I plead guilty to tooting my horn between the title and my byline fairly often. However, I cannot recall using this space as a soapbox for much more than a pet peeve or two on word usage.
This time of year, artist’s inboxes fill up with requests from nonprofits looking for “local” art donations for fundraising. Phrases such as “100% Tax Deductible” and “Great Exposure” fill the introduction letters to entice artists to donate their art.
Guess what? Tax law only allows an artist to deduct the cost of materials, not the value of time put into a piece. Blame Nixon. Yes, the former president – Nixon wrote-off millions of dollars for donating his own manuscripts to a library. Then Congress enacted a law with some loose enough terminology to include artists that, basically, states creators can only deduct material costs and not a donation’s fair market value.
That was 1969, and from what I’ve read, donations by artists to museums and libraries created by the artist virtually stopped right then.
As a collector, you can deduct the fair market value of artwork purchased if you decided to donate it. An artist’s estate can claim the fair market value, as well. Wait till they’re dead. Oh, that’s fair, isn’t it? Is that the kind of exposure you want as an artist?
On exposure, I’ll just quote one of my favorite memes: “Exposure can’t pay the bills, but it can get you arrested.” Actually, I added the second part. Ha.
While Congress squabbles about how to make it harder for us artists, many nonprofits are helping out by giving artists the option to keep a percentage or donate all proceeds from a sale. I encourage nonprofits that contact me to do that because it definitely gives the artist more incentive to donate.
To artists, I encourage them to be even more proactive about it and approach their favorite nonprofit(s) about being an exclusive or featured artist to benefit both. That’s a good way to get exposure.
If you plan to donate my artwork to a good cause, let me know and I’ll triple the price for you. I’m just cool like that.
How about a real call for artists? The Assistance League® Houston is celebrating 50 years of serving the Houston community in 2018, and one way they are commemorating the achievement is by hiring an artist to paint a mural on their building. They’re paying for it, too. Request for proposal details are on the website front page: www.assistanceleague.org/houston
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the new Market at Sawyer Yards, find him at ArtValet.com