Bad Dogs and Worse Humans
Enough about Art and Politics . . . Time for Some Really Useful Engines

But Enough About Politics . . . Let's Talk About ART and Politics


Ah, the happy happenstance of browsing about the Net. I enjoy the accidental symmetries that turn up when one glimpsed link is immediately followed by another that directly opposes it. An example follows:

As the California Legislature slinks away having passed a budget more notable for its sleight of hand than anything else, ArtsJournal is linking to reports in the San Francisco Chronicle (no doubt typical of many similar stories around the state) to the effect that the new budget eviscerates State arts funding. ArtsJournal summarizes:

California slashes its arts funding from $18 million to a token $1 million, effectively shutting down the agency. 'The new budget translates to less than 3 cents per person statewide. California will now rank dead last in per capita state spending for the arts. The national average is $1.10 per person.'
Sounds dire indeed. And for a number of dependent organizations, dire it surely is. No sooner had I glanced at that piece than a jaunt over to Brian Micklethwaite's Culture Blog drew me to this item [CAUTION: Contains coarse and unflattering characterizations of other sites' design], which glosses and annotates a rant against British arts festivals and the role of the public treasury therein by Stephen Pollard. (Still with me? Thank you. Now let's move along.) In the course of that glossy annotation, Brian links to his own analysis -- seemingly dating back to 1983, but still relevant -- supporting a libertarian case that art subsidies are themselves bad for The Arts. The Pollard piece sums things up quotably, guiltily enjoying cultural nourishment at the expense of others:
I’m one of that guilty minority who has his pleasure paid for by other people. So yes, I benefit from all this largesse. But every time I set foot inside one of these institutions, with their self-perpetuating bureaucracies, their now mandatory “outreach” programmes (obfuscatory attempts to show how “relevant” they are), and their oh-so-desperate attempts to be “accessible” (a bizarre aim, since the only people who want access to a minority pursuit are the minority who want access to it), I know that I am taking part in a giant scam, in which a cultural elite extorts money from the rest of society so it can better indulge itself.

It’s time the rest of you pulled the rug from underneath my feet.
Discuss. Then support your favorite artistic institution.

[UPDATE 8/1/03: I checked the Stephen Pollard link cited above and find that although it does take you directly to the post in question, the version you get lacks such niceties as paragraphing. If you want a more legible version, click through to the main page of stephenpollard.net then go down to July 27 and find the "festival" entry. Brian Micklethwaite knows where of he speaks when he complains about the design.]

Comments

Chris

I just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading your thoughs.

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