Nicholas Croft - Personal Story

Nicholas Croft @ Loch Baa

I started funding the arts in New York City around 2008, then more seriously in 2010: List of supported Kickstarter projects. My SSI Disability Income is fixed @ $18500 a year. From that, I set aside $14 daily, every day without fail, to fund my photography and the work of other artists.

Interestingly, regarding dancer income as a comparison, more than 40% of the dancers surveyed earned less than $5000 from the dance industry, according to a Dance/NYC report, “Dance Workforce Census: Earnings Among Individuals 21-35.” Two-thirds made less than $20000 from dancing. The study, which surveyed 1,231 dancers during year 2012, is the first to focus on this age group, arguably the time when dancers are in their prime.

My camera costs $700, so that's not a big expense. My last partner Harriet let me use her 21.5" iMac, then gave it to me when we split up on April 24, 2018. If you run the numbers: $14 dollars a day for ten years is about $51000. I would say $33000 has been towards Kickstarter Artists, probably about $2000 to Indiegogo artists and $2000 or so to GoFundMe art or medical campaigns.

The remainder is for my photo models which I pay between $100 and $200 for a 1 hour long session: Instagram featuring the Portraits. Also, to venues like Movement Research, Danspace, New York Live Arts, The Joyce Theater, Issue Project Room and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The whole secret of my success is that I am consistent, and it's over a long period of time, so people notice. I have never asked for money from anyone outside of my SSI Disability, my ex-partner Harriet's Dad, who gave $6000 to the funding initiative because I helped with eldercare for him and his wife, or my Mom. ( She helped with health care expenses. )

Between 2000-2004 I worked @ SUNY Purchase College, and during my time there attended every performance @ The Purchase College Conservatory of Dance. I continued to attend Conservatory of Dance performances till around 2007, and during that time felt 'called' to the art form by a quickening of grace or presence within while witnessing the dance.

Then, I was an Office Manager for: The Society for Universal Sacred Music. The Foundation / Society President Roger Davidson was a Schlumberger Oil Industry Equipment heir, so he was worth between $60000000 and $100000000 in assets. He paid me $27 an hour as a part time employee, with no dental or health benefits.

I suppose I got the job with The Society for Universal Sacred Music because I had made Pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the Vatican as a kind of 'bargaining' with the spiritual powers that be regarding my health problems, which began in 1984. I was finally granted disability status in 2008 through the professional consensus of three qualified doctors. I was able to work, even given the health issues, for all that time in between: LinkedIn for Nicholas Croft.

My father was an offset printer by trade and I worked with ink solvents continually from when I was old enough to run a printing press to my college years. The ink solvents that the printing process uses are known to cause neurological damage and have been published as so my their manufacturer. In the 1970's, we did not know enough to use gloves to protect ourselves, so both myself and my father eventually suffered from similar neurological issues as time went on.

For my personal sensibility or disposition, however, I was raised in the 1970's when recreational drugs were ubiquitous. I stopped marijuana use around 1980, but still desire the 'buzz' one gets from it. Often one replaces drugs with sex, but I was never really much of a lover with the health problems that I had, so I focused on art and spirituality instead.

For spirituality, I was raised Catholic. However, I have enormous differences with many of the Catholic teachings. Still, my spiritual quest brought me to work in the choral music field between 2007-2008 because the employers saw that I was serious about spiritual practice and because I suppose once one speaks of spirituality, one attempts to be 'in harmony' with genuine advanced beings. However, the social aspect of orthodox spirituality is not always what I'm looking for compared with the world of the arts.

Given a long term spiritual quest, I love when Pagans say 'everyone is getting off' on the magic of their practice: Video documentation of the worldview and life experiences of pagans. So that probably is one of my primary motivations now, in addition to helping others who witness the Kickstarter Project work to 'get off' too. ( Or to feel deeply inspired by the work. )

It is very unlikely that I will ever have sex with a beautiful young dancer with a body like mine, and at my age, and yet participating in sharing the communal energy or 'magic' at formal open dance rehearsals or performances can be a very good substitute for that desire, with the added benefit that it is not socially creepy. This is perhaps best explained by New York City Ballet principal dancer Suzanne Farrell: "The art of dance can be even more beautiful than making love.", in the documentary: Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse.

I don't think I will ever find a more satisfying way to 'worship' or 'get off', so I have been putting my money where my mouth is since 2008 in a considered way as mentioned above: List of supported Kickstarter projects.

Given my health 'bargaining' strategy, what is considered Sacred or worthy might be considered to be 'in dispute', in order to gain favor or mercy. Yet, I find the Kickstarter ethos that I am developing to be a much better idea of the Sacred than what 'Orthodox' spiritual or religious practice often provides through traditional publicly held rituals.

I have found a significant sense of understanding in the worldview of contemporary theologian Barbara Brown Taylor: 'With the seriousness that comes when life is more than half over, people at this stage are willing to spend, and be spent, emptying their pockets in one last ditch effort to make meaning.' I strongly feel that this Rothko Chapel talk by Barbara gets to the essence of my current worldview and life experience, and that she serves well as the 'voice of heart & reason' for my health concerns motives:
Barbara Brown Taylor lecture @ The Rothko Chapel.

So that's my story in a nut shell and I am always looking for fellow travelers on this particular path.

Yours in the music,
Nicholas Croft

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