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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Laura Axelrod on Money and the Arts

Despite the unnecessarily exasperated tone of the post, I think this is an excellent point.

The fact of the matter is, some of the most untouchable financial institutions in the country are in serious jeopardy. Lehman is filing for bankruptcy. Merrill Lynch is being sold to Bank of America. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are being taken over by the government. AIG is seeking a loan from the Federal Reserve.

How is this going to affect the arts? Here's some potential problems I can see. But it's something we should all be talking about.

One quick example is your day job. If you've got one, you're probably wondering how this will affect you. I know mine has to do with planned giving and investments. Which means we're directly affected by the markets. I'm also vested in our retirement plan, and that's, of course, invested.

I've got friends employed by hedge funds and other financial institutions. I'm sure they're reading the papers.

But even if you don't work directly in a market driven field, the ripple affect will hit you. When the middle class has less free income, restaurants suffer, retail suffers, the prices at the pump and at the grocery store will go up. Thousands are going to lose their jobs.

All this is happening as arts organizations struggle for a tiny piece of a tinier pie.

If you're an artist in NYC, you know how carefully you need to live in order to keep afloat here. But artists outside of NYC are likely in the housing market and drive more often. I'm sure they're not having an easy time of it.

So... what are you fearing and seeing as the economic staggers? How will it affect the arts? And what can we do about it?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. I would take issue with the "unnecessarily exasperated" tone note, however.

The "non-metro" places in this country have been hit hard by high gas prices, foreclosures and layoffs. I am well aware that, up until the Wall Street problems, I would not be feeling the effects of our economy if I was living in NYC.

My exasperation comes from the fact that I've been talking about this for a while, and people both in the net and meat worlds, have shrugged their shoulders and yawned... It seems that if they haven't been hit with it personally, then it doesn't seem to matter.

I think as artists it is our job to take a look at the world around us and check out what's going on. The economy is a HUGE story that the arts have refused to embrace. The implications are enormous, both on a personal and societal level. And it floors me that very few in the arts understand that.

Anonymous said...

I think one can understand what GW Bush called "Wall St. got drunk - we got the hangover"; but not be wrong in not wanting to make it part of their artistic canon.

I think we all get it, but markets go up and down, cyclically, and I'm more interested in creating work that investigates something a bit more longlasting, not to say universal.

But more importantly, even Greenspan talks about the importance of these times and how some companies should go out of business - clears out the deadwood and in the next cycle opens up room for new blood and innovation.

This might not be such a bad thing for the indie theater (we thrive when things are worst). We have some companies with cozy city-spawned real estate deals that maybe should find that their time is up. If we got rid of some of the same-old doing more of the same-old, it might open up room for the next generation to get foothold and get us to the next, new & better theater scene.

I see some silverlinings, but I'm just getting too old to hyperventilate artistically everytime the greedy broker-kids screw up the financial sector again.

RVCBard said...

If I had to pay rent, living in Richmond, Virginia would be more expensive than living in NYC.

I'm. Not. Kidding.

And there's the fact that the job market is sluggish and people act like they have all the time in the world to get jobs that would actually be worth the gas they use to get to work.

So . . . I moved.

Anonymous said...

I posted a few thoughts on art and the economy on my blog. Link is here: