I once read somewhere that real wealth is not about having money, but rather about having time and space. While I don't remember who said that, I'm pretty sure he or she wasn't talking specifically about the arts. In essence, it is what Virginia Woolf was saying in A Room of One's Own, except she mixed in the monetary: a room of one's own and 1000 pounds a year -- which, in essence, buys time. When I read the blogs of many of the theatre artists, this really comes home. Playwrights, directors, actors, designers all need the time to create, and a place to do it in.
It seems like a truism, really, and yet what happens to our idea of fundraising if we shift our focus just that little bit? If, instead of raising money, we went out to try to raise time and space. Many artists work day jobs in order to pay the rent, i.e., they make money to buy space. Artists, what if a patron or foundation offered you, not a grant, but a rent-free apartment for a year -- would this make any difference in your artistic life? What if a grocery chain offered to give you groceries for a year? Or the electric company paid your utilities for a year? How much real estate stands empty while someone seeks a buyer? What if they could get a tax right-off for renting it to you? What if empty warehouses could be leased for a penny a year to artists looking for a place to rehearse, or a place to put together a very basic performance space?
Of course, this is the world of bartering -- I am not having any particularly new and brilliant ideas. But it seems to me that the grantwriting scene has become so professionalized that another approach -- one involving smaller amounts of basic goods -- might lead to more time and space for artists.
So a question to the artists: would any of this make a significant difference to your artistic life?