For the past six months I have been taking the money I would be paying in dues were I still doing so and instead directing it to artists and access to art-works.
I’m doing this as a conscious magical practice and to explore my current interest in material & immaterial economies. In this exercise, participating not just as a maker but as a patron and benefactor, albeit on a very very small scale.
I’m interested in feeling out how the give and receive happens socially, energetically, and materially to further the instances of art being made and experienced on an individual-to-individual level (moving attention on larger orgs and the related formal egregores to the periphery for this one).
The guidelines I initially set for myself were that the money shouldn’t be spent on something I’d already buy for myself (like a cd or tickets to an event) and can’t be something I already get for free to give away (like comps). It can simply be a donation to an arts organization, but that is less preferential to a donation that results in a specific individual or individuals’ benefit. The donation needs to result in someone besides myself enjoying some art or a project I’m not working on getting funded a little more, and the more the direct the line between cash leaving my hand and them enjoying/producing/continuing to be able to make art the better.
What it can be is either direct support or a gift of money or materials made every month at least equaling what I would be paying were I still paying dues elsewhere. And though donation of time does count for something, cold hard cash or materials of that value must leave my hands at some point in the exchange.
I have bought tickets to a theatrical production, donated to a fundraiser for a musician who needed instruments, given away my own work in the form of custom pieces, bought & gifted books and art supplies. Sometimes to total strangers. Mostly local, but not always.
This month I will just go literal and send $$ directly to an artist of my choosing (thanks to an essay I read recently by Amanda Fucking Palmer, via contentlove ). I’ll also be teaching some metal sawing technique to an enthused acquaintance who has been seriously bitten by the art bug.
Because I have plugged in in this way, making a contract of support as it were with Art with a Capital A in general, I feel literally invested in the whole of the artmaking sphere beyond my own little bubble of a practice and workday. And I’d swear that my own opportunities for making and getting my work out there have multiplied (or perhaps they’ve just become more obvious).
So far it’s been very satisfying and rewarding so I will probably continue it as a regular practice. I’d also encourage fellow artists on my flist to try this for a while as a regular discipline, say 6 months, and see what happens. Doesn’t have to be a large amount- maybe even $5. And feel free to swim far & wide outside your regular familiar media. See what happens.