Forums > Social Chat > Your ethics of performing

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BRONZE Member since Jan 2001


Location: Paris, France

Total posts: 356
Posted:I posted something related to the ethics of performing in Pele's "Bitter sweet" thread (about her dilemna of performing for a big cigarette company) and did not get any feedback. I am really interested in hearing people's opinion about this so I am posting it again as a new topic.

I would like to look at this from the art/corporate/ethics standpoint. Basically, i have been wondering where to draw the line (as an artist) and when it is that you "sell out". The reason why i have been thinking about it is that my group has the opportunity to do some shows this summer, some of them "corporate jobs". We did a big show for a major casino in the US last year and even if i didn't have a problem back then, i've been thinking about it since.
I see different scenarios: corporate sponsorship, participation in direct advertising/promotion, corporate shows.

If a company sponsors a show, that's fine with me. Business money has always been supporting the arts and i have no problem with that. What band doesn't tour with a big sponsor? Not many (Radiohead comes to my mind, for their last european tour in the big tent) because someone has to lay down the cash and record companies don't always want to do it. Painters, scupltors, writers, have benefactors, either rich individuals or companies.

Doing a corporate show is different. As opposed to the sponsorship deal, here you are directly being hired BY the company to entertain their employees/clients for a special event, an annual meeting, etc. A true artist probably has nothing to do there, representing a corporate entity. It's like Sting singing at the Windows XP Launch in NYC (for some reason that's the only example that comes to my mind). Can you imagine the Beattles singing for Exxon-Mobil's annual meeting or Hendrix playing for General Motors new car launch? I can't. On the other hand, one can argue that if you are a performer, it is no different to be hired by Microsoft or by Joe Shmoe for his daughter's wedding or by a Rennaissance Faire. It is your job and you are just doing your job, regardless who the employer is. (this leads me to ask whether being an artist and being a performer is the same, but that's a totally different topic)(Mmmm.... maybe i'll start it on another thread).

Finally, there is the direct promotion and advertising: Aerosmith singing for the Gap, Blue Man Group playing around in an Intel commercial.... or Pele spinning fire for Camel (dont take this personnaly Pele, we've talked about it and i dont like you less for doing it). After thinking about it, I would tend to say that it is not the artist's job to help these companies sell more products. (please note that I am not discussing the ethics of the companies and what they sell - i.e. a product highly addictive and deadly, or clothes made by young children working in poor conditions and being paid shameful salaries - my point is to discuss whether an artist should do it for ANY corporate entity). I love Blue Man Group and what they do, and i think that Intel commercial is cool to look at, but when i see it i can't help thinking "This is cool but is this what they should be doing?".

Any thoughts?


[ 16 April 2002, 02:39: Message edited by: Nomad ]

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13921
Posted:It's simple, really.

I won't perform for people who I don't like.

Then again, I don't make my living doing this.

On the one hand, you have to have standards. On the other hand, you have to have food.

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura




Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:Nomad--re your earlier post, that's right, you can't say that Britney Spears is a sellout, since she never represented anything beyond commercialism in the first place.

Now, The Who, who once sang "Hope I die before I get old", you could accuse them of selling out, for going on (at least) three farewell tours well into their, umm, advanced middle age, with corporate sponsors, etc.

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy


BRONZE Member since Jun 2001


Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Here I go again, getting myself into trouble...

The long and the short of it is this...

If it is a pure art, then you don't get paid!

If it is an occupation, even a part time one, then you do get paid!

I really want to say to everyone to just deal with the fact that others may spin for different reasons than others, instead of trying to push "their" concept of why they spin onto everyone else.

I originally spun for fun, I enjoyed it. Now I primarily spin for money, and I still enjoy it. My style has been affected (some would use the term compromised) and is geared more towards the simple impressive stuff than highly technical moves.

But I still enjoy spinning. And I absolutely love the freedom that getting paid gives me. It allows me to buy more fire gear, practice more often. My life is considerably better now than before I started spinning, and most of that is because of the paid spinning.

Now I'm starting to rant a little, but would like to say that that is where I am with my fire arts. If you feel that spinning should be a deeply personal and individual exercise on the beach inf ront of your friends then I wish you all the best. Just be aware that that is not what I spin for. I spin for fun and money and not much else. Most of my deeply personal and indivudal experiences are centred on my fiance (1 month to go!!!).

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