When Needs Collide

I’m using my blogspace to work on something I’ve been circling around in my arts entrepreneurship class the last two weeks.  It’s a large group (40 students), the plurality of whom are film majors, but there are also actors, graphic designers, arts administration majors, musicians, and others.  We’ve been talking about “needs.”  Required reading includes Anne Bogart’s book “and then, you act,” which includes these two fundamental questions: “Who needs this art now?” and “Who needs to make this art now?”

It seems that great art gets made when the answer to these two questions collide – when the deep need to make art collides with a community’s deep need to have art.  But complicating this exercise is that I also have the class read Maslow’s “Theory of Human Motivation.”  This is the article that posits a hierarchy of needs at the base of which is food, followed by safety needs, love needs, esteem needs, and finally the need for self-actualization that drives the artist.  Many students find these two readings to be compatible whereas many others (it’s about evenly split) think that Maslow just isn’t applicable to artists.  As one student wrote, “I need to make art now because it is what I do.”

Interestingly, in a brainstorming exercise today, a lot of the ideas student teams generated involved food: edible art, a flash mob restaurant, dinner art studio (like dinner theatre only with artists painting while you watch), transformer forks, food paint, a culinary art show, edible fashion, and more and more.  (Other ideas included arts-related iphone apps, a variety of performance venues, and teleportation among others.)  Are the students on to something about connecting the arts to our most basic of needs: food?  Movies have already cashed in on another basic human need: sex.  Is food a way in to new audiences?

(Related post: Why I Like Cooking)

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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