Artists have become Cultural Performers

Artists, have you ever been contacted by an event organizer and invited to take part in their event to enrich the evening?

Usually the event organizers use words such as “exposure” or “contacts” or other hot words that indicate the artist will benefit from participation. Let me say that yes, this is all true. Events are terrific ways to get out in to the community, to help the artist decide which non profits to support, and which ones have a parallel philosophy. It is important for artists to be included in cultural events, because no culture exists without art, regardless of one’s own personal preferences.

However, there is a dark side to all of this. It’s the “in” thing now to have artists at an event.

In my opinion, artists have become nothing more than free entertainment – we are asked to participate, we fill a space, we provide interaction for the attendees before, during and after, and we don’t cost anything. We have become Cultural Performers. See, that is the idea with these events – they don’t have to do anything for the artists because nothing has ever been done. They just ask us to be there and we jump, thinking about exposure and potential contacts and possible sales. Sometimes there is a promise of how much media will be at their event, with the promise of even more exposure. (Regarding possible sales, give your head a shake, this is Kelowna.) This is the carrot dangled in front of our face, and, believers in opportunity and being the eternal optimist, we take it, not asking any questions or making any requests.

I think it is time to make requests.

If you, as an artist, are asked to participate in an event that includes artists, or even just yourself, please ensure your name is included (at the very least!!) on the website as being at the event. They invited you specially didn’t they? I know how easy it is to update a website, and adding 100 characters in the form of identities is not a hard thing to do. You are giving them your time, you are not being paid as the performer is, at the very very least make sure your name is mentioned. Are you going for exposure? Then maximize this opportunity to ensure people know you will be there! Why can’t there be a line on a poster saying “attending artists are a, b c and d,” or, if there are many and space is short, then highlight a few and say “and more”… at least the artists are mentioned and respect is given.

Even at a non-profit event (are there any other kind???) you still need to be mentioned, or do you not really value your time? Are the event organizers being paid, or acknowledged as putting on the event? Are other performers being paid or acknowledged? Then why aren’t you?