File puptcrit/puptcrit.0904, message 429


Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2009 16:56:06 -0700
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Money does NOT corrupt Art


>Here I'm hoping to start the debate about money (and abundance) again.
>This time, the aspect I want us to tackle is the belief that money corrupts
>art.
>Please, tells us what you think, and please-please, give us your real-life
>examples.

Well, actually, I think that's not a very active cultural meme any 
more.  It hangs around and belches now and then, but few pay it any 
attention.  But anyway, a couple of personal thoughts:

1.  If I had money, I'd be doing the same work I am now, but I'd hire 
assistance.

2.  I've done things on commission, e.g. for a science museum, and I 
made some some decent money, had a chance to explore interesting 
territory, got a lot of appreciation.  I enjoyed that, but it had no 
effect on the work that I feel compelled to do.  It was an affair, 
not a marriage.

3.  The way money corrupts art:  someone taking a song people love 
and making it into a commercial.  Art can't be corrupted till it 
exists.  The question is whether the artist can be corrupted.

4.  "Corrupted" I guess means failing to do some greater work you 
want to do and are capable of.  Could Elvis have been a greater 
musical performer if his manager hadn't pushed him into those cheesy 
movies?  Would F. Scott Fitzgerald have written better novels if he 
hadn't gone to Hollywood?  Who knows?  They did what they did, and 
they chose to do it, and maybe that's what was in them to do.

5.  I spoke yesterday to a painter who's feeling the financial pinch 
pretty severely, and her gallery had told her she'd sell better if 
her paintings were brighter, more upbeat.  So now she has a show 
upcoming and is having a hell of a time finishing a couple of things 
because she can't just automatically turn on "Upbeat" but at the same 
time she can't dismiss the marketability thing from her head.  That's 
sorta corruption without compensation.

6.  We built resident theatre operations in Milwaukee, then in 
Lancaster, PA, then in Philadelphia, and pulled out of each of them 
after 5 years, 15 years, and 7 years respectively.  We left each of 
these when it became clear that, for one reason or another, it was no 
longer the right circumstance for our work as it evolved.  The 
sacrifice wasn't so much the money as the stability and the 
resources.  I don't see any sort of inherent virtue in these 
decisions, and they certainly weren't wise career moves, but I 
wouldn't have been effective any longer if I hadn't made them.

7.  We (Elizabeth & I) made a fair bit of money on a couple of plays 
we wrote that were pretty depressing, and supported ourselves for 
nearly 9 years touring a piece that was probably the ugliest play 
I've ever even thought of writing.  Our absolute sure-fire comedies 
went nowhere beyond their first productions.

8.  You'll be swayed by whatever you're most hungry for.  Some people 
create *to* the market - and that's true whether it's mainstream or 
"cutting-edge," frivolous or portentious - and some people just 
happen to be instinctively attuned to the next big thing.  I envy 
them, because if it's skilled work it'll have an audience, 
recognition, all that.  I don't have that sense of smell, and I don't 
avoid success in order to stay pure: I just do the work I have a 
calling to do, am able to do, and then try to make it seen.

Peace & joy-
Conrad B.




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