The future of an artist often seems grim. In today's society, the choice to make a living, even partially, off of one's art (whether it be writing, painting, making music, filmmaking, etc.) is a frightening one. It's hard to get your name out there, and it's hard to find the kind of work that one can both enjoy and pay the bills with. Personally, I face this kind of future. After my first semester in college, I decided after a lot of tears and misery that I no longer wanted to go to medical school and that my best option would be to create a future around writing. My mother was none too pleased, and was-- and still am-- terribly hopeful and terribly frightened of what my future holds. Will I be able to pay the bills? Will I be able to be independent (my boyfriend is planning on being a lawyer, but what happens if our future as a couple is not what we dream it to be)? Will I even be able to get a writing career off the ground in an age where the print media is floundering? What are my options, anyway? The life of an artist is difficult and uncertain.
Sydnie at Take Me Out to the Runway wrote about an amazing project yesterday. It's called the 823 Key Project.
What is it?
Here's the deal: the project is selling a huge amount of skeleton key necklaces (which are awesome); there are 823 of them for every letter of the alphabet. When someone purchases one of these unique vintage key necklaces (the keys date from 1830 to 1940, and you'll receive one at random) for $75, that money goes into the 823 Project fund.
What is the fund itself?
At the 823 site, you can apply for a grant. Whatever your particular brand of art is, you're eligible-- just fill out the form that's available for download. Tell the good people at 823 why you deserve the award and how you'll make the world better through your art. Simple as that. The application will be available for download once the first round of keys is sold.
Once all 823 keys are sold for a letter (823 for A, for B, etc. etc. etc.), a board chooses one (or more "if grant applicants don't use all of the allotted money") of the grant applicants to receive up to $25,000 that will majorly help to open the door to their dream career. There will be about 26 grants awarded (one for each letter).
I commented on Sydnie's post just a few minutes ago, saying that I didn't feel I have the cash to purchase a key. I've been thinking about that. I've been thinking about what my $75 could mean to someone (maybe even myself if I were to apply and be chosen). I've been thinking about how that money-- which is coincidentally the exact amount of money I made at work last night-- could mean a little more certainty and encouragement to someone who faces the same kind of cruel, uncertain world that I do. Without people willing to purchase these keys, those grants will never be given, and that would be like telling those artists that their talent and vision is not enough.
I think that it's terribly important that these grants be given out, but it's up to people like us to make that happen. If you have the $75 to spare, buy a key. If you buy a key, you get beautiful, unique piece of jewelry to wear and the piece of mind that you did something for the arts, which are so often left in the dust of more "traditional" lifestyles.
So basically what I want to say is this: buy a key for yourself, for your friends, for all the artists out there who want to live the life they dream of.
At the very least, I strongly encourage you all to tell your friends and to blog about the project to help get the word out. It's a great cause.
P.S. I did end up purchasing one of the 823 keys for myself. I'll show it to y'all once it comes in the mail!