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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

On Tuesday we usher in a new president and a new era of hope and change. We also embark on a journey through difficult times with an economy in a death spiral the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression. For many of us who weren’t born during those years we have never experienced such a time in our lives as challenging as this. It is more than a little scary and perhaps hard to start this new year feeling full of hope.

During a tight time such as this, the arts will be taking a big hit and many artists will need to cling to, or go out seeking, alternative work to supplement or replace the income from their creative work. Yet many, myself included, will still opt to donate a portion of what they make to good causes and for the benefit of others who are in need. Some may wonder why.

In a open letter to his daughters published today, President-Elect Obama states

…you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential. Barack Obama

An artist friend of mine, Karen North Wells has put it

As of Jan 1st, 20% of sales are donated to Habitat.
As of Jan 1st, 20% of my sales are donated to Habitat.

this way: “If your hand isn’t open to give, it won’t be open to receive.”

I personally had a sort of epiphany about how and why to justify myself as an artist by using it in this way. I felt very conflicted about the desire to devote myself , my time and my energy – even part time as I am- to the making and selling of art. Let’s face it, making pretty pictures is not a cure for cancer. It can’t feed starving people or put a roof over their head.

BUT, I suddenly realized, it can be a powerful way to do those things indirectly. Just for one example, people are constantly asking artists, among others, to donate to silent auctions and the like when holding fundraisers. By donating work or a portion of profits or proceeds to causes that do feed and shelter and search for cures, I can do the work I feel called to do and make a difference, albeit a small and indirect one. (But enough small drops of water together will still eventually wear away a stone.)

Because affordable housing was an issue of great importance on the Cape and to me personally, I decided years ago to donate a percent of any sales to Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod. As of this January 1st I decided to increase it from 10% to 20%. As they say, “God works in mysterious ways”. Some may say this is poor business practice or even plain crazy. But I am trusting that, as has happened many times before, what I put out there will come back to me in some way tenfold.

Austism has also touched my family and last year I found myself working on raising donations and selling raffle tickets for the first ever benefit on Cape Cod for autism_speaksAutism Speaks. Me, the girl who hated selling Girl Scout cookies as a kid and still am loathe to ask people for money today. But Janet Hart Barbato of the Ocean House in Dennis had jumped in to do it and I found myself jumping in to help, hitting up artists and other friends for donations. Sometimes I didn’t even get to ask before they would offer their goods and services when they heard about the event. Just think of what can happen if every artist , and every person, tries to find just one small way to use their talents to help.

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So here’s the challenge to artists and anyone who wants change and hopes for better days ahead: How might you “paint your wagon” and what are you going to hitch it to?

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