Selling out or just paying the bills?

I became a producer because I saw too many talented people not being able to pay their bills AND do the artistic craft they love to do. I don’t know why I thought I could change that, but it is the primary motivation behind me being a producer.

This is why I was thrilled to attend the opening of the new show at the Park Shrek Gallery by Rob Becoskie entitled She Fell in Love with a Point. First, I must say that I loved this artist’s work. It was playful and meaningful, vibrant and deep, simple and complex. His titles were hysterical (e.g., The Gregarious Tea Cup, The Gunnysack is Implied).

What drew us to this event for the 5th Star Expo was the concept behind the gallery. John Park and Dan Shrek are dedicated to “find[ing] talented emerging artists and connect[ing] them buyers who are looking for original works of art". Now that’s a mission I can get behind.

I was struck at how well they priced the work. It still required an investment on the part of the art buyer. However, for $350 one could purchase a new piece of original art by an emerging artist that was ready to hang. Great for the buyer and great for the artist who wants to pay some bills and get their work into people’s hands.

So, why is it that I keep running into performers who don’t want to get paid? I often hear that they don’t do it for the money. That’s fine, but how are they paying their bills and what’s wrong with doing it for the money? I truly believe there is a way to balance artistic integrity with social responsibility with profitability. It’s all in how one approaches the work.

Of course, I mainly produce live performance at this stage in my career – a genre known for its slim profit margins. Lord knows, I have experienced my share of setting out to pay people and ending up owing them – not a great experience for either of us. I still believe it can work; it just takes some savvy and dedication.

As we continue to look for new models and approaches that help on strike the balance of integrity, responsibility, and profitability, I asked for your help. When you find promising or proven approaches, send them my way. Any producers, creators, performers, or investors interested in working with me to strike this balance, let me know. We are a company of artistic entrepreneurs that create deliberately liberating experiences. Paying one’s bills is certainly liberating.