Late last year I asked Rick Chen (Pozible.com) and Tom Dawkings (StartSomeGood.com) "Which is better; art funded by government grants or art funded by commercial sales? What about art that is crowd-funded?" via Twitter with some interesting responses from the above and others. For more on this read here.
The tweeted questions imply a critical relationship between art and money which is not new. Since before even The Dark Ages this relationship has corrupted or enlightened external motivations for artistic practice. Of course, the internal motivations are the more important ones, and usually win the day in the act of creation by the artist, but the external motivations often decide how work is distributed, acquired and valued by society and The Market. These critical relationships have been explored by philosophers, social scientists, economists, critics and historians throughout the late 20thC and continue to be of interest in the early 21stC.
For instance government funded art tends to focus on the social, communal and relative values of artistic practices. Commercially funded artistic practices on the other hand tend to deal with artistic qualities such as market appreciation, originality, authenticity, provenance and scarcity in order to estimate economic values. Whereas crowd-funded (or more accurately 'peer funded') projects are based on reputation as currency. By using social media, email lists and clever amateur marketing tactics, the artists may put together funds enough to complete a temporary project, or seed a project that has other funding models built in.
Peer funding is an important next-step in opening new ways for artists to get paid and make work. Will it turn the artist into a professional cyber-beggar? Will it create work with new characteristics? Will it change the way we value, distribute and acquire art? Probably all of the above...