The connection between creatives, value, and survival

A few weeks ago I gave a talk for CreativeMornings on survival, being a child of immigrants, and what I've learned about networks and value. 

I rarely give public talks like this one, but it got me thinking about how we tend to frame startups, founders and tech as creating and uncovering value, while art, music, writing and other forms of creative work need "support," or are tagged as philanthropic activities instead of core parts of both our society and economy. 

I recently worked on a survey in my hometown of Albuquerque that gathered responses from 369 creatives in a variety of industries. 40-percent of respondents listed their total household income as $35,000 or less, with 25-percent making $25,000 or less.

I won't get into other specifics, as we are just putting finishing touches on the survey, but I found that stat telling. A local gallery owner (and military veteran) that I know really illustrated how difficult it is these days to make and sell art/find an audience, pointing out that while there are lots of platforms that make it possible to connect to people across the world, the value of work in the here and now is tricky, and being a full-time artist means you have to make work and also constantly justify it to audiences (outside of the lucky few who prosper via the high-end gallery or academic route, both difficult and long roads to travel). 

This is also particularly hard in a state like New Mexico, which deals with fewer resources than neighboring states, and struggles with a scarcity mindset. A friend of mine who is also a fantastic journalist pointed out that one of the biggest challenges is simply to operate from a place of abundance, both creatively and literally (in terms of money and resources). 

I don't have all the answers to the problem, but I do know that tech and startups can learn from that...and perhaps instead of asking "does it work," we could spend more time asking "who does it work for" and "what would be possible if we solved our society's most pressing social problems?"