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Artist living on Welfare


Artists living on Welfare. Who has not met them? It is so terribly common that it doesn’t even make you raise an eyebrow anymore. While a carpenter living on welfare is simply called unemployed.

The welfare system in The Netherlands aided the development of a culture in which an artist, following his calling to produce fine arts, is more privileged than other ‘professions’. While the unemployed carpenter has to go out looking for a job, the artistically challenged creative can lie on his bed for days on end in his quest for inspiration. Such imbalances are now being taken care of. And that’s a good thing. Calling yourself an Artist can no longer be abused as an alibi to hold out your hand for tax money and sleep in.

In order to justify total lethargy artists’ often employ the term ‘sell out ‘. While claiming money from society you hear the echo of their catch phrase: “I don’t want to sell out”. The thing is, being commercial and yet not selling any of your artwork is indeed a tough cookie to swallow. In my opinion you don’t need to be commercial then. Go ahead and don’t sell your artistic messing abound, if you don’t want to. But this attitude does not need funding by others. Just imagine the unemployed carpenter stating that he does not want to be constructing commercially. That he’d rather wish to work without nails and only wants to construct round shapes against the squares of this world. The dear man would be declared mad. And his benefits would most likely be cut.

According to me it’s all very simple. The moment you can support yourself, you can call yourself an artist. But when you can’t generate enough income with your turd-on-a-stick, go get yourself another job and practice art in your own free time. As a hobby. This approach would allow you to satisfy all your artistic urges in your upstairs attic and the rest of the country would not have to pay for your lack of talent.

13 thoughts on “Artist living on Welfare

  1. Right! What is your art worth, if it is not valued enough by others to even sustain it's own creation? So yay for funding art education of the who are 'gifted', nay for those who cannot create enough value in their art to make sense to enough others (as, like Roos says, the rest of us do…)

  2. Funny how some turds-on-a-stick turns into the most-wanted-art-on-a-stick after a couple of decades because of a generation of turds-with-a-stick wouldn't recognize true art.

  3. Bottomline, the recognition of art has always come from those who could afford to buy art. No government support in any way shape or form has ever build an artists fame and rightly so.

  4. "True art" as in the eyes of the internetblogger. I don't agree with that definition but even if we are sticking with that definition it's a false statement. So you say: when it's profitable, it's art?

  5. @Maanwater: Is it really always the rich who define the recognition of Art? Isn't it often the so called Underground which plays a more important role in identifying new and important developments? The Underground doesn't always have the financial means though to invest, but does have the network and the possibilities to propel art into the real world. Now more than ever. Rich people aren't mostly the most avant-garde ones, but then I agree that the government isn't either…….

  6. Like many respected members of society, Jan Roos hates his alarm clock. Still, every morning after cursing it to hell, Jan manages to get out of bed no more than five minutes after its first beep. He has to, or he loses his job. And Jan reallly likes his job – even if, like almost everybody, he has had to adjust his ambition and aspirations to more closely align them to his actual talents and capabilities.

    Jan is a punctual if reluctant taxpayer, a law-abiding citizen, in short: a valued member of society. As such, he seems thoroughly reconciled with his comfortable and fun, if somewhat average, existence. No outward signs betray his daily struggle with alarm clock, boss, taxes and mediocrity. The only time Jan ever vents his simmering resentment is when he spots an Artist on Welfare.

    This creature is the exact antithesis of everything Jan stands for: Not only does he sleep late, he even uses his bed during the day to lie down, purportedly 'waiting for inspiration'. Unlike Jan, the Artist on Welfare has always believed in his talent and never compromised on his aspirations.

    Of course, this would all be fine to Jan (or at least, he would have to pretend it were) if the Artist in question would pay his own way. But since he doesn't, whenever he meets the Artist on Welfare, Jan goes berserk with all the pent-up fury of his alarm-clock hatred, workfloor frustration and thwarted ambitions.

    Not being very wealthy, Jan doesn't know the first thing about art. But he knows what the appreciation of rich people looks like, and the Artist on Welfare does not seem to have received much of it. Therefore, his art is shit. Which, by the way, comes as no surprise considering his obnoxious daytime sleeping habits and lousy work ethic.

    Jan Roos. If only this country would produce such courageous bed-leavers, conscientious workers, ruthless sell-outs and true carpentry enthousiasts with an actual talent to really turn those beautiful characteristics into something lasting… like art!

  7. The question here is: do you want the government (aka the inhabitants of a certain country) to fund the *development* of art, rather than to fund art as a whole?

    The stick-on-a-turd analogy is a right one here, because who are we to decide that the shit somebody creates today, will be the same shit in the future? Many artists will agree that it takes years to perfect ones skill. Being able to devote the entirety of someone's time to perfecting that skill, makes it so that skill is fully developed in less amount of time, than when the artist has to divide his attention between his skills and a job to earn wages.

    Also, if the artist fully develops his skills quicker, it should also be so that society at large may benefit from those skills quicker, and in a better way than we would've maybe been able to imagine before.

    In other words, the funding of art via Welfare for Artists should maybe be looked at from a more future perspective indeed, instead of looking at it from the Now.

    That being said: the stick-on-a-turd must present a very strong case for his work to be funded. But I mean, here in Holland shit's bounded by rules too, you know ;)

  8. you are forgetting something essential here. the artist is already on the spectrum from slightly mad to crazy. they sleep late because they have chemical imbalances usually in their HPA axis and quite often their glial cells (coating of the brain) are overactive, which then in turn affect their moods ( I am doing a P.hD in neuro BTW). There are all kind of reasons for these brain alterations, from viral infections to their parents conceiving too late in life to early trauma etc, etc.

    The point is unless you have diagnosis and cure, short of killing them off, they would be bloody useless in a regular job anyway. Be late, forgetting protocols, coming in depressed. So what do you want to do, have more homeless on the streets ? Artists, can create in all kinds of areas most people could not, so job centers should define artistic temperaments as a group somewhere between axis 1 mental disorder and the rest of us. They can be given assignments and creative projects to contribute to the community which most welfare artists would be more than happy to do, and quite often do for nothing of their own free will.

  9. If we look at welfare system from different side then we can see that it actually creates a lot of low-paid jobs in economy and helps people with low IQ to find a suitable job. What happens with that welfare money? half goes for rent of apartment + gas, electricity, water, heat, then we have food, internet, telecommunications, and little bit more stays for the rest.
    Basically all that welfare is a indirect subsidizing of local business.

    As for useless of artist who do not sell-off… Well, I am myself scientist , and can say absolutely the same thing about scientific professions. Most of scientists doing useless work that will never result in any commercial value. But those few who succeed will pay all the bills of those who did not. The problem is – how to find those few and put all others on welfare, so that they will not spend billions of taxpayer money for nothing. And it is the same problem with artistic community….

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