Art Suffers the Moment Other People Start Paying for It

With the Brooklyn Wind Symphony's performance at the Midwest Band Clinic receding further into the past, the words that might describe the experience are beginning to come. This Brain Pickings post—“How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love”—from two years ago is helping to give shape to my understanding. There's this particularly striking remark by cartoonist Hugh MacLeod: “Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it.”

I speak out of personal experience, from a time when I tried to make at least part of my living as a musician. The business end sapped the fun out of it. There’s something about reversing the financial equation that contributes to a feeling of deep satisfaction. Even though the members of the Metropolitan Music Community’s ensembles aspire to play at a professional level, we are amateurs in the literal sense of the word: We do it for love.

We pay dues, we make a great sacrifice of our time, and, during this concert cycle, we pushed ourselves extra hard to achieve a big goal. The audience’s response was immensely gratifying, but it was not more important than sharing in the communal task of working hard to do something well for its own sake.

This is what it was like for me. What about you? BKWS members are invited to share any thoughts on the Chicago experience below in the comments.

Posted on January 1, 2014 .