For the first time, I am having serious doubts about the survival of art in Richmond, non-profit art, and in particular, art6, my home base.
In the face of economic downturn, and it's not over yet, the money people have to spend is shrinking, the time, the energy that we can devote to such small endeavors is beginning to chafe at all of us. We struggle to pay our personal bills, forget the rent and utilities at public spaces.
Where do we go to spend our entertainment dollars? First Fridays are not as popular as they were when we were having 4,000-5,000 visitors- we now have more like 2500 on a given night, most of those beer swilling students, not folks who will purchase a piece of art. The meetings for the governing groups occur on weekday mornings most of the time, fine for restaurant owners and for-profit galleries with paid staff. Where does that leave the all-volunteer, artist-run gallery?
Out in the cold, that's where. Everything we do is done by folks who have other job to support their art habits. We have families, we have obligations, we're tired at the end of the day, we're broke.
(There are those predators who will eke out a living, unwilling to think of anything but promoting themselves, they seem to crawl around the edges sucking money out of the system- they work for awhile, then move on, done with the big picture. It happens in poetry, too.)
In the meantime, the 'important' artist exhibits ridiculous work that is academic and (often) ugly and the rest of us walk by and shake our heads trying to figure out why in the world it matters- where is the heart of the work, or as we sometimes hear in a sermon- where am *I* in this?? Like some current poetry, it doesn't speak to anyone, it only rambles a self-centered inner monologue. Go to the galleries on First Friday- you'll know what I mean. The expensive art far outweighs the affordable- the ridiculous is heads up over what might fit in your house.
I can hear you saying- Go get Grants!! As if that's easy- it's very complicated, even torturous to assemble all the paperwork needed and it all has to be done just right- by volunteers- who are stretched this and aching with the effort of living and being artists themselves.
I'm tired of trying, of pushing, of begging people to come see, come buy, bring your children. It's easier to stay home and burrow, I guess.
I can't do that- I won't. I'm the fool who continues to drop the brick on my foot, hit my head with the hammer- I don't expect other people to clear the way- I'm a fucking saint-
no I'm not. But I won't let this go that easily- that's all I'm saying.
Join art6- help out, come join the fight with us. You get to work with crazy people like me.
To the 15 people who usually read my blog- thanks