Someone once famously said that art is not a career choice; one simply possesses the compulsion to express their emotions and ideas through the artistic channels, and the rest is happenstance. Society has not been typically kind to artists, often pressing them into service to erect monuments to despots and conquerors, entertain the wealthy, or to help sell their agendas.
Despite these cruelties artists have managed to put a face on culture and contribute to a human history that transcends raw statistical data or historical timelines. Art has also often been the therapy of the oppressed, the contemplative, the visionary, but always artists have had to come to grips with one harsh reality: art often means poverty.
There are few concepts as universal as the “starving artist”. This idea that artistry must come at the price of financial stability has long loomed over society. Even today many households encourage their children to draw, paint, sculpt, but only up to a certain age. Many a parent has shuddered at the prospect of their offspring pursuing a career in the arts. It has long been deemed equivalent to taking a vow of poverty.
The major problem with this outlook is that it is almost entirely a heinous fabrication of the status quo; a convenient lie that guarantees that creative, imaginative people will remain far from the reigns of power and decision making. Imagine for a moment what would happen if the Davincis and the Bob Dylans of the world had access to the upper-echelons of power? It is a concept that industrialists, power mongers and businessmen cannot abide.
New independent art is more than an accidental evolution of the internet and affordable technologies, it is a fundamental questioning of this notion that artists cannot generate quality works as well as contribute economically to society. We have seen the rise of the artist-entrepreneur, a creature with ideas and imagination, but also strategic know-how and business acumen.
The opportunity is here to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with policy makers, leaders, and gain access to these avenues, hopefully with the ultimate goal of providing society with a much-needed infusion of compassion, consideration, and accountability.