Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Questioning the future of PAC & PAC/edge

Here is a email that was sent out to PAC/edge performing artists from Jennifer Karmin of Anti Gravity Surprise. Seems like some of the artists in the city want a voice in the future structure of the event.

Hello everyone, I'm glad that dialogue has started
around the PAC situation. As a freelance writer, I
can say that the Chicago press is very interested in
our story. Staff from the Reader, New City, and Time
Out have been in touch and asking questions. Since
quite a few PAC artists have mentioned that they're
concerned about the repercussions of speaking out
individually, I feel that it's essential that we speak
out as a unified group.

So -- What are our goals? What do we want? A good
place to start is to make the PAC board accountable
and ask for a public apology. Firing the PAC staff
right after the festival took credibility away from
all of our hard work. PAC didn't go bankrupt by
supporting local artists. They lost money by pushing
expensive, big names throughout the years. Supporting
a festival of Chicago-based art is an ongoing
investment in our creative community.

How can we fix this? What is our plan of action? Our
community's needs should be taken into consideration.
We want support for future festivals. Some PAC
artists have talked about organizing a festival with a
more open selection process. Others have suggested
that we need to put an Artist Representative on the
PAC board and advocate this policy to other arts
groups in the city.

A handful of these issues are specific to PAC but most
of them are connected to how artists (particularly
"non-traditional" artists), get treated. There is a
general attitude that Chicago artists should feel
lucky to be included in a city festival and actually
get paid for our work. This creates an environment
where we get collectively taken advantage of and are
considered selfish for complaining.

PAC has set a precedence for how artists in Chicago
can be treated. Not paying us on time devalues our
work and makes it impossible to make a living as a
professional artist. Unfortunately, numerous city and
private groups have also made it a standard policy to
pay their artists late and mistreat them. The reason
that artists have trouble staying in Chicago is that
the city doesn't consistently offer support and
infrastructure through the institutions here.

Of course, I'd love to hear more people's thoughts.
Maybe we could have an informal meeting for those who
want to talk about what to do next?

Jennifer Karmin
Anti Gravity Surprise




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