As much as I know I’m a producer of culture, in most quantifiable, economic measures, I’m a consumer: for the studio, I buy art materials. To promote my art, I buy office supplies, web hosting services, pay utilities, postage. I’m paying off my education (for which I am a consumer of loans). Even in the non-profit sector, I contribute with studio rent or donations (which is turned into capital at auctions). And even when I receive grants, the funds mostly circulate through me to art stores, hardware stores, printers, service providers, consultants, and to those previously mentioned lenders, and so on.
The Fed’s Stimulus Package is premised on the hopes that recipients will spend their rebates. Liquidity is good, as shown by the Moniac (the Monetary National Income Automatic Computer), a device designed by economist Bill Phillips and re-created by artist Michael Stevenson.
Liquidity is good. But let’s start with solvency. Most artists I know are working as teachers, designers, installers or baristas. I’m pretty sure artists would love to have the confidence to finance new projects, buy health insurance, maybe go on vacation!
Artists assume more risks than others, and often live with lower returns on their investments. But the choice is pretty obvious between keeping the monetary flow going on principle, and paying off credit card debt, chipping away at student loans, or re-stocking that rainy day fund.
One side effect—positive or negative, depending—is that the cost of participating in art opportunities that pay in “exposure” might finally start outweighing the benefits.