Arden Sherman May 27, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Hey Paddy, Hey Whitney: I understand it may appear somewhat mind-blowing that Creative Time raised so much money at their annual gala and yet they are still calling out for volunteers to assist with the Kara Walker exhibition. But since neither of you have visited the show YET (and I encourage you to do so), please note that the volunteers are acting as docents — just as like in any museum or kunsthalle — and not as security (there are professional security guards on site). The volunteer effort has been tremendous and should be commended, not criticized. It is truly a testament to Kara Walker and to Creative Time that all these dedicated New Yorkers are GIVING their time to keep such an important exhibition running smoothly, the artworks safe, the audience informed, and it’s all FREE to the public. As far as the fundraiser goes, those funds make up a large part of CT’s operating budget so more prolific exhibitions like this one can be organized in the future. Thanks and please come visit the show. -Arden

Paddy Johnson May 27, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Hi Arden,

I’m not sure I understand the connection your making between going to visit the show, and the staffing issues around the show. Will Kara Walker’s art help us understand why Creative Time isn’t paying their employees if we do go to the show? We certainly hope that the volunteers will help speed the wait time for those wanting to get in to see the show. I know Whitney didn’t love it.

It seems the underlying belief espoused here is that more art is better and that even the poorest of us should make sacrifices so that Creative Time can showcase even more art. (FREE isn’t unusual in this city: Note that Gagosian, David Zwirner, and Hauser & Wirth have found
ways to pay their staff, and their exhibitions are free to the public as
well.) I just don’t believe that. The city is full of underpaid and over worked individuals and it’s our responsibility, as cultural workers to try and compensate them fairly. Creative Time, in particular, needs to think about how they can launch the exhibitions they want to and pay the staff they need support those shows. We already saw this issue with their Susan Lacy project last year. Did the organization take nothing from that outcry?

Arden Sherman May 27, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Hi again Paddy,
I was simply clarifying that the volunteers are not acting as security guards and they are VOLUNTARY–they come and go at their own will (it was the same situation with the Suzanne Lacy project). Also, the examples you listed for free exhibitions are all commercial galleries and heck, we know those institutions function under much different financial circumstances than not-for-profits like Creative Time. As far as your position on underpaid and over-worked art workers, that’s a beast I fully agree with you on and happy to dive further into that topic with you over coffee. See ya soon!

Paddy Johnson May 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Creative Time has a 3.5 million dollar operating budget. Their business model obviously isn’t comparable to Zwirner or Gagosion’s, but their financial position is not dire. Certainly they are in a position where they can afford to hire a little extra help if they were to work it into their budget.

Alex Teplitzky May 27, 2014 at 2:09 pm

As someone who works in the arts, I appreciate maximum paid positions from arts organizations. However, I volunteered at Domino and was only too happy to support that project – especially as someone who does not have enough money to donate to nonprofits. To be honest, I wish there were MORE public art installations that needed volunteers. I was also happy to volunteer my services for Art F City. #SupportTheArts

WhitneyKimball May 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm

But Alex, I think the complaints from some of Suzanne Lacy’s volunteers was that it’s passionate people like you and me whose labor is systematically unaccounted for. I think it’s understandable to ask your friends for help with things like fundraisers (which, thank you), but Creative Time often runs its regular annual programming with volunteers. In the next round of fundraising, why can’t this labor be accounted for as part of the baseline cost of programming on this scale?

Alex Teplitzky May 27, 2014 at 3:28 pm

You may be right that they should account for labor. However, personally, I wouldn’t apply for a job to help them doing the same thing I did last weekend as a volunteer. I found my experience to be enriching and I was glad to support the arts. It was also the best way to see the exhibit (before and after it’s open to the public), so it was also rewarding.

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