From a NYTimes piece describing a recent NYC sponsored educational course, of which Barman was an attendee, aiming to help artists become more self dependent in this age of $1,500 studios. Apparently the Bloomberg administration is focused on trying to keep artists, ergo NYC’s cultural draw, from migrating to less challenging locales. Here’s the crux:

It is harder than it used to be to live as an artist in New York City, given the cost of housing, studios and rehearsal space, and the Bloomberg administration does not want artists to leave the city. Culture is a magnet for tourism and a major reason why people in other professions (and often higher tax brackets) want to live here. Ergo, two city-financed courses devised to help artists help themselves.

“It’s kind of the teach-a-person-to-fish school of cultural support,” Mr. Pinsky said.

The group attending the five-week program includes painters, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, creative writers, actors, directors, dancers, singers, musicians — and some who defied categorization, like Ryan Murdock. He said his work encompassed filmmaking, radio documentary and photography, as well as organizing events that brought together “silent films, live music and homemade pies.” He said he had recently quit his job in public television, and hoped to arrive at “a business structure that will allow me to do everything I want to do, because I’m too curious to pin myself down.”

Along with group sessions covering subjects like intellectual property and Internet marketing, each artist has a 20-minute meeting with a New York Foundation for the Arts staff member or an outside adviser to review his or her business plan. At the end of the course, the students can apply for subsidized studio or rehearsal space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, courtesy of Chashama, an organization that transforms vacant properties into art spaces.

“Artists are not taught to plan,” said Jackie Battenfield, a painter and the author of “The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love.” Too often, she said, they’re “going in circles, and that’s very demoralizing.”

This is the first time the city has financed such a program, though others, like one at the Bronx Museum called Artists in the Marketplace, have long strived to help artists manage their careers.

Most of the artists in the class had some kind of day job. Many teach. Mr. Barman, who has released several albums, does freelance journalism and teaches hip-hop to high school students.

And here is info about Barman’s $1,500-a-pop AudioKetubah project:

What is a Ketubah?

The Ketubah is the Jewish wedding contract, more artistic than what you get from City Hall,
and traditionally framed in a place of prominence in the home.
Muslims do the same thing – they call it, “Al Kitabeh.”

What is an Audioketubah?

Audioketubahs are custom-made song-poems written and recorded by MC Paul Barman.

Paul draws upon his experience as an interviewer for Wired and the Voice to pull out hilarious and tear-cracking stories about the newlyweds. Then he applies the rhyme skills awarded four stars by Rolling Stone and revered by fans worldwide.

In addition to the recording, the gift comes with a hand-written scroll.

About Audioketubah

Marriage is hot?
Perish the thought!
Whatchu gettin for the weddin?
What would you cherish that’s bought?


A hybrid song~poem describes
facts of the day and matches its vibes.
Jibes with people looking for new
yet rooted in tradition of tribes.
I imbibe libraries, only essence survives.
High fives from clients I’ve since Brides and grooms return to rhyme-prints
for rest of their lives.

We start with the date:
Place, city and state;
Perfect couplet couple’s names;
Balance witty and weight.

Fit all kinds of zest in there
with info from a phonerview
after you answer this here questionnaire:

Is it a surprise?
When do you need it by?
Presuming they’re straight,
are you closer to the groom or the bride?

Focus on the relationship.
Will there be a vacation trip
honeymoon? Where?
First dance’s money tune?
Other cultural favorites?
Private catch-phrases?
How long together, how they met?
Arrive at the basics.

Does the event have a website?
What, to you, spreads light?
What’s the color scheme? Red and off-eggwhite?

Turn out the anecdotes
as if Hispanic votes.
But don’t candycoat.
Please share both
hilarious and tragic.
Prepare oath
by third day. Wordplay is magic.

Works on the surface with an accessible flavor
yet intimate references burnish in the next layer.
To comes off natural requires some labor.

As we burn through the years
we return to gifts from the seers.
Perspective shifts towards respective loyaller mate.
I translated boilerplate text from the one on our wall.
Guests are awestruck when they hear words spun from Paul.
It goes:

”We will cherish, honor,
support and respect,
reflect righteousness, justice,
lovingkindness; Protect
beauty and vision
in each new decision”
–and, where appropriate,
this is a good place to mention religion–
”The troots in our innards
are roots of the vineyards.
The oven of time bakes grapes into wine.
Vine climbs above any government fine.
Even above this divine covenant line.
Where do I sign?
We’re one of a kind.
I am my beloved’s
My beloved is mine.”

At dinner you sit at the inner group table.
You need something better than a registry soup ladle.

Prices are on a sliding scale.
I hand-write in ink and send the scroll in the mail.