Artists: Do you Create for Money or Passion?

passion or money There is a linkage between economy and culture. This is reflected on the career path of Kevin O’Leary, entrepreneur, investor, artist, and notably known from the show ‘Shark Tank’. O’Leary became a successful entrepreneur before becoming an artist; he waited decades to be recognized as a fine art photographer (see his photos here, and they are of course for sale). Similarly, actor Jim Carrey, who we all know, has become a painter in the last six years (see his work here). Is it the case for the arts that one must follow first the money and second the passion?

The arts sector has been compelled to justify and develop arguments for the economic value of its output, which depreciates its intrinsic value (Caust, 2003). There have always been tensions between commercial and entrepreneurial imperatives in the context of the economic conditions for artists (see Symbolic power), which impedes them from pursuing their passion for the arts. Lewis Hyde argues that a work of art is a gift, rather than a commodity and artists are laboring in the service of his or her gifts. Hyde (2007) says,

Art matters to us—because it moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or offers courage for living, however we choose to describe the experience—that work is received by us as a gift is received. Even if we have paid a fee at the door of the museum or concert hall, when we are touched by a work of art something comes to us which has nothing to do with the price…the spirit of an artist’s gifts can wake our own. (p. xvii)

Hyde argues that the commodification of the arts could interfere with the artistic process. As “ideas do not circulate freely when they are treated as commodities” (Hyde, 2017, p. 107). He believes the commodification of the arts could destroy an artist’s gift and thus his calling.

In an age whose values are market values and commerce exists almost exclusively in the purchase and sale of commodities, the arena in which artists share their work has inevitably shifted from a gift economy to a transaction economy. And now more than ever, artists need to rethink their crafts.

Please let me ask you: Do you create art for money or passion?



Caust, J. (2003). Putting the “art” back into arts policy making: how arts policy has been “captured” by the economists and the marketers. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 9 (1), 51–63.

D’Andrea, M. J. (2017). Symbolic Power: Impact of Government Priorities for Arts Funding in Canada. The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 47 (4), 245-258.

Hyde, L. (2007). The gift: Creativity and the artist in the modern world (25th Edition). New York, NY:  Vintage Books.


Media, Arts and Democracy

SWe are influenced daily by the online media, blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds and a myriad of ways in sharing content.  New and influential media-distribution channels have appeared in the 21st century delivered via the World Wide Web across the Internet. The media plays a role in asserting what is in the public’s best interest, and sways public perception on what is good or what is bad, what is acceptable and what is not, what is art or what is not art, who is an artist and who is not. In terms of the arts, the media can influence the arts positively or adversely depending on how the information is shared and presented to the public. Hence, there is a question of how the public perspective is swayed to perceive the arts.

In a cultural democracy, the arts are the fabric of society and there is a tension regarding how information and the arts are represented. Artists, cultural workers, and creative people are regularly in the quest for cultural democracy. In the aim to democratize the arts, the media plays a vital role, as the voice of media is often heard by the citizens who follow them. For creative workers, the fulfillment of a long-standing desire to bring together artist and the community is the hope that the media can offer. If the media decides to raise the voices of those artists they choose to, the artists will be heard. If the media decides to speak on behalf of the cultural community, the art community will be heard as well. However, this is a double edge sword as the arts and the mainstream population often perceive the arts and culture an ‘elitist’ endeavour. Although the media draws from a multidisciplinary fields (i.e. sociology, politics, economics) to narrate their issues; there is scarce coverage on favour of the discipline of the arts in this country. If the arts are featured, popular newspapers, such as the Globe and Mail or the National Post, or the Toronto Star opt to feature scandalous issues or controversial works of art. For the most part these divisive issues become headlines, affecting the public perceptions of what art is all about, limiting participation and building the stereotype in the arts field. As a result, only a few citizens get to enjoy the arts because only the very few understand it. As for the rest, unbeknownst to many, the arts are placed in the periphery.

Arts in the Periphery

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