We are living in strange times. I am contemplating the absurdity of a situation in which a nonprofit was denied funding not because of the project’s artistic merit (which was acknowledged) but because there were not enough people in attendance at the event (even though it was free of charge) and because the venue was “hard to find”.

Well, that’s food for thought. In face of the shrinking of the downtown scene, alternative spaces have to be found out of the rabbit’s ear so to speak, and venues that come without a rental fee are precious these days, although they may not offer the best facilities. It is currently very difficult to get people to go out – a lot of my friends have stopped going to events because even if the event itself is free, they hesitate to spend the subway fare or taxi. We are living through tough times. And god forbid it should be a rainy night then  no one will show. So the event is judged on the same criteria as a commercial event – how many people were there determines its success, not the piece that was presented -  and in that particular case the high-tech interactive screens and computer/camera setup took hours (the artists were up on ladders with hammers and nails with no tech help whatsoever), it is rather unrewarding for such painstaking work.

To reflect that these particular funders are unwilling to leverage the merit of the program versus the lack of attendance of one event out of a series leads to a vicious conundrum: not enough funding to properly market the event, not enough staff to coordinate outreach efforts which actually are very time-consuming and difficult to organize especially in terms of schedules, therefore no more funding for future programs, and get to the level at which funders will consider your efforts. This is enough to discourage any grass-root efforts to try and present culture in local neighborhoods, and certainly does not acknowledge good will – it’s a business, the art business, and maybe too much of a business at times for real artists who are more concerned with the work that they are producing than its ever-consuming promotion.

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