Feeling the Pinch? Part 1

We sure are! With declines in private and public sources of contributed support, arts groups around New Jersey (and around the nation) are feeling it in one way or another, and probably in more than one way!

We recently asked artists and arts organizations to let us know how funding cuts affect them and the response we received was astounding. It is imperative that we track and document what is being lost as a result of funding cutback, so please keep your emails, tweets, and Facebook messages coming!

Below is the first in our Feeling the Pinch series:

Hello ArtPride!
Yes I am feeling the pinch and always have the feeling that my family is one job loss away from foreclosure. That said can I complain? Though we carry heavy debt I work a part time job with decent health benefits. This gives us some security and me some time to work on the artwork, which I do when I am not repairing a house that, as it falls in value, also falls apart about us. My wife works in the field of art moving, specifically the moving and rigging of monumental sculpture. She sees cutbacks in her industry as art handlers in the galleries are laid off, galleries close, fewer galleries set up booths in the big art fairs etc etc. She sees the containers piling up in Newark.

In our township we have an annual studio tour. This year the number of participants nearly doubled and consequently the number of visitors did to though they didn’t seem to be spending as much. I feel fortunate to be in a community that supports the arts but even that support is eroding. Our local gallery, the Pierro Gallery of South Orange, almost lost its director, Judy Wukitsch, as a result of village cost cutting. Only the relentless work of some local art warriors stood in the way of her job being cut completely.

On a personal level I have been confronting the financial crisis we are all dealing with by making art about it. I have created a blog called the Bouncy Banker (http://thebouncybanker.blogspot.com) in which artists take on the financial meltdown, with humor, ire and whining all in equal measure. At the blog’s heart lie a series of Letters To The Bouncy Banker, fictional satirical letters from a beleagered artist to his local bank manager. In March I shared a show with Rick Parker, The Depression Show, at the 1978 Maplewood Arts Center (http://www.1978artscenter.org/exhibitions.php“>The Depression Show), which featured a cardboard Self Portrait as Bad Asset, a frame letter FROM the Bank, along with Hobo Art, Shrunken Studios, an online comic, and a post financial apocalyptic narrative.

I couldn’t stand financial anxiety causing creative paralysis so this was how I responded: by rolling it into my artwork.

All the best in your researches.

Russell Christian

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