Sunday, February 7, 2010

Slick Deal

I came across this about a year ago, but just re-discovered it. Someone named Jesse Ross set up a site called workingartist.com. Sez its purpose is to to provide a "meager quarterly offering intended to dispurse [sic] small but vitalizing bursts of funding to those who find our sum would solve a surprising many problems hindering their ongoing art making process."

EThe concept, if not the language, sounds straight-forward. There's more, however: "As a stipulation for eligibility to receive the Working Art Grant of $500.00, we ask that each prospective recipient be willing to exchange one of their available works of our mutual agreement in return for the award." Which means that Ross gets an original work of art for $500, an original work which he -- or other unnamed jurors -- has decided is the best of the best. Not a bad deal for him in itself--

But an artist must apply for the grant. It costs $20. So Ross is purchasing the work with other people's money. He's getting it free, in other words. Anything collected over the $500, we assume goes to maintain the site and is not returned to the unsuccessful applicants. There is an out of pocket cost of $3-10 a month for Web hosting. Also, he also has to pay someone, presumably himself, to post the images of the winners and make various text updates. Depending on one's hourly rate, this could cost another $20-100 every three months.

This is not necessarily a scam. But one always wants to know: who is choosing the artists that get the award, what are the criteria, what happens to income in excess of the award? Things like that.

In looking for answers, I found that the individual running this owns 60 other domains and that, with one possible exception, everyone listed as having received an award is someone who had an association with him prior to his launching this site. Just friends helping friends, I guess.