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We Value Artists

Artists pour money, time, energy, heart, and soul into their work, and are usually the last to see compensation. The paradigm that art is not worth money is wrong. Creative expression is good for society. Art adds value by connecting us to our humanity and our culture. It provokes us to think, feel, and see things in new ways. Art inspires and gives rise to more creativity. We all benefit.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival will begin paying artists to show their films in competition starting with the upcoming 59th AAFF (March 23 - 28, 2021). Along with our commitment to BLM and BIPOC filmmakers, we aim to do all that we can to tip the scales towards equity and fairness for all.

I am grateful for the work of Canadian filmmaker Scott Fitzpatrick who has worked tirelessly for fair treatment of artists. Thanks in part to his efforts, Alchemy, European Media Arts Festival, Experiments in Cinema, Iowa City Documentary Festival, Kassler DokFest, Milwaukee Underground, and San Diego Underground paid screening fees this year.

We are proud to add our weight to the cause and call on each of you to join us in supporting economic compensation for artists’ work in every way you can.

Tremendous thanks to our new board chair and longtime AAFF stalwart Sue Dise for making the gift that allows us to take this important step. We hope to build on this commitment moving forward.

Let us all recognize the value of art and do all we can to ensure that artists are fairly compensated for their work.

"I do not create art; I am nurtured by it. Artists are my foster parents, sharing their experiences in order to enrich my own, shaping me into a more complete human being. How does one reciprocate such gifts? When Leslie first mentioned the burgeoning movement to compensate filmmakers for festival screenings, my initial knee-jerk reaction was, "Why?". Are we not providing a platform for these artists to exhibit their work to the wider world? Is there not an intrinsic value to this opportunity? Then I tried to think of another creative endeavor that I would enjoy without considering some sort of payment to the creator. I quickly revised my thinking from "Why?" to "Why not?" to "Absolutely!" To that end, I decided to get in front of what I hope will become the norm for arts organizations like the Ann Arbor Film Festival - not only recognizing the cultural value of artistic expression but monetizing that value, if even in a most modest way. Here's hoping my contribution spurs others to join this movement, recognizing and rewarding the work of artists who enhance our lives in immeasurable ways."

- Sue Dise, AAFF Board Chair

Additional Reading

How Can We Pay for Creativity in the Digital Age?” by Hua Hsu, September 7, 2020, The New Yorker Magazine

Proceeds from the Pay Artists sticker and Bending Minds Tote go toward paying filmmaker screening fees. Check them out in the AAFF shop.


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