Setting an Arts Budget

I’m getting to my Sunday blogging a little too late, so this will necessarily be short. When I was in Maui last week I really enjoyed checking out the local arts scene. They have a Friday night open gallery every week, with food and musicians playing at galleries along Front Street in Lahaina. In the Whaler’s Village there are several high-end arts and crafts shops as well (e.g., Martin & MacArthur; Totally Hawaiian Gift Gallery).

I was admiring some exquisitely glazed tiles in one shop and then balking at the price. But after leaving and thinking it over, I thought to myself that I should treat the arts like I treat other charitable contributions or uses of disposable income.  I make regular contributions to a variety of causes, and those are budgeted out for the year. Why not do the same with arts?  A single tile for $150 may seem extravagant, but what if I budgeted, say, $500 for good art for the year?  I certainly believe in supporting individual artists – I’m glad such people exist and are able to make a living selling their art. But of course, they can only make a living if people actually buy it, and this can’t be the sole responsibility of “rich people.”

(Incidentally, it was eye-opening to come across a blog discussion among professional furniture makers about how they make ends meet. The consensus seemed to be “find wealthy clients.” Sad that most middle class families can’t or won’t afford well-crafted, timelessly designed furniture that could last for generations).

That’s my thought for the night – to walk the walk and actually commit to purchasing art I like that might seem “expensive” on the surface, but in the long run would make both me and the artist happy.

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