I just read the article today about the plight of our artistic community [“Gimme Shelter: Is Asheville’s Creative Community Getting Priced Out?” Sept. 18, Xpress]. I wish to share a thought.
Let’s say 100 artists are struggling to make a living in downtown Asheville. Assume 50 decide to leave for economic or housing reasons. Also assume the population of Asheville continues to grow, and tourism does also. Instead of 100 artists splitting the growing revenue pie, now there are only 50, so each artist stands to double their sales opportunity. Also with 50 fewer artists renting spaces, it is reasonable to assume that the supply of spaces would exceed the demand, thus benefiting the 50 who remain.
I do not wish to see any artist leave, but in business, the cream has a way of rising to the top, and our most talented and business-savvy artists stand to benefit in a less-saturated market. As the supply of art increases, the average artist might have to reduce prices just to sell anything. That is not a formula for success. Can their industry seek a profitable and sustainable level without community funding? We owe them an opportunity, but not a living.
— Charles Peele