Let’s be honest, times are tough for many in the design business right now, and we have all heard about the fiscal stimulus package going for shovel ready projects like roads and bridges, but The Atlantic Monthly has a cover story this month, called 15 Ways to Fix the World, with a better idea.
The seventh idea on the list is called Pay the Artists. Listen to the reasoning in the article written by Felix Salmon, its great,
“Arts spending is fantastic at creating employment: for every $30,000 or so spent on the arts, one more person gets a job, compared with about $1 million if you’re building a road or hospital.”
In fact the latest Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers have the median salary of graphic designers at $42,400. You could employ a lot of artists and designers for peanuts by Washington standards.
As I mention in my post on package design of the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project employed over 5,000 artists, and they did some amazing things while the government paid them between $23 and $35 a week. This doesn’t sound like a fortune, but I suspect the artists were glad to have it.
And here is a list of some of the artists supported by this program, Thomas Hart Benton, Francis Criss, Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, Dorothea Lange, Jan Matulka, Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, Ben Shahn, and the list goes on.
I’m going to get in touch with the AIGA and see if we can start a movement to put artists and designers to work with Federal Funds. Stay tuned.