I have definite opinions about politics. And I’m pretty politically aware. Heck, I used to work in the U.S. Senate! I may be lean to one side, but my business is purple.
In a country where divisions between blue and red are often so deeply felt, I can’t see that anything good would come of my bringing politics into my business. I don't take sides and I don't join political groups on Facebook. You won't find pictures of me at political rallies on my Facebook page either.
The boss I worked for in the Senate was one of the key proponents of bipartisanship–working together to solve problems. I, too, believe it’s possible to find common ground. But we have to listen. We have to really hear and understand the other side. If we're constantly yelling and degrading the other side, we can’t hear. I do enough yelling at the television. I like to think of this as an oasis. It's where I can just meet and hang out with artists–regardless of their political stripes. It's a place where we all speak the same language or at least understand the building blocks of that language.
The older and wiser I get, the more I believe that we’re all cut from the same cloth. Deep, deep down inside, we are one–whether we want to admit it or not. We come from the same place and we’re connected on a highly mystical and spiritual plane.
I want ALL of my readers to know that I love and support them for the artists they are and the artists they are becoming. If my blog bled red or blue, many of my readers would feel unwelcome. My business is neither red nor blue. It will remain purple.
This blog is about the business of art. Sometimes politics will creep into the artworld (okay, it happens a lot) and I will take a stance, but that is the only time I can think of that I’ll bring politics into the fold. I’ll always side with free expression and public funding for art and art education.
Click on “continue reading” for the text of a newsletter I wrote before the 2004 election, which gives you two sides to the debate as to whether or not you should mix art and politics.
Mix Politics & Art? (from October 11, 2004)
I woke up Tuesday morning to a nasty surprise in my inbox. Let's see if I can briefly describe it (and, yes, it will apply to you!).
There is a business motivation expert that I have been following for quite some time. In fact, I have recommended one of his books highly through this newsletter and in my classes. I've sold lots of books for him! Granted, he doesn't need me to help him sell–he's doing just fine on his own. Nonetheless, you'd think he'd want to keep me happy. But he crossed a line on Tuesday morning.
That's when he sent me an email containing a link to a recent article he wrote about the upcoming election. Was it fair and balanced? He– no! It was venomous. And it offended me deeply. I immediately unsubscribed to everything he had to offer. Not only that, I sent him one of my postcards (with my smiling face on it) and told him why I am no longer a subscriber. I felt that was important to do. I was getting his newsletters to help me with my business and he was telling me how to vote in the upcoming election. Not only that, it was a hateful, divisive article. I felt it had no place in a newsletter I valued for business advice.
Did he do the wrong thing? Not necessarily. He obviously believes strongly in his cause and is willing to stick his neck out. And he can probably afford to take a stand. I actually admire him for taking the risk and sharing his beliefs with others.
I have to confess that I probably wouldn't have been offended at all if we were on the same page. My guess is that at least half of his list enjoyed the article. In such a close election, I'll bet the other half reacted as I did. Politics and business don't always make good bedfellows.
Are you mixing politics with your art business? If you are:
►You might be jeopardizing some of your sales. On the other hand, you could also be attracting others who think along the same lines.
► Be sure you believe steadfastly in your cause and are willing to stick your neck out for it.
►There is no reason to be hateful or angry (unless that's your shtick). Get someone else to read what you write to ensure you come of as thoughtful. Whatever you do, exercise your right to vote.