Lakshmi is one of the Hindu goddesses that I have always been strongly drawn to: she is the goddess of abundance, wealth, and generosity. I like to imagine her energy is like the bursting forth of life in springtime, the river of milk and honey that just flows on and gives the most exquisite beauty for no particular reason. The abundance of life sustaining life, and beauty being a natural expression of that. And as an artist, I have been particularly drawn to her – more so than Saraswati, who is more the goddess of high arts and intellectual pursuits – because when I feel myself most connected to the creative flow of life through me, I feel it as a river of milk and honey: an endless rich supply of the best that life has to offer.
In the Andes mountains of Peru, there is a beautiful concept called Ayni. Ayni is sacred reciprocity, living in balance of giving and receiving in the world. In these mountains, where honoring Pachamama isn’t just a cool idea, but an ancient way of life that shapes the everyday life of those who live there, Ayni is a given. If we take more than we receive, we are out of balance, and everyone and everything will suffer as a result. And when Ayni is not honored, there is no hope for good to be born out of the exchange. A dear friend of mine put it this way: when there is an imbalance in giving and receiving, Lakshmi is offended.
Below, I am sharing an excerpt from another timely article that demonstrates the lack of cultural respect and honor for those of us who are artists not only for the joy of it, but as our way of right livelihood. It’s all too common an issue: for-profit-business approaches artist/musician/dancer/etc asking for free work in exchange for “exposure” – and in this article’s case, free donuts. It is only by standing in solidarity and saying NO firmly and without apology that this kind of cultural ignorance will be reinformed and eradicated. I’m grateful to find articles like this crossing my path more and more now, which means that there is a thread of relevance among us that is beginning to find exposure, and I celebrate that. Please feel free to send articles, videos, and anything else relevant to this topic to me here as a comment, or by email at email@example.com.
Jaya Lakshmi!! ~ Angela Blueskies
A first year graduate student in my arts management class presented a paper this week on arts labor economics. Her undergrad degree was in acting so she had never delved into the topic formally. She certainly understood through anecdotal observation that there is an imbalance between artist labor supply and artist opportunity and that artists are often paid less than their peers in other fields (to put it mildly). Among the factors she considered was that artists are often willing to work for low or even no pay because the joy of doing the work is payment enough. In concluding her presentation, she posed a rhetorical question that I paraphrase here: How can we make this vicious cycle of artist oversupply and underpayment stop?
Following this presentation, I returned to my office and this email:
I want to reach out and see if you have any film students that are interested in expanding their portfolio with an opportunity to be our videographer for a day and film one of our [donut company name] Grand Openings! This is a great chance for film students to work with a well-known brand on a one-time project and get some good experience. We feature their work on our official [donut company name] social media pages and possibly on our official website!
As a reward, we give the videographer(s) a dozen free glazed doughnuts every week for an entire year!!! Please let me know if you have any interested candidates.
Note: This particular Grand Opening will be taking place ….. Thank you!
The email was sent to a long list of faculty members at film programs in the region. I hit reply all with the question “What is your pay rate for these skilled services?” To which the “marketing coordinator” replied:
Unfortunately, this is a volunteer/intern opportunity. We will give the student videographer a punch card for a dozen free glazed doughnuts every week for an entire year as a thank you for their time! Hope this helps answer your question!
Craig’s List Ad: We are a small & casual restaurant in downtown Vancouver and we are looking for solo musicians to play in our restaurant to promote their work and sell their CD. This is not a daily job, but only for special events which will eventually turn into a nightly event if we get positive response. More Jazz, Rock, & smooth type music, around the world and mixed cultural music. Are you interested to promote your work? Please reply back ASAP.
Craig’s List Response: Happy new year! I am a musician with a big house looking for a restauranteur to come to my house to promote his/her restaurant by making dinner for me and my friends. This is not a daily job, but only for special events which will eventually turn into a nightly event if we get a positive response. More fine dining & exotic meals and mixed Ethnic Fusion cuisine. Are you interested to promote your restaurant? Please reply back ASAP.