Filed under: art, business, education, theatre | Tags: debt, MFA, Non-Profit, student loans, Supporting the Arts
Here on the blog, the picture for artists is almost never good, so I wanted to share with you some happy news. Not long ago, I got word that someone (someone wonderful who I shall not name in case they wish to remain anonymous) has paid off my student loans. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Student Loan Free!
The gesture is extraordinary and it makes such an enormous difference. The weight of that money stacking up on the back of my Master’s degree has been heavy and has loomed large in many ways. I am now free of it, due to my donor’s generosity but I am struck by what bondage many of the other skilled artists I know are still in.
If I were in a position to start another non-profit, (which I’m not, believe me) I would create something like Donors Choose to help artists get their loans paid off. You want to give a large donation that will make a big difference? Sure, you could donate $25,000 to a giant Arts Institution and I’m sure it will help buy the paper towels there for a very long time. You give $25,000 to pay off an artist’s loans, you give that artist freedom to create. You can reduce an artist’s payments or eliminate them entirely, thereby freeing him or her to make more art instead of loan payments.
I imagine a website where artists post a little profile – who they are and what they make, and donors could choose an artist to sponsor in whatever way they’d like. I imagine a donor might then be interested in the developments in the artist’s career afterwards. Perhaps the donor becomes a dedicated patron to an artist and her circle.
Now, I’d love a website/organization to just donate to artists to live and create art, as well, but I somehow suspect that transferring large sums of money from one person to another can create tricky tax issues for everyone and generally creates difficult expectations. (“Exactly what sort of art will you be making with my money? Will you paint a portrait of my family please? In the style of poker playing dogs? I did give you $25,000 to live this year. . .”) The advantage of paying off someone’s loans is that there are a couple of filters of both the loan company and (if it existed) the non-profit. I mean, heck, you could just pay off someone’s loans without a tax break (my donor did) but wouldn’t it be great to get some benefit from donating as well?
I don’t have any money. But if I did, I know I’d prefer to help one artist dramatically than to pour money into a giant institution that eats money like candy. I have several artists in mind (and they’re not me – because Ding, Dong my loans are paid!Yippee yahoo!) If anyone with more resources than me would like to start this thing, please let me know, I’ll help you do it. Or if you’re just looking for an artist to release from loan bondage, I’ll send you some names and loan numbers.
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