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February 16, 2024

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Fight for artists’ rights continues today

Starting long before the 60s, but officially rising to the occasion in that era, the Art Worker’s Coalition fought for the rights and demands of artists and writers.

It was a coalition that took over NYC, because where else was the best hopes of reaching the most people?

Artists, writers, and creative people of all avenues fought to be heard.

They were demanding that people give them the sort of equal opportunities that artists have traditionally received over the years.

All areas that were originally unsettled and undefined as far as carrying a hip trend went were quickly settled by artists who carved out a style that was picked up and soon the districts became the “In-happenin” places to be.

The reason I’m bringing all this up is because the battle for artists of all kinds – yes, a writer is an artist as well – is that we are living in a society that has continually grown according to a mainstream groove.

While this is amazing in its own right, it neglects to appreciate the seed of original, creative thoughts that grow within all of us.

The artists that were fighting in the 60s and 70s are no different then the battles that artists underwent in Renaissance periods, except for the fact that our current culture is garnered under a different rule then when Michelangelo existed.

In that time the value of art was put under a different rule and artists worked for people as a trade.

I believe that there is a similar desire in our current culture.

People have not lost an appreciation for beautifully crafted work of all nature, yet sometimes for the artists it is a disparaging trial of piercing through the skin of a culture that is corporately controlled and nationally distributed.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this idea of capitalism, yet more and more creative folk are fighting to be treated equally as far as their professional integrity is concerned.

The AWC managed to arrange a day where the most prestigious of all art museums, the Museum of Modern Art and its many galleries closed for a day in protest for artists’ rights.

They posted a list of “General Demands” that included things like the inclusion of fees for all artists’ work that is displayed in establishments that are charging cover charges.

The money that is charged at the door can be garnered out percentage by percentage to all the different folk of the business, but the artist receives a percentage.

Also, the artists called for a tax that would be set up as a trust fund from the work of dead artist’s so that the money could be used to assist in social benefits, including health insurance and stipends for the artist’s dependents.

This money could be used to help benefit the working class and folk that are only marginally getting by.

But, always, the artists only required a portion of the proceeds.

Most profits were going back into the system that created it.

This driving, inclusive desire is still apparent within the artistic colony despite the looming pressures of a society illustrated with snap shots of what’s “popular” or “Hollywood”.

The truth is, us artists just want to help people out.

Sure most of us create work that helps us make peace with the world, but we also realize that it is in the expression and sharing of that illustration, despite the media, that conveys the fact that this is not just a phase for us.

The culture of an evolving, creative, organic community is still here.

People do still care about good artwork.

How else do things like “Harry Potter” and “Brokeback Mountain” enter our culture?

They started as stories from people that were working at expressing themselves.

That, perhaps, is the biggest challenge for all of us – to include, not exclude.

But who knew that the next big artist was right next to them at the coffeeshop, playing a board game and chatting about the weather?

I have never met an artist that wasn’t down to earth and working toward many different politically inclusive ideas of supporting our own people.

That is a very noble deed.

Send comments to David at [email protected].

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