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Old 01-25-01, 08:51 PM   #1
worldwidese
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Post Any chance of forming a Guild?

Street Artists don't seem to fit in any of the existing Organizations. Maybe the time has come to start a new one. As members, it would give us more strength to deal with the Festivals who expect us to perform just for hats. We could also get group insurance rates, and other perks. Any comments?
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Old 01-28-01, 12:42 PM   #2
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This is a good idea, however, to start such an organisation would be a real bitch! How would we communicate with each other? How would the dues (a) get collected, (b) what currency would they be in, (c) how would we handle the currency fluxuations, and other similar problems?

Jim, maybe you could work on this and found such an organisation for us. The group health insurance would be of great benefit to us American entertainers and the group liability would help all of us worldwide.

Bump a Nose Ya'all

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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">Originally posted by worldwidese:
Street Artists don't seem to fit in any of the existing Organizations. Maybe the time has come to start a new one. As members, it would give us more strength to deal with the Festivals who expect us to perform just for hats. We could also get group insurance rates, and other perks. Any comments?
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Old 01-28-01, 03:05 PM   #3
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">Originally posted by Peter:
Jim, maybe you could work on this and found such an organisation for us.
Ha! Is that supposed to be funny? Simply running a 'Free' message board takes up a great deal of my time and I still have my day job (Being a full time entertainer!)

I personally have no interest in 'founding' an organization like this, but I think the idea is a good one. You're right, Peter, that organizing a guild would be a bitch. I think every entertainer in the world would love to benefit from a guild, but probably less than 5% would be willing to contribute, be it financially or organizationally. (I've been in this business long enough to know how lazy performers are!)

There actually used to be a very active Guild in the 70's and 80's, based in Boston. Stephen Baird is the founder and chief honcho of the Street Artists Gulild. I don't know how active the Guild is these days, but I know Stephen is still quite active in street artists rights and advocacy. He gave me a bunch of information and I will someday find the time to get it all online.

If anyone wants info on The Street Artist's Guild or the Street Arts Advocates you can email Stephen Baird: mailto:SHBaird@world.std.comSHBaird@world.std.com</A>

Jim

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Old 01-29-01, 12:01 PM   #4
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I too agree with you guys, organizing, taking care of and maintaining such guild IS a bitch.

I have mentioned elsewhere in this forum that I'm President of the subway musician association in my town. I'm the third President of this association which exists since 20 years now. And, in my case anyway, I didn't exactly became President because I wanted to. I became it's President basically because there was no one else responsible enough who could take care of it and at the same time save the association's and the subway musician's butt.

Sure, at the beginning, I liked the idea of being President. But in very little time, I learned to my own expense that it's not easy to take care of such organization, and that really, it's a bitch of a thing!

You see, when you represent such an organisation, you don't just represent the good, talented, professional performers. If it was only that, I wouldn't mind helping them performers. But then comes along all of the opportunists, pseudo-musicians, and performers wannabe. Nothing wrong with that really, everyone has to get started somewhere. Only not everyone has ambitions, not everyone is equipped to succeed.

The majority of subway musicians in my town are no more than beggars playing an instrument. They are the same guys, who been playing the same 3 to 5 songs, at the same spot, for the past 15 years and more. And it's the same pattern, they are still broke, still living a miserable lives, and despite all the efforst made by the association, their situation hasn't improved. The truth is that these guys don't wanna help themselves. You cannot help someone who doesn't wanna help himself.

The good musicians, those who are professionals, basically, they don't need the association's help for very long. The association's main purpose was to help them.

In the long run, the association has gotten requests from the 'subway musicians' to make changes in the code, the rules. I understand that there is no such thing as a perfect system, and that there is allways room for improvement. Tho, almost every requests that are being made to change things, are not allways to help the ensemble of subway musicians. If the association would make those requests come true, it would make it easyer for those who cheat, to cheat better.

It's impossible to please everyone, that's one thing. Though, when the association makes some good changes that would favorise everyone, there's no thank you(but that's okay, we don't expect that), and everyone takes this for granted. And the minute the association fails at making some changes, it is immediately being criticized. Those who criticize are NOT professionals, they are the same scum bags who don't wanna help themselves.

A very good example that I can give, was at the last general subway musician assembly.
Myself and the association's council members presented to the eassembly what were our intentions in a near future. And we asked for comments, suggestions, ideas, who's in favor and who's not. You know, normal procedures. One guy raised his hand and made a request about something that we didn't think about. It was a great idea. So I said "Allright, I think this is worth to try, who else thinks this is a good idea?"
Everyone in the assembly of 150 subway musician cheered, they all raised their hands, they were all in favor to this idea.

Great! I toughed.
"Well folk," I said "...If this is what you want, this is what we'll do. And we're gonna need volunteers"
Everyone agreed that voluteers were absolutely necessary in this thing.
"So," I continued, "... here's a sheet of paper that I'm putting right here on the table. Those of you who are interested to volunteer, come foward and write your name and phone number on there."

How many volunteers were they besides myself and the association's council members?
ONE... they guy who came-up with the idea. This was my most shocking experience since I was the President of the association. Out of a room full of 150 people, who were ALL in favor, I get 1 volunteer. One person who's willing to make an effort, who's willing to help himself aswell as helping others.

I asked myself a lot of questions after this.
For instance; WHY am I giving myself so much troubles to make things better for a bunch of opportunists who want me to do everything for them but who are not willing to lift their little finger to help me help them?
You know, I'm a musician, I've got my own projects, my own career to take care of, I've got to practice my saxophone playing several hours a day everyday, because I wanna improve, I don't just wanna stay where I am for ever. I believe that I'm a fairly decent musician, but this isn't where it ends, there is more that I could learn, there is allways more.

Why am I wasting my time and energy helping them people, who obviously only wanna take advantage of me, while I could be spending more time helping myself with MY career, MY projects, MY future?

This guy who made the request at the assembly, that was in 1999. Well, he no longer plays in the subway. He's gone elsewhere now. He's got so many gigs in restaurants and festivals and at reccording another CD that he no longer has the time to play in the subway. He took care of his own, and I'm happy for him, he deserved it very well.

As for myself, I'm still President of the association. For the past year I been thinking about giving that up. The problem is, no one wants to take my place. It's too much of a big responsibility. I could just give-up like that, leave the association without no one taking my place, leave them in hot water. But if I do, it means the end of the association and at the same time, the end of subway musicians. If the association cease to exist, it has become so dependable over the past 20 years, that in no time it will become a jungle in the subway, and in no time the authorities will no longer tolerate musicians in the subway. And not only myself won't be able to ever play in the subway again, but everyone else too.

As much as I hate these opportunists, in another sense I have pity for them. These folks, all they've got is playing in the subway, they don't know what else to do.
This has become a social issue. Without the right to perform in the subway, these guys will be heading to a sure death, in a sense.
The way I see this is that I'm just a humble musician, I cannot play God, I have no right to make a drastic decision for myself that will have for effect to ruin the lifes of hundreds of poor souls. I say to myself that these guys maybe miserable, and maybe so, for the rest of their lives. But playing in the subway, even if they don't all play very good, is still better than stealing or using violence in order to survive. I have no right to chose for their destiny.

You see what kind of a situation that I'm in?
This is only half of it, there is more stuff that I didn't say. I'll spare it to you. Right now, I'm trying to find a way to get out of this sticky situation without affecting the lives of others. I don't wanna be a hero, I just want to play my saxophone. That's all I ever asked for. I toughed that by helping street and subway musicians like me would be a good thing. I was wrong. Now I just want to play my saxophone the way I used to play it before I got involved with the association. Those were the good days, and I miss them.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from my experiences. If you ask me, I'd say that street performing is an adventure, and adventure that's all about freedom. Freedom is the best thing ever, it's perfect. Why try to improve perfection?

Anyway, sorry to pour my heart like this. I don't wanna hog this forum topic. I'll let you guys say what you have to say about it.

Cheerz!
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Old 01-30-01, 06:57 AM   #5
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BFlat, that was an amazing letter. No one can deny that you have put your heart and soul into your organization. I hope things pan out for you in the long run.

It seems reasonable to me that your Guild should be able to expect 'donations' of both time and money from each of its members in order to survive and thrive. How else do you get things done?

What is your current yearly membership fee? Do you feel it is it reasonable? Does the Guild pay you a salary or is your time volunteered?

How much latitude do you have as president to change existing rules or to implement new ones? What about requiring, making mandatory, certain methods of participation in order to retain a membership? Something like two hours per month 'volunteerism' or a fee of $50.00 if you refuse the time allotment - and a loss of membership if you refuse them both?

And from your letter you seem to have some kind of situation brewing with the musicians of your Guild of lesser talent or motivation. Why do you allow them in in the first place? What are your requirements for membership based on talent? Are there any? A Guild is a private organization and it is allowed to have rules covering conduct and minimum talent levels that would otherwise be frowned upon in the more open and forgiving street environment. A Guild is allowed to create a reputation of excellence - something intangible but extremely important nevertheless - which gives the Guild and its loyal members a better collective reputation. And this will mean more respect with City officials and better gigs and more money in the future. Sometimes this can only happen thru more careful selection and weeding-out, but that is perfectly okay in this situation.

So my .02 is that you should first make sure that enough money is coming in for the Guild to pay you a wage. Exactly how much is another issue altogether, but raise the monthly dues if need be. If there aren't any monthly dues, then make some: $10 to 20.00 dollars per month. Then you should begin to cull out any current member who is unwilling to 'volunteer' at least 2 hours per month, or pay a $50.00 fee in lieu of this monthly allotment. And don't be afraid to increase and/or create the membership fee for joining your (soon to be very prestigious) Guild, either. Double the fee if need be, in order to make certain that the Guild is capable of supporting itself and to keep out any deadbeats who only want a free ride on your coat tails. It's amazing the attention you will suddenly get from these people when their checkbook is involved!

Whew! That winded me... time for my afternoon nap. Hope some of this helps. All the best!
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Old 01-30-01, 07:24 AM   #6
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Might as well teach a fish to ride a bicycle!
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Old 01-30-01, 08:07 AM   #7
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Too easy! What kind of fish? What style of bicycle? How much time will I have? Some of us happen to enjoy challenges, especially if they can be turned around to help others -- and what little fishie wouldn't like to learn how to ride a bike? (BTW, nice display of compassion towards BFlat)
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Old 02-22-01, 04:38 PM   #8
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I've been thinking a lot about this over the last few years. It seems to me that the best way to get involvement is to actually offer things of great value to the members. I think a certain # of hours per month OR an annual fee should automatically weed out the non-serious types. That way, people who truly take it seriously will have incentives to join & become involved. So, the question is out there -- what would be valuable enough to us to get us off our lazy butts and organize?
My list might include:
- legal advice/advocacy
- health groups
- annual festivals where we can share with each other our talents (workshops, performances, late night hang outs, etc)
- creating an organized circuit of pitches that performers can travel
- training new buskers with mentorships/etc.

anyone else care to comment/add to the list?


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Old 02-26-01, 01:38 PM   #9
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BFlat,

Yes, a very touching letter. I feel for you and your situation. I echo the sentiment of Chance: you make them pay for membership, they will have more respect for the organization. Have them put their money where their mouth is.

Recently, I rented a theatre to do my comedy/juggling show and in order to defray costs, I charged people for admission. I discovered that the audience that paid me in advance (for tickets) were much more alive, respectful and responsive than an audience on the street.

Although a large number of the 200 people there were people that knew me or my opening act, there were a number of people who came because of the advertising.

If they think it's free, it will seem like there's no value attached to it. If they have to pay for it, or work for it, they will respect it a lot more. Now collecting dues is a big job so it probably means hiring a treasurer in your case. And it sounds like it might be tough to find someone you'd trust handling the money...

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Old 04-12-01, 02:21 AM   #10
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It's tuff cuz this idea runs head-on into the large and growing social stratification in our
society.The growing immiseration of the masses
begins to blur the line between begging with
a shtick,and busking with hat lines.All of us
need to pay our landlords just the same.I think a bigger,bolder plan is needed to address this,the root of our problems.Art is
creativity without purpose,and propaganda is creativity with purpose.
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Old 04-13-01, 11:04 AM   #11
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We could always have a conferance.
I would go.
The biggest benifit is that we would put on the best show most ptople would see for years to come.
Loction, Sponsorship, and people to show up?

Somebody just has to take the bull by the horns ( too much time in Texas).

Of course...I wouldnt be supprised that the reason most of us found this art form is because we did not want to have to be so organised or official....eye, there is the rub.

Juggling groups have success...and some Magic org's as well....the rest of us???

Id be glad to meet and hang with anybody, anytime...street, bar, basement to share and rap about the street and gigs.

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Old 04-13-01, 11:13 PM   #12
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I like Circus Minimus ideas, and hope that there is someone out there who might like to get something set up.We could all pay a membership fee, Hopefully a small one, to compensate this person for his time, and to start a fund to help performers in need. Judging by some of the recent posts re Insurance, we could also get group insurance. Perhaps the payment could be set up along general internet Customer Service lines - if you have a problem, you pay your money up front, and then get the service. Another idea would be to seek out an attorney interested in the arts, or am I dreaming? who would be willing to answer simple legal questions for us. Any takers? Kelly.
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