Friday, July 6, 2012

How about Super PACs for artists?

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Where are the Medicis of the world when we really need them?
What seems to be called for, in our increasingly talent-packed city, are some very wealthy patrons of the arts, like those in Italy’s Renaissance cities. Florence, Rome and Venice, so endowed with brilliant visual and performing artists, seemed equally well endowed with wealthy popes, doges and prosperous merchant families willing, nay eager, to lavish commissions on the likes of sculptor and painter Michelangelo, as well as musicians, poets, playwrights.
How can we help support our own multi-talented Renaissance men and women (and kids)?
It’s not unusual to solicit government, corporations and wealthy individuals for grants and bequests for theaters and art centers, major motion pictures, scholarships, fellowships and artist-in-residency programs. New Mexico legislation allocates one percent of public building construction to be dedicated to public art projects.
Lately, however, it seems like everybody is seeking aid from everyone for just about everything.
Maybe it’s the tough economy, cutbacks in art funding, or an aging, over-extended and over-supplied population of arts aficionados. I know several persons (including myself) who have to plan rotating art exhibitions in their own homes and find room for the overflow in art closets and storage areas.
Whatever the reasons, many of us are being called upon to go the extra mile.
It is not enough to buy a painting, sculpture, CD or ticket.
We are being asked to finance works in progress and we’re sent to a multitude of websites to contribute to the funding of films both short and full-length, along with CDs, self-published books and assorted musical, literary, artistic and theatrical endeavors.
The upside is that some of the appeals are as creative as the artists who solicit help. I have been treated to lovely melodies, dramatic film trailers, multimedia extravaganzas and some requests so innovative that they are, themselves, masterpieces of performance art.
The best of the appeals offer value-added bonuses: signed works, sharing of insider insights and experiences, even, in the case of one my favorite local talents, a red enchilada dinner and an in-person performance in your own home.
The downside is that much talent is being wasted and artists are becoming exhausted as they feel forced to keep appealing to what has become a tapped market.
What to do, what to do?
We need artistic Super PACs. And the need seems to be so dire that we can’t wait to come up with anything new and specific on the PAC (Poor Artists Competing? Positive Artistic Cooperation?) front.
Nope. Let’s just take over those existing Super PACs.
I wish we could limit all political discourse to live debates and media interviews, and agree to throw all those millions and billions being spent on attack ads into, say, infrastucture, education, health care and lowering the national debt.
But let’s aim for more modest goals, for now.
Let’s start with the presidential election PACs and require that at least 70 percent of all expenditures be devoted to artistic projects.
Each funded artist or cultural organization would produce a work of art representing the cause or candidate supported by the PAC … and the more abstract and creative the better.
Instead of a full-tilt media blitz of vitriol, we could have city squares filled with noble statues, minstrels and mimes conveying their interpretations of wanna-be civic leaders. Instead of spin doctors and propaganda meisters, we could have filmmakers, poets and novelists offering idealistic visions of the future, and multimedia wizards who, as visionary Robert Kennedy once suggested, dream of things that never were, and ask, “Why not?”

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

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