Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Still Looking for a Strategy

Greg Sandow, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says that while the Arts seem to have won a victory in reinstating the 50 Million in the latest stimulus, their strategy, (pointing out how much they help the economy with jobs and indirect spending,) probably won't work in the long run of this downturn:

The San Francisco city government is facing a $576 million budget deficit. Cuts have been proposed, some involving public health. For hours at a meeting of the city's Board of Supervisors, there were protests from advocates for homeless people, medical clinics that serve the poor, and many other worthy groups. So somebody proposed an alternative -- cut funding for the symphony and ballet. The matter hasn't been resolved, but would you like to be the opera representative, arguing to keep your funds, with people from endangered clinics in the room?

And what if those clinic workers and others like them say the arts have a lot of money, and that they largely serve an upscale audience? Arts advocates hate that kind of talk. It's not correct, they say. It's anti-arts, anti-intellectual.

But let's not underestimate how persistent those perceptions are, especially when reality at least partly seems to back them up.


The arts are going to need a better strategy. And in the end it's going to have to come from art itself, from the benefits art brings, in a world where popular culture -- which has gotten smart and serious -- also helps bring depth and meaning to our lives.


Thomas Garvey said...

Is that jackass kidding? Pop culture has gotten "smart and serious" and "helps bring depth and meaning to our lives"? There is ONE SECTOR of pop culture that has improved over the past few years - cable drama. And that's nice, but that's it. Almost everything else - broadcast TV, cinema, pop music - is in decline. The fine arts don't have to prove "the benefits they bring" - or anything, for that matter; it's pop culture that really should somehow justify its pathetically low level of inspiration and craft. Mr. Sandow is on even weaker ground in his claim that, incredibly, we must choose between the ballet and hospitals - while at the same time, he admits that arts funding is "a rounding error, a random fluctuation" on the stimulus bill. Apparently arts funding is both too large AND too small - in short, government funding is just wrong no matter how you look at it (even if you look at its impact as an economic stimulus - surely that's a new twist for a stimulus bill!). The only thing Sandow seems to support is bigger bonuses for Wall Street. Strange his stupid screed was published in the Wall Street Journal, isn't it.

Art said...


Haven't you heard?

"Everything Bad is Good for You!"