I believe it’s important for artists and art lovers to reflect strongly upon our spending habits in Pay What You Can (PWYC) situations.
Thus, I frequently ask myself:
Do I go out and spend $12 on a meal and espresso, and feel I can’t afford to pay a $7 /PWYC cover (or buy a $12 album)? I think it’s safe to say that most of us relate to this experience. To me, it points to an economic/value imbalance where I unequally supporting venues and restaurants over artists. If I’m paying much more for food/drink at the venue to than to the artists, then I am implicitly putting much more value on the service the venue is providing, than on the work of the artists.
I love espresso, I love eating food, I love venues and I love music. I don’t want to choose one over the other. Venues are a necessity. Art is a necessity. They are also interdependent.
Ultimately, this has lead me to another question: in PWYC situations, how can I equally support artists and the venue they’re performing at?
In PWYC situations I have decided on a more or less equal split. If I have $10, I pay $5 to the artists and buy $5 worth of food and/or drink. This also means that if I am at a show, have $10 and am dying for a $7 beer, then maybe I can’t afford either. (For me, it can also points to a implicit belief that I value beer more than the music…) I can either cough up an extra $4, or buy a half-pint.
The following possibilities manifest: Perhaps I can afford an espresso out, make a nice meal at home, and pay cover. Or, I can make coffee at home, have a small meal at the venue and pay cover. OR! Coffee and food at home, a beer at the venue, and paying cover.
This reflects the surface of my beliefs and ethics surrounding PWYC cover charges.
What is your view? Perhaps you have a different split, for different reasons?