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Outrageous Pasadena Woman

January 26, 2011

images.jpegOn Friday, at an interior design showcase benefitting a bunch of LA-based arts organizations and education programs which took place at a soon-to-be-renovated, bulbous mansion in Pasadena, I found myself chatting with a woman who is part of the core committee that organizes the event and others like it and then funnels off the funds raised to the non-profit groups supported by her team's endeavors.

The woman clearly put a lots of time and energy into her volunteer work, which is laudable. However, I was flabbergasted by her opinions about the staffing of the non-profit organizations that she supports.

"I don't understand why non-profit arts organizations have salaried staff," she said. "I work for free. Everyone who does charity work should do the same."

I was so shocked that I momentarily lost my ability to speak.

By the time I came to my senses, my friend Sarah, who managed to regain composure earlier than I did, massaged the woman's ego further by saying that she had heard about an arts organization in LA that had imploded because the people who ran the organization were being paid six-figure salaries. Of course, this isn't an isolated case, and it fed perfectly into the argument that the Pasadena woman was making.

Sarah, it turns out, was as indignant as I was at the thought that people who work in non-profit arts organizations (which is virtually every arts worker in the land besides gallerists and Hollywood producers) should do so for free.

Very few arts workers are trust fund babies and/or trophy wives. The woman is clearly as far out of touch with reality as her botoxed lips are out of touch with her face.

But it's also true, as Sarah pointed out, that some non-profits are badly managed by executives with disproportionately high paychecks.

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