Hello dear readers, today I am going to do something I don’t normally do — rant.Â I’ll apologize in advance because for about half of my readership, this will be preaching to the choir.Â And the other half probably didn’t even realize the church existed.Â But in the interest of bettering society through education, I’m going to talk about it here.Â (Mostly because outside of the pond fish, this is the most captive audience I’ve got)
This week I’ve received no less than eight requests for donations.Â (And it’s Wednesday.)Â This is a common occurrence for creative types — a stranger requests a donated piece of original artwork in order to auction it off at an event to raise money for an organization.Â Now I’m all about charity, and supporting causes that you believe in.Â What I am less about is targeted solicitation, especially from a population that is admittedly often least able to absorb the financial impact.
Some statistics I made up regarding donation requests:
99.9% come from organizations the artist has never heard ofÂ (margin of error: 0.1%)
100% offer the artists “exposure” in return (this is code for “you won’t get paid”)
40% of requests are pleasant but insistent, and will email 5 more times if you try to politely decline
30% make demands on what type of artwork you must donate (e.g. valued over $100)
0.01% actually allow the artist to attend the event
So here’s where it gets sticky… while I would love to contribute to world peace and bluejay clubs, my artwork is currently engaged in the arduous task of putting food on the table.Â It may be pasta rather than steak, but it feeds my offspring, and that is what is important.Â So each request is kinda like a neighbor who pops over and rummages through the fridge.Â I can politely explain, but too many neighbors and soon there’s no more mac & cheese, see?
There are two big misconceptions that are fairly common with requests such as these — one, that artists Genie-blink their work into existence (not so!), and two, that the artist can deduct the donation on their taxes.Â In reality, only materials can be deducted — kinda like giving away a new car in exchange for its scrap value. ouchies.Â Nevermind that this is little enticement because they’d get to deduct the materials anyway, and if they sell the piece, they get the deduction and the mac & cheese!Â (It should go without saying that nothing I write should never be used for tax advice. or cooking inspiration.)
All that said, I’ve participated in some lovely benefits.Â This past weekend was the Lake Erie Nature Science Center shindig (the one “Lunar Trajectory” was for).Â The art exhibit was only a small portion of an incredibly well-designed event, which also included a planetarium exhibit, auctioned donations (not artwork!), and boa constrictors and possums for the petting.Â And the artists were invited to attend the festivities, meaning that for the cost of a few hors d’oeuvres, the lovely LENSC coordinators got to parade us around and say things like “did you get to meet Chris?Â She’s an ARTIST!” See?Â Artists get to eat, people get to schmooze, monies are raised… win-win-win.
I was part of a lovely event last year as well, you may have seen this piece in my portfolio but not known the story behind it:
“Masquerade” was created for a benefit for a dance company.Â I was contacted by a friend and fellow artist who knew that I was very involved in the local dance community.Â The artists were asked to donate a piece for silent auction and in appreciation they got to attend the event, which included an lovely dinner and performance.Â Artists and patrons chatted and sipped wine together while they watched the show.
Now lest you think I am a jerk and only give willingly when bribed, I donate time and money frequently to causes I believe in.Â My only objection to donations for benefits is the disparity in the treatment of patrons versus artists.Â Both should be allowed to donate willingly, respected when they decline, and encouraged to participate equally.
Disagree? you know where to find me ;)
until next week,