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Tiara Shafiq

Creatrix of Awesome, The Merch Girl

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How do we encourage society to see the value of arts and creativity outside the context of business or industry?

So some context:
1. I was trying to explain the concept of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo to my dad, including a project I have on there to raise funds for an arts residency I'm participating in soon. My Dad, as businessman-like as you can get, could not fathom why *anyone* would contribute money to a project that wasn't for charity/saving-the-world or that didn't pay him financial dividends.

2. My boyfriend and I often have debates on copyright and IP law (we mostly agree but come from different perspectives). I noted that most discussions tend to overemphasise changing the laws but none of that energy is spent on encouraging people to think of creative work as something of value.

3. While fundraising for said arts residency above (an international trip that is mostly out-of-pocket), some people have asked me why I'd want people to pay for my "vacation".

4. My area, Brisbane, was recently hit by devastating floods. The Brisbane City Council significantly slashed arts and cultural funding, claiming that they needed the money for flood relief. Grants decimated and people lost jobs.

As an emerging performance artist I find it really difficult to get people who aren't already arts-savvy to understand the value of creative work that isn't immediately world-saving or profit-generating. It's even harder as a cultural minority because then I have to work extra-hard to be considered relevant amongst the art set, who feel that art by cultural minorities are only valid if they're super-sanitised or super-exotified.

How do I quantify value in an income statement from "people are inspired to express themselves too"? How do I justify asking for money for doing work that is mainly for my own therapy and healing by expression - even though projects like MSF were also started originally for selfish reasons (the founder got fed up of his practice)?

It costs money to create & live but society feels that artists should work for free love. Why?

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  • Apr 6 2011: Because we're not doing anything "serious". Maybe we're not taken seriously because we don't produce anything with immediate, tangible results that can be understood by all. Our society is still too focused on results.
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      Apr 8 2011: Precisely. People just seem to want the result yet do little to appreciate, motivate or support the process. Not a good habit.
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    Apr 3 2011: Sorry Tiara, I misunderstood your question, thats why I deleted my post. From the third point you made, it sounds like people immediately get the impression that you are just doing what you do to go on vacation. To be honest, I haven't really seen such behavior when it comes to art, creativity, and so on during my travels. I got people who didn't care enough and those who did, but not people who accused artists. Those who do need to stop listening to most artists out there.

    It's obvious that money is required to do nearly anything so just coming out with "Why should I fund your vacation" is inane. Hard work needs to be appreciated. You put in time and effort into what you do and if people like it the least they can do is pay a little to get it and whats wrong if you go on vacation afterwards? You earned it if they bought it and appreciated your work. Why does it have to be free when almost nothing in this world is? And who said that art and music isn't helping the world? It might be two of the few things that keep people from totally giving up on a world that has become dangerously materialistic and careless. And the people who talk that way need to consider that people who dedicate their artistic abilities to changing the world don't make a lot of money either! So most of the arguments you mentioned people bringing up is illogical to me, along with the force-to-pay argument posted by Roberto.

    As my previous post stated, I think you need to find like-minded people who are also creative and artistic. Unity is one of the answers to your and all our problems I think, if not the only answer. Best of luck.
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    Apr 2 2011: It is not reasonable take other people´s money by force to pay artwork or anything else. Fund-raising based on free of choice is OK.
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      Apr 3 2011: What do you mean "by force"? Buying art is free choice - you can buy it, or you don't. Cultural and art development is a part of national and community development and so is a valid reason for taxes. Which artists are *forcing* you to give them money?
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        Apr 5 2011: Seems to me that you have not understood what I stated. When government subsidises artists or pays for their work directly with money collected from individuals through the tax system, this is using money taken by force to pay for artwork. In several countries, government uses his power to collect taxes and uses this money to praise artists to get support from the public opinion. I am an art lover and I invest a lot in art. Also, I one of my sons is a talent artist and I am very proud of it.
        • Apr 7 2011: It is a strange notion that we should not be forced to pay for anything we don't want to. How, then, would the world work? Many of the things I purchase, for instance, force me to pay for advertising: I don't want to pay for this advertising, but I am forced to pay for it anyway. Other things I purchase force me to pay for transport: I would be quite happy to purchase the same item made on the spot, but I have to pay for transport anyway because the item is not offered "made on the spot". I am forced to pay for the corn that feeds cattle, even though I rarely eat meat and even more rarely eat red meat. I am forced to pay for the education of many people who are likely to fail in life because they can't pay for their own basic needs. I am forced to pay for a stable environment for people to do business in, even if I think their business is unethical.

          I am "forced" to pay for these things, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't - because ultimately the fact that I pay for these things means I also pay for things I really need, and share the cost of that so that my money can have better value: i.e. better outcome for its cost. People who live without military protection, rule of law, communication, or education clearly have poorer quality of life.

          Of course, there are regions of the world with -true- economic freedom. We call them failed states, but these are places where you could operate in anonymity while providing for yourself solely out of whatever resources you could scrounge together on your own. To me this is not a viable price for the right to "only pay for what I want" but it is an option for any who desire to work in such a system.