Letter: Remember to value the artists among us

To the editor:

Thanks to Julia Dixon for her article on the importance of creative workers to the success of Berkshire County's economy ("Creativity at Work: Building the creative economy artist-by-artist," Oct. 5). I have been one of those workers for 32 years.

I'd like to reiterate that there is nothing romantic about being a starving artist. Unless you have a benefactor, patron or trust fund, it pretty much sentences you to driving used cars that may not be dependable, shady insurance situations, very little social security and certainly no retirement portfolio. Also, it's not unusual to experience an arbitrary pay cut as well. Speak up or out and you may find yourself with even less work.

For freelance musicians like myself, a large part of our day is spent looking for work and complying with the rules and regulations of numerous institutions. Also, because Berkshire County is geographically isolated, it's not easy to network and find ways to monetize your art. My colleagues in Nashville bump into each other in the supermarket and post office, as well as at established venues. They spread the word when someone is looking for a certain type of song for placement or a co-writer. My colleagues in Austin all have access to decent health insurance through a fund that was set up for them by a group of successful musicians.

We don't expect miracles. We know we are blessed to live in a culturally rich and beautiful place. Our county has plenty of issues to deal with, but it would be really nice if there was a bit more awareness of how these types of careers work. Most of us don't have a hidden source of income, so keep this in mind when you ask us to work for a pittance or to volunteer. It costs money to create and distribute art. When you overlook us or treat us differently than the way that you treat visiting artists, you are giving us a strong message about how you value us. I hope to continue sharing my art with you for years to come.

Bernice Lewis,



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