Forecast recently invited 2016 Emerging Artist Research & Development grantee Eric F. Avery to write a blog for our website reflecting on the grant year.

 

I recently wrapped up working on a Research and Development Grant from Forecast and was invited to write a blog post. Initially, I was thinking I would write about public performance or perhaps something about failure (Because my project was rained out, so ended up not being as public as I had planned). That got thrown out of the window when I found myself at two major cross roads:

  1. My decision to rethink my commitment to the arts
  1. The 2016 election and its unforeseen outcome

Instead of writing a blog entry about my grant project I’m going to share some questions I’ve been thinking about for my life project:

  1. Are our scarce resources and energy worthy of a field that in practice only reaches a select portion of the population?
  1. What good can art do for the public? (I know, I hate it when funders and non-artists are super interested in measurables, but I think it’s a useful question)
  1. Who is art meant for? (Other than “everyone”?)
  1. How can we build sustainable lives as artists in the face of diminishing returns?
  1. What is the role that art should play in a turbulent political time?
  1. What modes of art are consistently effective today?
  1. What modes of art are truly accessible today? (I mean reaching people across multiple intersectional identities, not just a meager collection of tokens.)
  1. What is the responsibility of an artist to a society? To a neighborhood? To their self?
  1. Will 2017 actually not be much different than other years we’ve seen?
  1. Is the non-profit field detrimental for art-making and artists? Does it strip away an entrepreneurial aspect that keeps artists from connecting directly with their funders & audiences?
  1. Do the ways that art intersects with politics need to change?
  1. Are artists completely out of touch with a majority of the country? I.e. sporting events seem to be doing fine, but audience numbers are dwindling and audiences remain homogenous for many.
  1. Will the skills of artists ever be truly valued outside of the art world?
  1. How can artists rethink their artistic practices as they relate to capitalism?
  2. What skills do artists need today that they don’t have?
  1. How do we begin to address and dismantle the exploitative practices imbedded in the artistic field?
  1. How do we create stable operational models that celebrate the multitude of stories we contain without relying upon gifts, grants, and the entire concept of charity?
  1. Are we doing an injustice by preparing young artists for careers that many of them will likely not be able to have?
  1. Will 2017 be unlike any other year we’ve ever seen?
  1. Can one ever stop being an artist? Is it a vocation, a career, a calling, a contagion?

Maybe these relate to your journey or maybe not. I have no answers to offer at this point, but plan on being in conversation about these ideas as I embark in a new kind of journey. Although, I’m no longer in the practice of art-making, I want the best for the field and more importantly the overworked and underappreciated artists who bring so many dreams into reality, so let’s have a dialogue about where we are, what needs to change, and what’s next for all of us.

 

Forecast’s emerging artist grants are made possible through the generous support of the Jerome Foundation.