When I shared an article I'd recently written with my creative cluster, one person responded that it was a strong argument for Universal Basic Income (UBI).
I was horrified. It might have looked similar on the surface, but actually what I was arguing was different.
The argument was for a capitalist model of art funding, one in which the artist's process is viewed as an asset. That asset is something in which a person or entity can invest; a one-to-one, or person-to-person investment.
Right now, funding is focused on objects that are the result of art. This is because things are considered art. In fact, things are the outcomes of art.
Art is hidden. Making art is an invisible process, one that Julia Cameron describes as a divine one. At this point in my artistic career, having run through Cameron's The Artist's Way recovery program twice, I finally understand what she means. It rubs up against every prickly little feeling I have about what 'God' might mean or be, but there is no other way to describe the process of art. Ideas just come to you: From where? Putting the pen to paper and allowing art to occur makes the pen move and flow without conscious intervention: Who moves the pen? It's God. (Or 'source', or 'universe', or 'energy' if your vision of God is a traumatic, dogma-based one that is unhelpful, as many people's is.) It's unsurprising, therefore, that so many successful artists publicly announce that their success is God's.
In any case, the point I was making in the article is that if you have a centralised source of funding - which is what UBI is - it can be simply taken away if you don't comply with whatever the government of the day is asking you to do. We saw this in spades during the 'rona.
In contrast, an investment model asks an investor to find an artist whose work resonates with them. To meet with an artist, to discover their process. To negotiate a means of making that process visible to them. To negotiate an investment balance. The byproduct - the object of the art - is not the point of the investment, though the investment in the process will result in those objects.
Art is in the journals, the daily pages, the doodles. The experimentation, the work. By the time an artist has given shape to a final thing (a tour, exhibition, album, painting, book, screenplay, film...), the art has moved on. An artist will often celebrate that thing, and then immediately move on.
Because the process is art.
The outcome is not.
Therefore, an investor is required to rethink the nature of the asset. Is the asset the cultural impact of art? Is it that an artist is empowered to continue engaging with the divinity that drives its daily work and its ongoing output? Is it simply the continuation of a work that is perspective-changing (as all art is inevitably)?
The investment model I proposed suggests that the engagement isn't a pattern of ownership.
It isn't that an investor owns an artist. Or can direct the work (for that is simply a commission). It is a mutual exploration: The investor's money supports a freedom to explore. In return, the artist expands the investor's perceptions of the world. The engagement changes both of them.
Now, am I a model for this proposal? No. Not yet.
Can I prove that it works? No.
Is it something I am even doing right now? No. Though once I open the door to the first step, I'll be on my way.
Therefore, if you happen to know any investors (or perhaps you are one yourself) who'd be willing to trial such a program, reply and let me know. Or read the article (linked below) and share the idea, at the very least.
The point is to get away from centralisation and government ownership. It's dangerous. Those who believe that socialism is the way forward can't see that all it does is promote slavery.
This is an underlying theme of an essay I'm writing at the moment. That essay argues that there is a weapon of such immensity, such huge expense, whose wielding is hidden in plain sight, that no citizen is capable of defending itself against it.
But to read that essay, you'd need to be a subscriber to my newest experiment. That's titled The Quarterly Correspondent.
The Correspondent has emerged from my artistic practice, in which I am being urged to go offline.
I've been pushed that way for years, and have resisted it over and over again. How, I reason, does one retain visibility if one is not online and not marketing online?
The answer is that email is not the same as "online", and letters are more effective marketing.
But it still makes me quiver in my boots.
The very prospect terrifies me. I've drunk the coolaid, as we all have. I have felt the benefits of the internet-driven world ever since I was first online at 14 (and I'm now 43). But what I am not is idealistic about its possibilities. I am, however, very clear about the direction of the online world and it's not one in which I would like to be a part.
Cryptic, I know. You'll have to chuck in some coins to the Correspondent for the detail. In some ways, it backs up the argument I made in Demonic Possession is Viral: Infection of the masses (which you can get here), albeit that argument being through a Christian lens.
At some point I'll talk to you about things like ChatGPT and how it is simply a tool for reinforcing The Current Thing. But that's for another day.
Right now, I'd like you to ponder the notion of investing in artists.
Read the article (linked below), and see if you agree.
You probably don't. Most people don't agree with my ideas as I have them, and never have.
As my mum said to me once:
'Your ideas have always been about 30 years ahead of their time.'
These days, I'm more inclined to accept that they're not really my ideas. My hands simply write them.