It's the third week of the new year and yesterday I opened my third email asking for a donation of my art for a fundraiser. That means, if I keep at this pace, I should expect 49 more emails in the coming year.
Recently, a young artist in Bend was telling me, very excitedly, that his performance troupe had been hired for a corporate holiday party, and how awesome he thought that was. I agreed, but then again, I've gone to corporate parties where MC Hammer was the entertainment, so I think it should be expected. His face lit up when he talked about it—the same light you see in an artist's face when they're inspired. This time, he was inspired by someone respecting his craft and the work he and his troupe have put into perfecting it.
That feeling is the exact opposite feeling artists get when receiving an email that reads something like this: "We saw your work and were so impressed by it, we would love for you to give it to us so we can use it to make money for our cause. It would be great exposure for you." First, I'm not sure I need exposure, because, well, you found me.
Secondly, artists already give in huge ways. Artists make the posters for the fundraisers for free, or in exchange for a ticket. Artists make the logos for noprofits at a reduced cost or for free in exchange for tax credits. We design the t-shirts for the causes that we believe in and that we volunteer our time for. Artists often create community art projects that we joyfully give for you to participate in and engage with, that help to put language to issues we're working on in this community and beyond.
There is an old adage that says, "It never hurts to ask." I strongly disagree with this. It hurts artists to be asked, again and again, to give more and more and more. The asking is defeating and deflating—a constant reminder that people don't know how to engage or appreciate what artists already do. And I know that's not the intention, so let's just do away with this whole game in 2018.
To help with this issue that artists seem to endlessly face, I've made a flow chart. It's not that artists don't want to give to our community. The thing is, we already do. A lot.
One more question: Does your fundraiser help the arts and artists in this town? Does it provide opportunities for artists or help to create audiences for us to better be seen and heard? Does it make artists' existence here, and their role in this community, stronger and better? If the answer is yes, hit me up. I got some stuff for you.