Once upon a time there was a farmer ...
... and he had a wonderful, vibrant garden. His garden fed his family, his livestock, even his neighbors. It was so healthy and food so plentiful he had enough produce for his local market and so his garden even provided him with an income.
The farmer loved his garden and he tended it, took care of it, cultivated it, watered it and gave it all of his attention.
Then, one day, the farmer got himself a pig.
And oh my, how impressed he was with his pig, so new and different from the garden. The farmer became so enamoured with the pig that he began to give it more of his time. His pig grew and got fat and the farmer fed it more and more of the garden's produce.
Soon, most of the harvest from his garden was gathered just to feed the pig. The pig demanded so much attention the farmer had less time to tend his garden ... and so the harvest began to whither and dry up. Weeds began to take over the garden but the farmer hardly noticed because his attention was so consumed by his pig.
One day the farmer was so exhausted from caring for the pig that he asked himself, "How did this pig get so big, and what has happened to my beautiful garden?"
But still the pig demanded more from the garden, more time and attention from the farmer. And the farmer couldn't escape the demands of the pig. He began to loose his joy - with the pig, with the garden and all the good things he once had as a loving farmer.
Until finally, one day, there was nothing left of the garden. It was gone ... and the pig couldn't survive and the farmer had nothing for market and couldn't feed his family.
Thus is the state of many arts and music organizations.
Let's use music to explain, but this is true of all artists, bands, charities and non-profits. In my universe of folk and roots music, our "garden" is the world of songs, poetry, community, instruments, the audience and all that is part of being a musician and songwriter. It is a beautiful amazing colorful vibrant garden.
And there are many loving, attentive "farmers" for this world: the IBMA takes care of the bluegrass garden, the Folk Alliance International cares for the folk garden, South by Southwest in Austin and more.
The "pig" is the corporate structure any arts entity ... whether a national organization, a local community group or a garage band ... creates to oversee their operations. Mind you, the garden existed long before the corporate/business structures, but once they were created they tend to take over the garden.
Here's what happens:
My whole argument here is that the corporate structure of the arts world ... the pig ... has gotten so out of hand that it is ruining the very garden of arts we love. As the business models change and the ability of artists to make a living becomes more difficult, farmers need to reduce the size of their pigs. That doesn't mean the people running arts organizations are "pigs." Be careful how you interpret this. Most are sincere, passionate folks that truly love the art form they are helping. It's the size of the corporate structure that becomes the pig.
WoodSongs Front Porch Association ... a teenie weenie pig.
If the pig makes more money than the artists in the garden ... the pig must die.