It Is Okay for Artists to Make Money…No, Really, It's Okay
2009, 29 pages, Working Knowledge, Harvard Business School, hbswk.hbs.edu.
When art and commerce are mentioned in the same sentence, many people become bad tempered or think something needs fixing. This paper argues that more artists ought to make more money more often. HBS professor Robert Austin and theater dramaturg Lee Devin identify and undermine three fallacies about art and commerce, and suggest that it is necessary to carry on a more careful and less emotional conversation about the tensions between art and business and to overcome a general aversion to business common among artists and their patrons. They also stress the need to develop better theories about how art and commerce can achieve integration helpful to both. Key concepts include:
- The interests of art, artists, and business can be best served if more commerce enters into the world of art, not less.
- There are three fallacies, often implicit, about relationships between art and commerce: (1) art is a luxury and an indulgence, (2) art is clearly distinguishable from "non-art," and (3) commerce dominates and corrupts art, and subverts its purpose.
- Good art should achieve appropriate commercial value consistently, not just occasionally. A conversation takes place when art and commerce are in tension, a conversation in which neither artists nor managers should dominate.