Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Art a Living or a Hobby? Pt. 2

So, I asked if the arts were a living or a hobby, in response to Don. RVCBard responded here:
Frankly, I'm veering toward Don's POV. And it's not because of little things like reality, probability and so on. It's because not making a living off theater makes my work better - because real people live in the real world and as a theater artist, that's where my focus needs to be. Even if I do something completely surreal and fantastical, the core will be about life as it is lived today. I can't get that if I'm a sort of secular monk who can't be bothered with the lives and concerns of laypeople.
It's a valid point. I work in a sales office, with people who are about as far from me culturally as I could ever imagine. Then, sometimes, I spend a couple weeks with programmers, who are a lot more like me, so I get both ends of the spectrum.

However, I wonder if this is necessarily connected to the economic question I laid out. I can see how needing a day job necessitates that sort of contact; however, there are also ways in which having a day job can preclude that sort of contact.

For instance, some of my friends have, to support themselves, taken jobs as arts administrative assistants at larger, successful non-profits, separate from the passionate side-projects. It makes absolute economic sense, because that's what their BFAs can get them in a job market; it's what they're qualified for that, perhaps, they might not get otherwise.

Thus, the day job still surrounds them with mostly art people, in an art world where they don't go and mingle with other types of folks.

In the mean-time, the necessity of basically having two jobs (the arts-related day job and the actual artistic passion in the evenings) takes away their time to, for instance, volunteer in the community.

So I can see how for some people, they are more connected by having to get a day job; for others, they might be less connected.

Then, to reverse the hypothetical; if we lived in a world where people didn't have to do day jobs, would they be less connected? Certainly, many would choose to devote themselves to art, and then maybe just hang out socially with arts people. And thus, epistemic closure.

On the other hand, they might have more time to choose social activities that open them up to more people. They might get involved in local community activities more (having more time for it), or volunteer.

This is a question which is answerable with some research, comparing industries that do support their workers to those who don't, and seeing which feel they get to meet people outside their circle.

On the whole, though I think that the personality of the people is going to be the real deciding factor. The sort of people who will push themselves to be open to non-arts people are going to maximize non-arts connections; those who want to ensconce themselves in the art world will probably ignore those who they meet outside it.

To Sum Up: Definitely an important factor, but it's not something that sways me one way or the other so much. I can see arguments on both sides.