Friday, September 25, 2009

Waste? Not

Yesterday, I spoke at the Orange County FL Commission meeting in defense of the arts funding here in the county. It's a tough time for all the arts. Money is hard to find in private and public donations.

Our new Orange County Medical Examiners building is currently being completed. It replaces the cramped and obsolete facility near my downtown neighborhood. Artwork was budgeted for the building and an artist was chosen from 150 that applied for the commission. More background on this is in my most previous post.

Since last week the art expenditure was omitted from the budget in hopes that donated art or loaned art could be found. One commissioner termed the money set aside to be a waste of taxpayer dollars. I find that insulting since as a gallery represented painter, I don't consider what I create "waste". And I doubt the chosen artist feels that way either. I wanted to know why, if an artist or collector is asked to donate for the building, why isn't the carpet contractor or the landscaper.

This has really struck a nerve with me since throughout my career I have listened to the argument that donating work for publicity or public exposure will bring later sales. I donate if it's a cause I believe in or it is for someone who needs the benefits of that art worse than I.

It's time professional artists are treated with the same regard as any other professional when it comes to compensation. Sometimes you have to say "show me the money".

1 comment:

  1. Amen! I have had similar feelings many times. It never ceases to amaze me how many professional buildings have multi-million dollar budgets for everything from the toilets to the type of stones they use for the landscaping, but the art budget is often considered the least important. As an artist that has work in our town's hospital I can testify to how important original art work is. Many times I have been written to or told that one of my paintings actually helped someone get through a difficult time, while their loved one was in the hospital. Tell me, has the carpet, or even the architectural plan of building ever helped people in such ways?

    BTW, I love your work, and I don't who was chosen for the project, but I personally can't imagine work that would be much better suited for the interior of a medical building or any space that needs a calming element.