Thursday, February 5, 2009

Artistic People In The Real World

Titles stump me sometimes. I know what I want to convey, but I also know that if I don't grab people with a title, they may not read the copy. Today's title gives me that kind of dilemma. I hope I've gotten it right because this is a subject that is relevant to our times, I think.

The entire nation is focused on money issues right now. I don't need to detail the myriad of reasons; everyone has their own stressful tale. But, with all the bantering in Washington about who needs money for what reason and how it will all impact the economy, a segment of our society is forgotten: self-employed types like me and my husband.

In times of recession, we are guaranteed to suffer tough times. I have to reinvent myself as a writer as publications fold and editors turn to staff writers more often than freelancers. My husband is forced to look for some other way to pay our necessary bills because people forego buying art, having murals or paintings done, or scheduling private art lessons for their kids. Our entire lifestyle, envied by some, comes to a screeching halt. I know we're not alone in this situation, but we are alone when it comes to help from those in charge.

In the real world, when tax cuts are mentioned, we know it will not include our self-employment taxes, which we always have to pay. Talk about interest rates on investments doesn't impact us: we have none. We aren't considered when talk turns to unemployment compensation because we don't qualify. Even credit card companies will not grant us a stay, because our out of work status is considered non-voluntary.

My rant today isn't even about all those areas, though. It concerns a tiny portion of the stimulus package that the Senate in Washington is now seriously considering eliminating: funds for the National Endowment For The Arts. It's unnecessary, they argue. Why do we need to be worried about the arts at a critical time like this?, they ask. Hello, up there in your ivory dome! That organization funds grants for poor people like us that can mean the difference to eating - or not - for awhile. But then, I'm sure pointing this out to them would mean nothing. As I said, we are the forgotten. Grant money from any source is drying up because it's considered unnecessary spending.

My husband and I chose our lives; we live with the consequences. But it is upsetting never to be included when the government or the media discusses ways to survive during our crisis, and none of their help is directed toward our particular existence. These times are scary for everyone, that is true. But think for a minute how much scarier they are for us. We have talents to share, we work hard at our crafts, and now we are faced with fending for ourselves and hoping we last through the worst of it.

I just thought of a better title for this piece: Artistic People vs. The Real World. Why is it better? Because this is a fight we're determined to weather. We have no other choice - and we're on our own.

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