Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is Patronage the Way Forward for Art?

Yesterday, I posted about the cover of Fiddler's Green by A.S. Peterson and the opportunity to be a patron of the book.

This idea of being a patron for the arts is one the Rabbit Room artists have really embraced and one I really adore. I tend to like music that doesn't seem to hit the mainstream or win any popularity contests. I know that for many of these artists, each project is a huge undertaking. I can buys CDs sure, but being able to help fund them upfront makes me feel like a bigger part of the process. I feel as though I'm able to give more to the creation of the art I love. Sure it's not a lot in the overall scheme of things, but I feel like I'm a part of something that is helping to support the art that has, in some cases, saved my life. For music especially, this is a joy to me.

Last year when the opportunity to be a patron for The Fiddler's Gun came about, I was glad to participate and intrigued by the idea of doing this for books. It really paid off in this case, I loved the book and have already committed support to The Fiddler's Green. Books ARE a bit riskier, though, especially with an author that is unknown. Yet, it seems many lovely books will never get published if they aren't easily categorized from a marketing and publishing perspective. During a brief chat at Hutchmoot this past summer about publishing books that won't make money, Andrew Peterson said something to the effect of, "I believe philanthropy is the answer." You have no idea how much I wish I had the money to be a REAL patron of the arts!

Recently, though, I've also watched a similar situation unfold with Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz film. A few weeks ago he announced the film had come to a halt due a lack of funding. In response, a group set up a campaign to save the movie and have managed in just a few weeks to raise the needed money for the film to proceed. They begin filming October 28th. I admit to having two responses to this:
2)Can we do this for Veronica Mars?

Watching that and seeing the path the Rabbit Room is taking, makes me think there's something real to the idea of being a patron of the arts. Have you ever read a book you loved so much you would have paid double for it? If you favorite author couldn't publish their next book due to lack of funding would you kick in a couple of extra bucks to make it happen?

The way I see it, there are a few things going on with the idea of the everyman being a patron of the arts.
1) The examples I cited are all from strong faith communities. Faith driven art generally gets less attention and general funding in our modern time so it becomes more necessary for the people benefiting directly to play a part in sustaining it.
2) Donald Miller and the Rabbit Room have a strong and loyal internet following. I've not met many, if any, casual Andrew Peterson fans, we are generally a very devoted bunch. This allows blogs and social media to be used to spread the word quickly.

I wonder if this would work for other books. I'm hesitant to believe so because so many readers use the library primarily and do not pay for books. Do you ever wish you could give more to an author? Is there a situation where you would be willing to give to the creation of a book?


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