The Value of Art


This week Baz has twice been reminded about the Value of Knowledge within the arts.


On Saturday we spent an exhausting 4 hours sat around the table that was acting as the Baz office and scrawled over flip charts with marker pens as we were led through an energising and focused brainstorm by a fundraising professional. We have been lucky enough to have secured knowledge and advice from some incredibly talented and skilled professionals over the last couple of years whilst we have stared up adoringly and lapped up every word. Frankly, we’ve been shameless – bribing a fundraiser, a PR creative, a musician, a School Drama Head, a website designer, a programme designer, a social media expert and countless other talents with coffee and wine as in order to pick their brains and benefit from their generosity. And each time they agree and share their knowledge with us I almost pinch myself… Infact, no… I really do pinch myself. Because their skills and knowledge are so valuable. Not just in terms of our appreciation, but in a monetary value to us both that increases our worth, and a value that is placed on their time. These lovely people are trained and skilled in something that they trade with on a daily basis in their day jobs. It gives them a value as employees, and the more they’ve trained and the more experience they have, the more valuable they are. To then let us in and share that skill so freely catapults us past the hard graft they’ve undertaken to learn their trade straight to the rewards that we reap, and that’s a big ask. I wouldn’t walk into a hairdresser and ask for a free cut and blow-dry for nothing just because I was a bit cash-short that month.


There is a value in skill and there is a trade and a transaction required if we aren’t able to pay for them in a conventional way. This may be bottles of wine, or large shouted thank-yous, mentions and recommendations and constant promotion, free tickets, or the promise of payment properly next time – all sealed with eternal gratitude and the promise of a warm fuzzy feeling in return. We must ensure that this is not forgotten and that we honour it in return in order to build and nurture these relationships that as an industry we so often rely on.


But we must also remember that equally there is a value in our own artistic work that as a community we often forget and can all too easily find it being taken advantage of. Actors/musicians/writers/directors (and a whole host of other artists – delete as appropriate) often find themselves working for free and asked for large favours that no-one would consider asking of friends and colleagues in other disciplines and industries. As a company, Baz are determined that an honest day’s work should be rewarded by an honest day’s pay and a large part of what we do is an attempt to urge artists to remember the skills they possess and the value they hold – beautiful skills that have been developed over years of study and training and that should be celebrated and protected, not exploited. That’s not to say we shouldn’t always be looking to help and support each other, just that we should also ensure we are not taking, or being taken, advantage of.


We have recently been lucky enough to join forces with People at Play, a collective of multi-disciplinary companies that are working out of Pimlico Academy and attempting to establish a way of supporting each other, trading our valuable skills and paying back to the community who allow us to use their space for free. On Thursday we were reminded again about the value of artists and the need to share and appreciate each other’s skills as we all freely debated how this would be achieved and revelled in the opportunity to mould and influence such an important scheme. We may not all do it the same way; we may assign different values to our skills, and we all have different things we can trade in return, but we must always ensure that trade is completed, honoured, and respected if we wish to continue to use it.


And on that note, I’m off to thank that lovely fundraiser again….

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