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Art As Business

On the front page of today’s newspaper was an article about an independent filmmaker meeting with investors in hopes of making his movie in Ohio.

Investor, as defined by dictionary.com: To put money to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.

Contrast this with another local musician who also had a goal – to make a record in a well-respected music city in hopes of national distribution. And he too, needed money to make his dream come true.

You know what he did?

Threw a fundraiser. He charged $50 to $100 a ticket for cocktail weenies, cheap wine, and an acoustic performance.

When Henry Ford decided to make the automobile accessible to everyone, he didn’t go door to door selling candy bars so he could expand his factories. Instead, he wrote a Business Plan, detailing his ideas, goals and plans for achieving them. He used this information to raise capital – from whom?

Investors (see filmmaker) – Not Donors (see Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation)

What the filmmaker understands that the musician doesn’t is that art is also a business, and if one wants to be taken seriously as an entrepreneur, one needs to behave like one. By asking people to give him the money to make his record, the musician set himself up as a charity case, as someone who needs to be taken of.

The filmmaker, by contrast, has a responsibility to the people who invest in his project. He has entered into a contract whereby they will help him make his film, and he will repay them with dividends. At first blush, it seems as if the musician has the better deal; he can take the moolah and walk away.

What the filmmaker can do, provided he’s made good on his promises, is keep asking his investors for thier continued support. And they, meanwhile, can get some great tax breaks for their efforts.

The only thing the musician’s donors get for their troubles is a case of the warm fuzzies. And just how long can that last?

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