize over the last several years that my financial status is a direct result of societal constructs, the appraisal of the value of whatever goods are being produced, and wage hierarchies that go way back. The problem is not that I chose the wrong field. I feel blessed in the work that I do and very gratified when that work touches the hearts of others, which in turn touches mine. The problem lies in the structures of a society that decided centuries ago that the artist is provided for at the whim of a population (or certain members of that population) that may or may not understand who she is, what he is saying and what lens through which they look at the world. Many artists are not appreciated until they’re dead, and somebody else makes a lot of money off the work they spent their days and nights agonizing over.
But what is the pecuniary state of the world of the artist? To pretend that the artistic world is not elitist, to pretend that it is equitable, is to ignore the obvious. There are some few of us, whether lucky or well-placed, who earn exorbitant amounts of money, while most of the rest of us wonder if next month or next year, we’ll be able to pay the bills. The artists who do join the elite class are not the only ones with talent and passion, and the determination to use them, not by any means, but because we live with the illusion that this world is a meritocracy, this state of affairs is accepted as not only admissible, but fair.
There is a small middle class who work at established institutions – universities, conservatories, state funded metropolitan ensembles, i.e. orchestras, dance and theater companies and the like – but its existence does not make up for the great divide between rich and poor in the artistic community. We search for choices in order to stay in our field, but those available to struggling artists range from deficient to laughable. We should not have to teach if we have no propensity to do so, especially if we are not trained. Pedagogy is its own calling and should be respected as such. We should not be thrown into competitive scenarios that pit us against one another, vying desperately for attention, as voyeuristic entertainment, for a mere pittance so we, maybe, survive another year - we do not become artists for sport. We should not have to be dependent on a partner with a viable income, just so that we have the possibility to fulfill our work. A loving relationship should be free of such a burden. In conversations with fellow artists, it becomes clear that way too often, our best work is not the work that pays. Those lucrative events determine what we do, and too often our hearts are left on the sidelines. Out of necessity we fall into mediocrity and meaninglessness and our spirits are drained. Only when we are lucky, do compensation and genuineness come together. However, depending on luck as a way of life is precarious, to say the least.
We need a living wage.
It was during the primary campaign of the USA 2020 presidential election cycle that I first
heard the term Universal Basic Income, or the UBI. I was immediately skeptical. Looking at history, I realized that early communal societies embraced the concept of mutual guardianship and that the current welfare system is a form, albeit very inadequate, of this concept. But this was different. The idea was not based on need per se, but rather on the fundamental belief that every person has an inalienable right to an income. Yes, my skepticism grew out of my mistrust of those who wield power, political or corporate, whom I see as unwilling to concede anything unless they can manipulate it to their advantage and profit from it. But, in my head, the idea wouldn’t let go. Manipulation notwithstanding, the UBI could be the answer, or at least a major part of the answer, for the financial plight of the artist. Has any one of us not been through the discussion with parents, spouses, friends, teachers, etc., who, to be fair, generally have our best interests at heart, about the inevitable monetary struggles of making the creative arts a career choice? “Be reasonable! Do you really believe you’ll be one of the few who make it? Lots of talented people are overlooked.”
Absolutely true and absolutely scandalous.
Certainly, I do see the rub in its implementation - the how to define and identify an artist,
what criteria make someone eligible for the title of artist and at which point in their development, and who decides who meets the criteria - are questions to be wrestled with. Moreover, is there a minimum scale of output? And in what time period? What role does popularity play? Should it play a role at all? Indeed, can the authenticity of artistry be defined in bureaucratic terms? In actuality, no. In my studies, we defined artistry as a cluster, a sphere containing the elements of intention, skill, authenticity, originality, a clarity of sentiment and spirituality, measured out and juxtaposed by each individual artist as a recipe for creativity.
The authentic voice of the artist, regardless of creative channel – words, colors, sounds, motion, kinesics– lives in the spirit of humankind. It can veer the course of popular opinion and reasoning. This voice, when it is true and honest, motivates and inspires, it can change apathy to zeal, and transform hesitancy to resolve. It’s business is illumination and reflection, holding a mirror up for the community from which it springs, magnifying disregarded details held in secret or misapprehension, questioning the “what is” and pondering the “what if”s. These are intangibles and must remain so. Trying to put them into measurable forms will do a disservice not only to the realm of the arts, but to all the potential artists whose creative instincts are just waking up.
Hence, the UBI. You can’t do any of this if you’re hungry or wondering if you’ll be kicked out
of your house at some point or simply fighting with someone you love, about money. Though artistic concepts don’t fit bureaucratic forms, our needs are as concrete as anyone else’s. Even so, this search for definition is not a job for bankers, treasury committees, corporate moguls, business people, administrators or politicians. We, who embrace intangibles must embrace this challenge and be given the dominion to do so. We who understand that creativity needs space, trust, contemplation and freedom must determine our community. And maybe we will be aware enough not to make committees that create new elites, but we will open our gates to the creative traveler who says, “I am an artist.” And it will be enough to say, “Then come in and join us.” And we will live and work, content in mutual guardianship.
ALSO ON THIS TOPIC: Rutger Bregman - Utopia for Realists and how we can get there