In which I return to the neo-patronage model to pursue my creative endeavors and assist others with their own.
Wait… What is Neo-Patronage?
To understand neo-patronage, let’s define the concept of patronage.
Patronage is the act of one individual or organization providing financial support for the creative efforts of another.
Most folks look to the patronage systems of the medieval or Renaissance eras as the most familiar example of this model. William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, and many other authors, musicians and artists whose work you’ve seen in museums, studied in school, or watched adaptations of on public television or the BBC benefited from the patronage of royalty, the clergy, or merchant princes.
Classical patronage was defined by one person or group with very deep pockets supporting creators with empty or very-much-less-full pockets. Sometimes, the patronage came with conditions that restricted the kinds of art the creator could make.
Neo-patronage also involves providing creators with financial support that enables them to focus their energies on their creative endeavors.
Unlike the classical patronage model of one patron giving a large amount of money to a creator, under neo-patronage the creator receives many gifts in small amounts from many patrons, over time.
There are many advantages over the classical model:
- Support of the arts is not limited to those with lots of money. Anyone who can spare a few dollars a month can be a patron.
- The relationship between the patron and the creator is one of peers in a community, rather than the grossly unbalanced classical model. This is a big one for me.
- Creators can afford to be patrons themselves, thereby “paying it forward” and expanding the neo-patronage economy.
In the Conversation Age, the website and service Patreon is synonymous with neo-patronage. Patreon makes it easy for patrons to pledge monthly ongoing monetary support to a creator in exchange for perks, benefits, and rewards from that creator.
I learned about Patreon way back in November of 2013. I maintained a Patreon page from late 2014 through August of 2020. Throughout that time, I never quite knew what to do with it. Regardless, and remarkably, several patrons provided stalwart support through much of that time.
Earlier in 2022, I found myself thinking about Patreon again. In June, I quietly re-launched a Patreon community.
For a variety of reasons, according to any number of criteria, this was an audacious act.
Building the House in Which I Want to Live
I’m far from a prolific creator, and revenue from my creations amounts to a very small percentage of my income. I’m much more successful as one who helps other authors and creators.
I’m prone (as are most of us(?)) to investing my available time, energy, and resources in day-to-day concerns and day-after-tomorrow worries. The result: most days, most weeks, most months, my long-term creative goals are assigned… even longer terms.
Thing is, deep in the weeds of my fifties, I know a few things:
- Left to myself, anxiety, mild depression, and that tendency to focus on the immediate keep me from doing the things I love that are emotionally and creatively sustaining. I’m better motivated to create out of obligation to, and the expectations of, others.
- I’m happiest when I’m following my creativity according to the whims of my curiosity and imagination.
- Objectively speaking, I’m very good at making things; specifically: telling stories.
- There’s only so much time to be alive.
Along the way to Now, I managed to codify my mission as an artist:
“I believe in the interconnected and complimentary relationship between artist and those who experience art. My over-arching mission is to add to the culture, to the wellspring of human experience, both by telling stories and making things, and by helping other people bring their creative endeavors to fruition and to the world.”
Put it all together: I have value to add to the world through my creativity, and wisdom to offer in the service of others who would add creative value to the world themselves… but I can’t do both of those things without the support of people who believe in me and my mission.
So even though I am far from having the participation of enough people to do what I need to do, I’ve built the means to facilitate that support and build that community.
That was the Why. Here is the Ask.
I’m not just looking for people who will help me build the creative life I want to live.
I’m looking for people who want to live a creative life with me. Together.
The house is built. Time to fill it up.