Friday, February 4, 2011

Non-profit in the arts

Last night I played a set among five by Leeway Foundation grantees. We were all young artists of color performing in classical, contemporary, hip-hop, punk, and jazz styles. I appreciated how warm toward and supportive of one another the performers were.

Among announcements and general rallying cries were cheers for non-profits. I feel odd expressing pride in non-profit as a brand, kind of like pride in studying formal music theory or pride in disinfectant. As a musician and queer, I have practices of which I am proud that require one or another functional necessities. I'm not ashamed of such necessities, but it would be an uncomfortable stretch to extend my pride to them.

Are there context-specific reasons for pride in non-profit status distinct from those in the benefit and virtue such agencies generate?

Again I emphasize I have no shame about the non-profit brand. Jeri Johnson of Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra struggled heroically to make her group survive as a NP agency. There's even more room for businesses to become better for-benefit agents. The pay discrepancy between NP, government, and for-profit jobs is at once alarming for the talent drain, but encouraging as well. That passion and willingness to sacrifice comfort and lifestyle for service is prideworthy.

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