I believe in exhibiting even if it is unpaid- it is ,99% of the time it is unpaid- the and the preparation is meaningful. You can contemplate the work, its effect on others, complete a body of work.
It would also seem there is a lot of truth in that you can only get paid for 'projects'. The end result though may not be something you really wanted to do, perhaps a dilution, even with its own rewards. Its a tough balance
I recently went to a workshop on socially engaged practise to see if I could get some tips on this broad subject. I had not realised what ' Socially engaged' practise means until speaking to Artquest who were very helpful and shed light on this subject for me and that my own work carried elements of this; focussing on buildings within communities and the psychology of the society around it.
However, it is a very very complicated area.........! So, as I say , I have gone to a few conferences/workshops to figure this out a bit.....
At many my heart sinks very low , a room of professional funder finders. A whole other genre of artists who understand forms and how to get funding and all sorts of things. Amazing! But I also remember examples of dismal 'public or socially engaged' artworks being chuntered out under this title and funding going to this. In many aspects these ' public' works do not fit under the category of art- and many artists, ( even the ones at these conferences,) argue that there needs to be a new definition of such things
As a painter, it is not seen that your work can be socially engaged on its own, but I know that painting can be. It is interactive, conceptual, it touches people, it makes them wonder, it transports people. Much more so than some ' socially engaged work' which amounts to yet another mosaic for example or work that is actually excluding rather than inclusive because it is over conceptual and hard for non-artists to understand or engage with on any level.
Often these works can be an aesthetic disappointment to boot.
I have begun to try and expand my practise so I can be viable for projects, to interact with participants in an interesting way, getting narratives that actually end up informing my pieces as well. it has helped a bit with proposals as curators also seem to want interactive video /sound.
maybe one day in the far future if I have a hundred years to fill out a grant with the arts council I may even get funding to further my research.....?!But, it has been an interesting journey so far and I have only just begun.