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What is art really worth?

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I sit here and see what Giacometti's Walking Man was recently sold for. As artists we often discuss and present how arts real value has no dollar amount. Yet there we are. Someone was obviously willing to put a dollar amount on that piece. But what does that dollar amount actually measure?

Both the NEA with all their recent studies and The Americans for the arts with their recent Arts Index both bemoan the status of arts support and funding. But really, who is benefiting from Shen Wei's grant of $500,000?

While i was working for Pilobolus, shortly after their appearance on the Oscars and Oprah Winfrey we did a rough calculation that over the course of Pilobolus's 30+ year history of performances Pilobolus has performed live for just over 1,000,000 people. that's with an average schedule of 100 performances a year. The appearance on Oprah's show trounced that in less than an hour. We had more hits than that figure on Youtube alone after our appearance on Conan O'Brien was posted.

If the NEA's focus is supposedly that high quality art is a part of people's everyday lives, why do the arts seem to always be struggling?

Or has such endeavors simply outlived their usefulness? For instance, I know one dance presenter after 30 years who can't sell subscriptions to long time patrons anymore because he has done such an excellent job educating his audience that they prefer to pick and choose what they watch.

Or, is art's value really only in the lives it actually touch? The dollar amount only reflects the value to the person who paid it. Monetary investment is just a side product of very specific pieces and should not be conflated with actual, true value. But how does that affect those of us who are trying to make a living as artists?

Just some thoughts as I sit here contemplating my art and my work and influencing others.


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