Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why are artists poor?

Posted from Decentre book project:

Why are artists poor? is the title of a new book by Hans Abbing. You won't find simple answers in it but Abbing does a nice job of describing the intricacies of the art milieu and the many complicated reasons we keep on keeping on, e.g.:

Table 4.
Aspects Contributing to the Exceptional Nature of the Economy of the Arts

1. The valuation of art products tends to be asymmetric; one group looks up to the high art of the other group, while the latter looks down on the low art of the former. (Chapter 1)

2. In the arts: (1) the economy is denied; (2) it is profitable to be non-commercial; (3) commercial activities are veiled. (Chapter 2)

3. Art and artists have an exceptionally high status. (Chapter 1)

4. Artists overlook or deny their orientation towards rewards. (Chapter 4)

5. Top incomes in the arts are extremely high; higher than in other professions. (Chapter 5)

6. The large majority of artists earn less than other professionals do. Hourly income is low or even negative. In the modern welfare state, this is truly exceptional. (Chapter 5)

7. Despite these low incomes, an unusually high number of youngsters still want to become artists. The arts are extremely attractive. (Chapter 5)

8. Beginning artists face far more uncertainty than the average beginning professionals. (Chapter 5)

9. Money represents a constraint rather than a goal for many artists. (Chapter 4)

10. Artists are (more than others) intrinsically motivated. (Chapter 4)

11. Artists are (more than others) oriented towards non-monetary rewards. (Chapter 5)

12. Artists are (more than others) inclined to taking risks. (Chapter 5)

13. Artists are unusually ill-informed. (Chapter 5)

14. A combination of myths reproduces misinformation about the arts. (Chapter 5)

15. Artists more often come from well-to-do families than other professionals. (This is even more exceptional because usually the parents of ‘poor’ people are also poor.) (Chapter 6)

16. Poverty is built into the arts. Measures to relieve poverty do not work or are counterproductive. (Chapter 6)

17. The arts are characterized by an exceptional high degree of internal subsidization. By using non-artistic income artists make up the losses they incur in the arts. (Chapter 6)

18. The gift sphere in the arts is large; subsidies and donations comprise an unusually large portion of income. (Chapter 2 and 8)

19. Unlike other professions, the arts do not have a protected body of certified knowledge. Anybody can access it. (Chapter 11)

20. Unlike other professions, there is no formal control of numbers in the arts. Anybody can pursue an arts career regardless of their qualifications. (Chapter 11)

21. Many informal barriers exist in the arts. (Chapter 11)

ISBN 978-9-0535656-50-5
€ 25,90
http://www.aup.nl/do.php?a=show_visitor … 0535656505
Robert Labossiere, Managing Editor, YYZBOOKS

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