Can playing with fake money help artists bring in the real dough?

Monday, an Elkins Park art organization will stage an exercise in creative economics. It is a game of financial survival.

For the past year, White Pines Productions, a resident company of Elkins Estate, has held a series of talks about the underbelly of the creative economy — how artists support their practice.

The finale will be a game wherein audience members are each given $50,000 in fake money, representing their annual income. Three Philadelphia artists will each have a financial consultant and 10 minutes to convince audience members to give them some of that money.

“I’m hoping that by having the artists there, we will bring to the fore how personal this is,” said White Pines Productions founder Benjamin Lloyd. “Not necessarily to pull out all the violins and say, ‘oh, it’s so hard to be an artist.’ But to really give a life-like, nuts-and-bolts presentation of what an artist is grappling with to live creatively and offer what they offer to the communities they serve.”

The previous events (called Lyceum I, II, and III) about alternative economic models for the creative sector featured University of Pennsylvania professor Cary Mazer, non-profit consultant Thaddeus Squire, and choreographer Andrew Simonet. Each will be called back to Lyceum Finale (with the exception of Simonet, who has a schedule conflict and will be replaced by choreographer Kate Watson-Wallace) to choose an artist whom they will represent to the audience.

The exercise will address issues of monetary worth of art, its social benefits and the relationship between communities and their artists, good and bad.

“To have this person standing up and saying, ‘I’m forty grand short, and I’m asking you to fill that in’ — that can make people really uncomfortable,” said Lloyd. “That’s OK. I’m interested in getting into that queasy place around money that none of us really likes to talk about very much.”

The Lyceum Finale will happen from 7-10 p.m. It’s free.

Watch a recording from one of the previous Lyceum events.  

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