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Wealth Creation VS Wealth Redistribution

In 2007 I was browsing the Internet, when much to my surprise I found a database for New England Arts, about which I had not previously been aware. I thought that I had already entered our business information in all the Maine and New England directories. I proceeded to add our information but soon found out that this database was different from all the others, it required agreeing to terms created by The New England Foundation For The Arts. Upon reading the terms, I found them completely unacceptable as it virtually required giving the New England Foundations For the Arts unlimited rights over any information submitted to the database or “deep linked” to the data base- with the term “deep link” left undefined.

In 2011 I am growing our business through another arts database, which is popularly known as Etsy. It is for all things handcrafted including paintings and other art works. The work that one can find in this database runs the gambit form the young artisan starting out and creating an original product in their living room to artists who have won national awards and been in many museum shows.

Etsy is so far a well known secret, a marketing venue designed for the micro economy that exists beneath the radar of public and private management of the economy which targets concentrated wealth and concentrated job creation. Etsy is a database, of sorts, but it is a visual storefront database, global in scope and conceived from the outset to be affordable to anyone, priced as a marketing venue collecting minimalist fees from those that partake of it. In the publishing world it is a highly recognized resource for ideas and talent, and so for the vendors of Etsy, Etsy is more than a way to sell their handcrafted art, it is also a means of exposure to magazines and blogs- a central piece of the social networking marketing, which is touted as the wave of the future for micro, small, and medium sized businesses.

Contrast this to that other database- The New England Foundation For the Arts that enjoys as its partners all the government art bureaucracies in New England. This is not surprising since the birth of extended government art bureaucracies coincides with the institutionalization of the National Endowments For the Arts. State government art agencies were created as conduits for the flow of capital re-distributed by the federal government through the NEA. The function of state art agencies as channels for redistributed capital has continued ever since. Today it is sometimes hard to distinguish a separation between government, foundations, and non-profit organizations. Just last summer the Maine legislature incorporated a new business classification into the statute governing the LLC. The new classification is known as the L3C designed to (allegedly) make it easier for foundations to give money to private enterprises without violating federal tax codes. One of the requirements for a business to procure L3C status is that it must not “intend” to make an “income”.

In order to have any information listed in the New England Foundation for the Arts Database, one must sign the terms of agreement, which allots onto NEFA unlimited rights over any thing in their database. The language of the agreement has similarities to language used by large private sector businesses such as Google and Adobe, but upon reading those private sector agreements one finds that there are limitations applied to Google and Adobe assuring the user that the company is only asking for rights that are necessary to conduct their businesses and no more. Over the years since 2007 I have written NEFA in objection to the terms of agreement. The phone is answered by voices sounding both young and naïve who explain it away by saying that the legal department just wanted to cover as broad a range a possible (for NEFA). They have certainly done that!

Why would anyone agree to the terms? – First and foremost because they don’t read them, and then because NEFA ties agreement to the terms with access to the inner networks of grants funding. The Maine Arts Commission is now using the New England Foundation For the Arts database to process its grants, which requires applicants to agree to the NEFA terms of agreement if they apply online.

The other night I heard The National Endowment For the Arts mentioned as a possible place to cut to reduce the national deficit. Can we as a nation exist without the National Endowment for the Arts? I don’t know about our government art bureaucracies, NEFA, and the vast network of non-profit arts funding – But Etsy can.

AFTER NOTE: This is an interesting Article on developments in Etsy. When third parties started developing new API's by reversing the Etsy API, rather that suing them, Etsy embraced and welcomed them in a win-win approach to innovative and creative marketing


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