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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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