No one is alone

Back in May 2009, I blogged about my fellow ArtsJournal blogger Culture Grrl’s campaign to be paid by readers for her blog. That post is here. If you don’t feel like delving into Vintage Amanda, and who could blame you, the long and the short of it is that Culture Grrl asked her readers to pay her directly for the reporting on her blog. If the money didn’t come in, she would blog less frequently. From an entry on March 31, 2009:

I have juicy, nourishing morsels to serve up from this 75-minute
brainstorming session, but I was disheartened to discover that no CultureGrrl readers responded, while I was away, to my call
for Donors 25, 26 and 27 to support the blog by clicking the
languishing yellow button on the right. (Okay, I’ll settle for 25 and
26.)

Did no one miss me while I was gone?

Did I mention that one of those who popped in (and spoke) at our high-powered conversation yesterday was Carmine Branagan, director of the National Academy?

See you tomorrow (maybe).

I bring this up again because the Culture Grrl specifically mentions Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City as an example of successful blog fundraising (here, in December 2009). Johnson writes here that she got a writer’s grant and quit her day job(s) to blog full-time. She also joined NURTUREart, “an organization that has umbrella-ed Art Fag City under their 501-C3 status, will process all on and offline transactions. This collaboration will allow donors to write off their contributions, and they will also provide the oversight that ensures these funds are used for non-profit purposes.” For the 2009 campaign (which raised $8000), a donated print was offered as a prize to the highest contributor, and all donations of $25.00 or more received a custom ringtone by Travis Hallenbeck.

Yesterday, I received an e mail from one of my favorite sites, 20×200. If you don’t know about it, do yourself a favor and waste some time there when no one’s calling you at work today. They are currently selling prints that say “We Have Had Sex In This Room.” “We Have Had Sex In This Room Also.” “Yup This One Too.” I would buy them, except I live alone so that might be weird? Oh also, I only have two rooms. Anyhow, back to the fundraiser:

Bruce High Quality Foundation to Benefit Art Fag City

New-art-for-a-great-cause greetings, collectors! Today we’re taking a vacation from the holiday vacation and going back to school in style with Teach 4 Amerika (school bus), an edition by the Bruce High Quality Foundation.

The anonymous Brooklyn-based artist collective is most memorably known for their public art hijinks and DIY production of Cats. Critic Jerry Saltz dubbed them “human bullshit detectors,” which is also an apt description of Art Fag City. Founded by the indefatigable Paddy Johnson, the blog has been dishing out hilariously irreverent “art news, reviews and gossip” since 2005. Sales of this edition will directly benefit AFC and the independent criticism it serves up daily.

Bonus alert: For a limited time, you’ll get a ticket to the AFC February benefit—The Art Fag City Rob Pruitt Awards*—when you buy a $200 print. You’ll get four benefit tickets if you snap up a $1,000 print. (Date and place of benefit TBA.)

Art Fag City reports that $2500 in prints have been sold, in addition to web donations and tickets to their benefit.

Is there a conflict of interest in an art critic raising money through a commercial website, 20×200, and a donated print by an artist collective? Paddy Johnson writes in a recent post,

Plus, while I recognize I’m biased, I think the print is awesome. I’ve even bought one for myself, because, really, what are the chances a giant limo Chris Burden’s lamppost forest won’t be the subject of conversation if it’s hanging on my wall? As of today, none.

Of course it’s a conflict(s) of interest(s). But at least in our Internet Age, these conflicts of interest are traceable. If Art Fag City covers or promotes 20×200, we can easily see on the interwebz that they have a relationship. If Johnson reviews something from by the Bruce High Quality Foundation, we know the collective has donated to her fundraising efforts. At the end of the day, all of these people just want us spend to spend our money on new art in the world.

In the perfect world we do not live in, readers would pay writers they like directly for content. But if even the Adopt a Humpback Whale people have to send you a fluke ID photo and a tote bag, it makes sense that bloggers would offer physical donation incentives like this.

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