there's that money thing again
Post #250 • April 5, 2004, 12:48 PM • 9 Comments
During the course of the recent discussion about arts writing, Michael Betancourt put up a website and told everyone to put their money where their mouth is: " I will write things there; anyone else who wants to, just say so, and you can - without restraint by me. Just e-mail and I'll make it so." Onajide Shabaka reminded everyone that the Miami Art Exchange "is, of course, open to posting hard-hitting critical reviews." This leads me to make some observations:
- Anyone who wants to write art criticism now has two venues that will publish their work online.
- It's not like it's all that hard to start your own blog.
- Oh, you'd like to be paid?
Me too, and I'm afraid that this is one thing that I never figured out as former editor of the MAEx. Even paying the writers something ridiculous - $25 an article - turned out to be an unsupportable burden on the organization. I never saw a dime from it as editor, and after fourteen months of working on it for free, I gave up and handed the keys to Jide. He also lasted fourteen months and then, with everyone's blessing, restyled the site as a personal project. Because a personal project, you can work on for free and enjoy it. But a public project, as I found out, is an object lesson in how no good deed goes unpunished.
Michael did a good deed. If he posts articles as is, he'll avoid a lot of the hassles that go with editing, but sooner or later someone will submit junk and he'll have to decide whether to sully his site with it or do something editor-like and incur hassles upon himself. With the comments features on the site, maybe readers can do vigilante editing. I'm interested to see what happens.
My original remarks were directed at the tameness of art criticism in the print world, which for the time being has a much greater circulation among the public than websites. The papers also pay their writers, which tends to encourage more professional work. (At least it discourages unprofessional work.) But if blog criticism becomes more interesting, the papers will eventually have to compete with it.
In the meantime, I have two ideas. One, I will bump back the re-launch of Go See Art to May 1, and it will feature Amazon-style reader reviews of shows in the listings. I want everyone to know that this forces me to wrap my brain around PHP parsing of Document Object Model trees in XML on a much hairier schedule than I would like, but I'm willing to do it.
Two, I propose the formation of a new site that will publish two articles a week, fifty weeks per year, and pay the writers $50 an article. (Peanuts! But it's something.) At the end of the fifty weeks, one of those writers whose work has not been published in print before will receive an honorarium of $500. The editor and fundraiser will also receive a $500 honorarium. Here's the deal - I will not, not, not serve as editor or fundraiser. I will publish the site, meaning that I will code it, maintain it, and host it on my server if someone can work in a $500 honorarium for me as well. Total cost of project: $7000, which is nothing. There's probably $7000 in change behind the couch cushions in the homes of our major collectors.
For an editor, we need someone who is affable, experienced, and in possession of weapons-grade intellectual capabilities. I nominate Joel Weinstein.
For a fundraiser (who by necessity will be Executive Officer), we need someone bilingual and visible in the community with ferocious organizational skills, connections, and no ax to grind regarding the content of the project. I nominate Denise Delgado.