Art is not free.

I’ve just started reading The Death Of The Artist: How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech by William Deresiewicz (order here in paperback after 2/1/22 – DON’T get it from Amazon for the very reasons he writes about). It’s an amazing and terrifying book. For a moment I thought, “He’s saying everything I want to say so maybe I don’t need to write my book after all.” But I quickly realized that (1) not everyone would want to read his 368 pages and (2) my book is for a different audience anyway. So I’m still writing it. But I plan on quoting him extensively. 🙂 

Deresiewicz’ premise is that the basic financial exchange between audiences and artists has been broken by the internet, and (among other results) the common assumption is now that the arts are supposed to be free (or at least cheap). There are many reasons why that is an incorrect and dangerous assumption, but the main one is that art is not, and never will be, free TO MAKE. So why should it be free to consume? 

Here’s an excerpt from the (very rough) first draft of my book, about #1 of the three points in Luann’s Arts Business Paradigm. Since this paradigm is so much at the core of everything I talk about, I will get to #2 and #3 eventually here in the blog. But I tell my students that, even if they remember absolutely nothing else that I ever say to them, remember:

Art is not free

Continue reading “Art is not free.”

I’m writing two books


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Technically, I guess, I’m working on two books, but only writing one.

The first is an editing project more than a writing project. It will probably get a better title one day but for now it’s 10 Questions Young Artists Ask (or should) About a Career in the Arts, or 10Q. I’m polling 50+ artists, educators, and theologians for their answers to 5 theological questions and 5 practical questions about life as an artist. Then I’ll edit their answers into a book targeted to high school and college fine and performing arts students and their parents, because I think the parents might need it more than the kids do.

The questions are:

Continue reading “I’m writing two books”

[much] Labor and [little] Value

I typically agree with everything Seth Godin writes. Even saying “agreeing” with him sounds weird, because so much of what comes out of my mouth when talking about creative business comes directly from him.

But in his Sept 20 daily blog post (which I highly recommend you sign up to receive in your Inbox), he wrote something that made my heart sink:

Too often, we’re tempted to price things based on what they cost us to make. It’s more useful to price things based on what they’re worth to those that might want to buy them.

Seth Godin, Labor and Value

Well, Seth, that sounds terrific and would definitely be “useful” if the things you’re making are already, actually, worth enough “to those that might want to buy them.”

Continue reading “[much] Labor and [little] Value”

Why trees? Part 1

The project I’m developing now is called The Arbor Fellowship. There are a few reasons for that name, which I’ll get to in Part 2. 

First: What it will do. 

I’ll be working with fine and performing arts students at Christian colleges and universities, to help give them the business and life tools they need to have sustainable, thriving careers in the arts. 

Why is that important? Artists make culture, culture shapes people, and people create the future. I care about the future.

From my own 30+ years, post-education, working professionally in the arts, there are a few things I strongly believe:

  • Artists need time to grow into creative maturity and cultural influence. 
  • Artists won’t get that time if they are having to work for free*, squeeze their creative work around demanding full-time day jobs, redirect their work entirely toward commercial uses, etc., over long periods of time in order to pay their bills.
  • To create the “margin” needed to make enough work to grow in maturity and influence, they have to get paid. 
  • To get paid, artists need to think of themselves as, and work like, business owners and entrepreneurs.
  • We didn’t learn how to do that in our art/music/drama/film/dance schools (with a few new and notable exceptions, as these realizations are slowly starting to spread through academia). 

Why do I believe this? It’s the last 30 years of my life. And of hundreds of artists’ lives I’ve observed during those years. 

Continue reading “Why trees? Part 1”

The Year of Kudzu

Well, it’s been a good long while since I’ve posted a blog. 

A lot’s happened since February 2017. Can I get an amen? That seems like such a long, innocent time ago. I just reread that post and I’m amazed at how much has changed in my external circumstances, but not in what I’m thinking about. 

The primary idea in that 2017 post was that artists serve the community in ways that are unique to being artists, in addition to producing and presenting their creative work. In the 15 months to date of the pandemic we’re in, in which more than 60% of full-time artists (in any discipline) were fully unemployed, a whole lot of people didn’t have any choice in how/whether they served. I imagine for most of them, serving took a back seat to surviving. I pray that they were served by someone.  

My musician husband, Chuck, lost all of his gigs and about half of his teaching from the move to Zoom. I was fortunate that my job with Creative Waco continued on Zoom with few other changes, and I actually picked up a semester of teaching at Baylor that I wouldn’t have been offered in healthier times. And, without a pandemic and the accompanying loss of income in our home, I probably wouldn’t have taken a gig teaching a theatre class at a local Catholic high school, which turned out to be surprisingly rewarding.

One of the reasons I stopped blogging was that my work with Creative Waco, doing professional development training for artists, received a two-year grant and I was able to expand what I was doing. So plans to write and speak at colleges got put on hold.

That grant is coming to an end, and we’re not trying to renew it with a role for me because…wait for it…

Chuck and I are planning to move back east within the next year.

Continue reading “The Year of Kudzu”

11 years ago today…

wedding_street…I put on this dress and married the guitar player I stayed in New York for.

I’d moved here two years earlier to spend eight months studying the Meisner Technique, a method of actor training that I planned to take back to Atlanta and teach. But I fell in love at first sight with my boss’ brother and, well, so much for that plan.

We got married in an Italian restaurant in Times Square on a Saturday afternoon, surrounded by old friends, new friends, and family members.

Some years passed. I worked a few different jobs; Chuck played gigs and taught lessons.

Then the day came that I asked him to leave New York for me. Continue reading “11 years ago today…”