The artist, writer, mover, painter, performer, feels the spark, itch, grind, flutter: and with skill, glee, frustration, and effort, makes the piece, whatever the art may be.
Then s/he offers it, sells it, gives it, presents it to the world, hoping and strategizing and working to help it find its way into the hands and eyes and minds of those to whom it will speak.
It’s always been this way for the makers, it always will be. The trick is to stay alive, fed, housed, while you do it.
Which is where, for some artists, the institutional process comes in: the granting process: the foundation, the application, the anguished wait. “Oh, god, I hope I get that grant from the [insert your own favorite org here]! Because otherwise I can’t [write the book/create the dance/shoot the film].”
There are always thinkpieces and books aplenty – recently, Michael Kaiser’s CURTAINS? and Scott Timberg’s CULTURE CRASH (no, no links) – seeming to posit that art cannot survive without that institutional grant of support. Because otherwise the market will take over, and only the very commercial and the very high end (read: deep-pocketed donor supported) will exist.
In lieu of a saucy rebuttal (are some granting organizations more concerned with keeping their own lights on than advancing the cause of art? are all commerical funders taboo?), I suggest a reading (or rereading) of Lewis Hyde’s THE GIFT.
And I remind all artists of every discipline to remember who actually sharpens your pencil, primes your muscles, opens your eyes: because that’s where art begins and is born and comes to life. Wherever you get your funding to keep the ball rolling is fair game: just remember, every second, every step, that money doesn’t make the art. You do. Get busy.
[Photo of me reminding you: Rick Lieder.]