Art and money

For a moment MPRNewsQ’s business and arts & culture collections both share a crossover feature front and center, The economy through the lens of British TV ads:

Peter Bigg runs the British Television Advertising Awards and he’ll introduce the program Friday night at the Walker. He said it’s been a tough year in Britain, as is plain to see when you switch on the telly.

This set me digging into the art, business, and the business of art pieces I’ve seen recently.


MinnEcon shares the example of a “loyalty bonus” for toughing out the recession at a performing arts center:

Like many organizations, the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids took a hit in the recession. So as the financial picture started to ease recently, leaders wanted to recognize those who kept the place going in the hardest times.

The result: six workers will receive up to $400 in what David Marty, President of Reif Arts Council described as a “loyalty bonus.”

Granted, any industry may consider a loyalty bonus, but I’m not sure bonuses are a regular occurrence in the art field.


From the Today’s Question archive:Does the price of a ticket keep you from attending classical music concerts? An excerpt from one reply points to the different costs for different performances:

“How come the issue of price always comes up as an issue in the arts (museums, classical music, etc.) but never when it comes to rock concerts, sporting events, video games etc?

Hearing and seeing the greatest works created by man is still the best bargain in town. It costs much more to watch Amy Winehouse throw up on stage, or buy a gaming console that lets you carjack or blow up aliens, or see over-the-hill boomer rockers strut around on stage like they’re still rebellious 20-year-olds instead of billionaires with prostate issues.”
Posted by John

Are the other event costs sustainable? How is attendance at Timberwolves’ games?


Finally, on State of the Arts Marianne Combs wrote about giving to the arts when people are hurt or hungry. One reply:

The arts are not a basic need for any one individual to live. But as a community, if the Twin Cities wish to retain their population of professionals, scientists, leaders,… the arts are mandatory.

The dollars spent to retain this crucial echelon of the economy have a multiplier effect, benefiting those in need more so than direct contributions. If all of the arts lovers left town we would lose the engines of our economy, and our tax base would be annihilated; leaving those in need with neither public nor private support. – Posted by Craig

Discussing the tension between quality-of-life and basic living needs isn’t new, but this perspective might be.

  • Joanna

    Although the economy is not doing well, I still have my job. So I’ve tried not to cut back on my charitable giving (which is modest enough) although my reflex is to hunker down and save. I continue to support some of the national and local organizations I always do, but this holiday season, I will be making donations to local organizations in lieu of gifts to family members–we all agreed to a “no gifts” policy, but I will take my gifts budget and put it toward donations. I do support art organizations locally because without them, winter would be cold and lonely.

  • Charlie Quimby

    “I’m not sure bonuses are a regular occurrence in the art field.”

    Of all the fields I’ve worked in and around, the arts field exacts one of the biggest loyalty discounts — a reverse bonus, if you will, to smart, talented and capable people.

    This is very different than the retention bonuses paid to keep Wall Street bankers around to unwind the rubble they created. It’s acknowledging that chronically underpaid employees have already stuck with the organization through tough times.


    Professor Anne Markusen studies the impact of arts institutions and artists on regional economies and has made observations similar to Craig’s.

    She says artists, perhaps even more than other professional classes, are mobile and not dependent on particular companies for employment. They choose where to live in response to a nurturing artistic and patron community, amenities and affordable cost of living.

    The connection Craig notes cuts both directions.

  • Julia Schrenkler, MPR

    @Joanna, that sounds like a great way to balance no gifts and support orgs.

    @Charlie you make _excellent_ points on both counts.