Friday, December 2, 2011

What separates us from the animals....

A friend recently joked on Facebook that the arts separate us from the animals in that an animal wouldn't willingly select a life for themselves filled with starvation, uncertainty, and discomfort. It makes sense if you think about it and it's even funny up until the point when it's not.....

That said Verge is on its 2nd Kickstarter campaign with the first one being this time last year. I really struggled with whether to do Kickstarter again or try a different funding platform. Over the past year I've paid careful attention to folks' impressions of Kickstarter and am beginning to fear it may be jumping the shark. Hard to say though what with the fact that I'm down in the weeds most of the time.

Running it's course or no, fundraising of any flavor is HARD! Really, really, hard. Humans by their nature are bargain hunters myself included, probably to an unrealistic degree. The fact that I found a gorgeous calf length wool coat in new condition at a thrift store recently for $4 just reinforces my warped reality.

As all of this applies to arts and culture, however, there is a disconnect between what things cost and the quality of what we consume in the region. There is often a perception that art should be cheap or free and that artists through our inventiveness should just be able to magically will amazing things to happen. The truth of the matter is, it takes money. You gotta pay someone to maintain a space, keep it clean, install the art, buy the wine, serve the wine, send out announcements etcetera, not to mention the crazy concept that the artists themselves should receive something for creating the work we're consuming in the first place.

In the grand scheme of things, in my humble and biased opinion, the bang one gets for their buck with the arts is usually great. Our field is typically not one of the better paid, and yet.... and yet, we draw thousands of folks outta their homes every year to attend receptions, plays, musical performances, and films. Not bad for a group of people who are typically raising their own salaries while simultaneously trying to do their jobs.

There is a point to which one could make the argument that the arts are non-essential and so, in considering say safety net issues versus art giving, the choice is obvious or is it? Cities with thriving cultural centers tend to attract folks with money who like to do things. What's more all those shows and plays I mentioned bring folks out on the street in search of cocktails and food either before or after said events. The more the arts are supported the more capable we are of employing those who work in the arts as well further feeding money into the local economy. There is actual money in the arts, money that contributes to a healthier economy and community which in turn supports a range of conditions and issues. Besides, we can't live on bread alone right?

How does this all apply to Verge? Well, Verge houses 26 regional artists many of whom contribute work to area art institutions, teach workshops in the region, sit on arts committees and boards, and teach at our local colleges. Since relocating, Verge has taken in over 10 artists who have graduated from local grad programs at either CSUS or UC Davis providing a home for them amongst peers to support them in their work out of school. We have secured public commissions for some of our artists and provided a proofing ground for them to test out larger works before taking them on to major cities outside the region. Mind you these accomplishments have all occurred since our relocation while we've been in a very rough, very cold, transitional space. As I said before, even though we require a little money to get by, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this crew.

So please, as you see these solicitations whiz around asking for Support for Verge consider giving us a little dough. This money will help keep me, and my two colleagues going as we continue to expand our programming at Verge and improve the space. A little support goes a long way and makes the work involved in this sort of effort way, way, more doable.

As a treat for reading this entire ramble I give you Bruce Nauman Cruising To Drake On Tha Block as stolen from AFC who as usual is providing stellar Basel coverage this week. Can.... Not... Get... Enough....


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