The Art Worker’s Party

So I was at the launch party for the Tribeca Theater Festival last night where I ran into many of the usual suspects of downtown theater. I mentioned “Cocktails with Culturebot” in conversation and how it was for “artists, art workers and aficionados alike.” They seized upon this term Art Worker and asked me what I meant.

Well, it’s my small attempt to recontextualize what we do. Because the fact is that people who make art work hard. There’s always been overlap between artists and administrators and funders and all that. It’s actually a little dangerous because the world can become so insular. But at the same time, we often work under outmoded 19th-century notions of the Artist Who Must Be Pure who says, “Oh I never think about money/advertising/production/etc. I must be free to create!” And that’s just a bunch of bunk. Not only does it breed an unproductive attitude in artists, but it perpetuates the image of the artist as an incompetent, ineffectual individual who is disengaged from the business of living.

Making Art – especially live performance – whether you are an administrator or a performer or anything else, is hard work. And we all know that it’s never going to be about the money – there’s just never enough to go around. And in our increasingly Republican country it’s harder than ever to get people to understand the value of the arts, since you can’t make money off of it and you can’t kill people with it or take their oil. But we, as Art Workers, need to be valued and we need to value what we do, not just for the creative aspect but for the actual WORK of it.

I regularly see people making art or running theaters or doing a million other things for virtually no money with no resources on the force of sheer will and hard work. It would take the corporate world untold amounts of money – and human resources – to pull of the things we do. So there you have it.

Art Workers of the World Unite!

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