The theme this month is why we should pay for our art? When I talk about art I do so with the sense that art is a skill, some thing that you do well. Payment is the most basic of principals; it grounds us to reality and what it is to be human. However in these times of invisible electronic money, we lose touch of our accounts and possibly we lose touch of reality?
I have worked in the public sector for 10 years, receiving a monthly pay packet invisibly from a boss who never touched that money, but saw it as a figure on a screen or in a bid for funding. A figure that represented my worth to society, a figure that was based on my age, what Uni course I did, how many years I had been with that department, to a certain extent my gender, and socio economic standing; but mainly how arsey I was to push for a wage increase. In most of the jobs I worked, my skills, talent, passion and aptitude to work were not used to determine my wage. There were people sitting at desks picking there noses, whilst I ran my self ragged trying in vain to help people. Invariably the nose pickers were getting paid 2, 3 or maybe 4 times more than me.
One day I was sat on an acupuncturists chair being pinned to relieve me from massive migraines, intense neck and jaw pain (from grinding my teeth) and many other symptoms and I realised that my body could not carry on; That I had lost touch with reality and I needed to get back to what made me happy.
When I got home I made some bread and then I made a BIG pot of stew, I sat and flicked through old sketch books and realised that all my work was invisible. Even my pay was invisible. The only product of my work was a stonking hangover on Saturday morning and the migraines in the week.
What did I do with that invisible money? I spent it on migralief (money to a massive drugs company), Gordon’s gin (another big company), Sainsbury’s ready meals (another big company) and acupuncture (ok I’m happy that this was a local company).
I was trying to help people by destroying myself and giving most of my money to companies who essentially destroy the planet and the local community.
I now work for myself. I bike to the local butchers and chat in the queue, I potter to the local greengrocers and health food shop, I have very little money but the money I have I invest wisely, not in ISA’s or high interest savings accounts, but in my local shops. I scrape by, but I enjoy scraping by. When I cook for others I invest all my passion and skills, that have been passed down to me from my mum, dad, both of my Grandparents, from butcher to baker from landlord to artist in the production of my food. Happily people want to invest in me, and the more they invest in me the more I will invest in my community.
It is important to invest in artists of all kinds; they are the people that make our community work and our community is our future. Ok you can get organic butter cheaper from Sainsbury’s but what are they doing for our community? Ok they do provide jobs and a collection box or two, but do they connect with you, advise you, invest and inform you, with real visceral information? Do they look at you and say “Hi Beth how’s business? What have you got on this week?” Can a narrative of their products be presented personally face to face by the producer? Can real trust be conveyed? Although it some times costs more to invest in local crafts people essentially when you know you’re investing in more than a product. Our future depends on investment and recognition of the passion and skill in our community. So what I am saying in a long winded slightly ranty way, is like all good hippies this valentine’s day Spread the love invest in real people.
Article by Beth (Food) / 14th February 2012