Visions of artists and patrons

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Debates have gone back and forth through the ages about who the Arts are for. It is obvious that artists need the support of well heeled and powerful patrons in order to survive. In some cases those patrons happen to be visionaries who can steer artists in the direction of creating remarkable, memorable work. This is not always the case however.

In some parts of the world, governments have taken over some of the funding of artistic eco-systems. The state employed operatives who make decisions about what to fund are in a curiously contentious position, since they wield some of the influence of Medici or Diaghilev type figures, even though they are not spending their own money to support the artists.

Since it is a fact of life that many artists have to depend on the good will of the patrons and funding officers, it is unlikely that the dynamics between these interest groups are ever going to be anything other than wary in a lot of cases.

Does this mean that artists who don’t manage to hit the jackpot with their creative outputs should always aim to be obsequious and pliable, to keep the patrons and funders happy? What impact does that sort of attitudinal choice have on the artist’s output?

In some situations it is possible to speak one’s truth and also attract the support of generous donors, but an artist shouldn’t always expect such happy coincidences to occur. Life goes on, in the meantime.