This past Saturday night I attended the kick-off campaign meeting of the newly-formed Gahanna Area Arts Council,
As a months-long prelude to the kick-off meeting, the charter members of the Gahanna Area Arts Council have been floating the question around town, "What is Art?" in the form of a door-to-door campaign, led by a couple of intrepid GAAC members knocking on doors and posing the question to residents,
and a "What is Art?" event during which residents could express their answer with paint and poster.
Danged if any of us could come up with much of a coherent answer. We, the practitioners of art, were stumped to define it.
Christian then asked, "Can anyone say what art isn't?"
Ah, to that question I immediately knew the answer, and so I raised my hand and was offered the the microphone, into which I said:
"What art isn't? What art isn't? Generally speaking, it isn't financially rewarding."
My answer was met with laughter and much applause, even though we all knew my answer was a sad truth.
Perhaps it was ourselves the members of the audience were applauding, because despite the financial disincentive of being a creative, we create anyway.
We create, even when our art doesn't define us to the rest of the world, which rather defines us by the jobs we do to subsidize our art: to the rest of the world we're teachers, restaurant workers, baristas, bar tenders, technicians, doctors, lawyers, barbers, engineers, entrepreneurs. If we are fortunate enough to be defined by the world as an artist, a musician, a writer, or any category of creative, chances are we have spouses whose incomes subsidize ours. Or we have family members who help support us financially in the practice of our art.
And it's not just that a number of us make little, no, or, in any case, insufficient income from the creation and selling of our art; it's that some of us outspend whatever we earn in promoting and marketing our art.
I even spend money promoting those pieces of word art that I create with the intention of giving them away for free. Because these are pieces I want to give away for free.
Though that remark was kindly intended as a show of support and I shouldn't have taken umbrage, I took umbrage anyway. Because my writing is not my hobby.
Writing is how I wish to earn a living, though it's unlikely that this wish will ever come true.
But in the end it doesn't really matter. We creatives will find the means to continue to create. We have to.