The Renaissance is known as the “cultural bridge between the Middle Ages and modern history,” according to Wikipedia, with the genesis being in Florence, Italy, in the 14th century. It was a vibrant period of exploding artistic expression and impressive intellectual and philosophical exploration.
The Renaissance brought more than just new artistic perspectives and techniques. It also brought a fresh emphasis on powers and limitless potential for human observation and reasoning. When such intellectual revolutions catch fire, their effects are felt on nearly every level of society, from the sciences to government, but every flame needs a spark.
The Medici family ruled Florence as a family of wealthy bankers. Instead of simply sitting around counting their money, they decided to sponsor local artists and scientists.
The Medicis wouldn’t have sponsored these brilliant minds if they didn’t get something they valued out of it. Be it a beautiful ceiling to a new church or a summertime math tutor for their son, the exact reasons why these artists and scientists were paid doesn’t matter. The point is they were supported and encouraged enough that they could freely go about their business and do what they excelled at. It is difficult to create art on an empty stomach and impossible when you can’t afford paint and canvases.
No matter how great or transcendent an idea might be, it is nothing until it is executed and brought into the world.
Today, patronage has taken a slightly different form, but the central idea and its effectiveness is still present. Patreon is a website where a few clicks of a mouse can provide financial support to creators, all via monthly subscriptions.
The idea behind Patreon is almost as old as art itself, but its applicability and effectiveness in the internet age are astounding. Consumers are turned off by the idea of traditional entertainment subscriptions, most notably cable TV or HBO, for which you pay one lump sum for a bunch of options, most of which you don’t care about. Wouldn’t it be nice to pay only for the content you wish to consume?
Traditional TV is dying at the hand of the internet. With Patreon, podcasters, lecturers, filmmakers and artists now have a place to obtain consistent revenue, directly from those consuming the product. What results is not only significant savings for consumers, who now can pay only for the content they desire, but more importantly the supporting of creators. Eliminating the cloud of financial insecurity lingering over creators frees them and allows them to do what they do best: create. When this happens, everybody wins.
Andrew Hall is a UF management senior. His column appears on Fridays.