I work in the arts. As a writer, I would like to be successful enough that I do only that for a living…but I also realize that’s unlikely to happen. There is a simple rule to the arts: if you don’t make stuff people want, you will not make money at your art. Bitch about commercialization of the arts all you want, how it dumbs down product and screws the creator by requiring them to go through intermediaries to get funding, but that’s always been the case. You have a patron that likes your stuff or you have an audience that likes your stuff. Anything else is hobby.
The argument that taxpayers should support your product is laughable. If you cannot find a market for your product, that isn’t the fault of the audience; that’s on you. If you write books that are unconstructed messes that eschew plot, like many of the “literary” papp critics love that will be your audience: critics. If you make movies that talk down to your audience or hammer them with a message they might or might not appreciate…they’re not going to spend $12 to be lectured to. If you drop a crucifix in a jar of piss, you’re not edgy or provocative — Christians are the one group other than fat people it’s okay to assault. (Try doing a cartoon of Mohammed…that’s edgy.) Problem: most of your audience in the United States? Christians.
That’s not to say you can’t write something like The Satanic Verses or make shit movies like almost anything post- Fast Times at Ridgemont High with Sean Penn in it, or hang a blank canvas and give it a name like “Emptiness”, or stage the latest Philip Glass experiment in “dance.” By all means, have fun. But we don’t have to pay you for it unless we go to read it or see it. You want our cash, give us something entertaining, as well.