Money, Class, and Diversity in the Arts

The fact of the matter is we don’t talk openly about class in America and even less so in the arts. Maybe it is because the arts and the non-profit sector generally has historically been a place where wealthy people who wanted to do good things found work. And the relationships between funders and grantees — at least to some extent — were people of relatively close social and economic status swapping money. Wealthy people can afford to take an arts job for $30K/year in NYC on top of $80K of grad school debt because they don’t have to actually live off of what they make. It was many years of working in the arts before I realized that.

And especially in NYC you are more likely to run into the type of wealthy person that you just don’t run into elsewhere. Like, really super duper crazy rich.

Andy Horwitz has a really good post about financial transparency, class, and diversity in The Brooklyn Commune Project, whose mission is to “investigate the economics of cultural production in the performing arts in the United States.” [Thanks to Rebecca for the pointer.]

Photo: See-Ming Lee