I’ve just returned from the Guildhall Square – MRA and I took some bags of clothes, blankets etc in the “Don’t Hate, Donate” collection for people in Aleppo – the number of people there was quite astonishing and was certainly Pompey at its best.
It’s cheered me up but I’m going to make a couple of comments about yesterday’s debate which made me very SAD:
Firstly I don’t need to be told that if I choose to play for nothing, I’m saying my music (art) is worthless because it isn’t. There is a always a context and while I’m not interested in being ripped off, I’m willing to work for nothing in the right context. I finished my painting degree 40 years ago and I still paint, I’ve been playing music for 50+ years and did a gig today, I still work with performing arts students at the University and over the years I’ve worked with the Arts Council, British Film Institute, Crafts Council, etc as well as local galleries and theatres – and I’ve published regularly about art, music, film etc. I have a pretty good grasp of what’s involved in the various creative and cultural industries and if I choose to accept a gig or give a painting without payment, that’s my business – it doesn’t mean for a minute that I think my work is “worthless” because there are more things to ‘get back’ from a gig than a couple of tenners in my hand. The best thing by a distance is a strong relationship with the audience.
There is a similar point about “exposure”. I don’t (necessarily) mean by that word exposure in the sense of loads of gigs coming from the performance for free. I mean exposure as a performing musician because no amount of practice will ever prepare you to play live in front of people – and at a Festival it’s tough because your audience is not ‘captive’ – If you don’t cut it, they can move on to someone else. You can’t buy that experience, it’s a craft and it takes most of us years to crack. I’m not bad at it now but it wasn’t always like that and sometimes it’s worth doing a specific gig because of the quality of that experience. I’m a qualified teacher and over four years in the early 1970s I spent three terms in schools as an unpaid student learning that craft. Musical performance is no different – it needs to learned and very few of us are ‘naturals’.
However in case people think this is all a bit ‘soppy’, a bit ‘liberal’, I have another very important point to make. The reason people don’t always get paid (or paid fairly) for what they do is called CAPITALISM, and dreaming that a single pop festival is suddenly going to start operating outside those parameters is just that – dreaming.
I believe all workers should be remunerated fairly for their labour. I very rarely talk politics on this Blog, and I might never do so again, but now I shall. I’m a member of the Labour Party which I first worked for as a school kid in 1966 when Frank Judd won Portsmouth West and I joined the party in the 1970s. In case you’re wondering, yes I did vote for HIM too in the leadership elections and I look forward eagerly to the day when the socialist revolution transforms this country and all the bands at the gloriously revolutionary festivals are paid appropriately.
In the meantime I’ll give thanks that I’m lucky enough to have such a blessed life living in Portsmouth while people are murdering each other in the name of freedom all over the world. And if a few local musicians have to buy their own strings it won’t trouble me as much as the utter ineptness of the UN over Syria or the threat to the world posed by the games of the USA and Russia or the rise of the nationalist far right in Europe or …