Art, of course, can transcend politics, as well as current social and intellectual trends. What is good art…and bad…the truths found there…and whether or not artists transcend the deepest ideas that often drive them are matters of deep debate.
A different matter of debate, however, is whether or not the National Endowment For The Arts should receive fiscal stimulus money because it can potentially stimulate the economy.
OF course, those with self-interest in the matter think so, and the report (this is NPR, with its own fish to fry) focuses on them. They also focus briefly on Brian Riedl, budget analyst at the Heritage foundation who sees no merit to the claim.
The artists could seek patrons (especially difficult in a tough economy), or use gimmicks to get people in the door (as common in Shakespeare’s day as it is now) or make a populist appeal directly to the people whose lives they can enrich without taking their tax dollars (these are difficult times for all).
Another question might be: In what way do those making the appeal serve what good artists must transcend to provide them with a livelihood?
Addition: Here’s NPR’s mission statement:
‘The mission of NPR is to work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.’
But which ideas do they want the pubic to understand? Ideas that hold all cultures to be equal?
America seems to be facing a fundamental re-calibration of its public institutions, from education to politics to museums. I generally support free market solutions, aiming for an open society, and also a society which is fundamentally constrained by constitutional limits. Separation of powers has a lot of good reasons to be.
At NPR, there’s generally support of multiculturalism, diversity, environmentalism and feminism. To my mind, these ideas are usually underwritten by a rather Left-Of-Center political philosophy, one of secular humanism and 60’s idealism for which people tend to self-select. It’s much more likely to appeal to people who share these ideals, people who work as teachers, activists, government employees, foundation and non-profit money managers and similarly motivated folks in and out of radio.
They often demand that our institutions serve ideals that are impossible to reach, and which hobble their effectiveness.
While NPR consistently has high production values and aims for non-biased reporting, to my ears, they remain united by those ideals. Onward they go.
‘Being a leftist is a calling, not a career; it’s a vocation not a profession. It means you are concerned about structural violence, you are concerned about exploitation at the work place, you are concerned about institutionalized contempt against gay brothers and lesbian sisters, hatred against peoples of color, and the subordination of women.’
I’d argue that such ideas will conflict with art in the long run, because they seek to attach the arts to deeper principles that good artists, I think, often must either question or overcome, at least through their medium.
Such ideals do not serve all of the public, but only some of it, and can lead to great schisms politically and culturally, and as mentioned, demand impossible things of both human nature and our institutions.
Is this the type of society we want to have?
As posted before, Camille Paglia is a child of the 60’s, wants better art education, and is sympathetic to themes found on this blog. At least she can laugh at the 60’s squares, even as she’s a 60’s idealist herself:
Related On This Site: Repost-From Poemshape: ‘Let Poetry Die’
One way out of multiculturalism and cultural relativism:
They’ve got to keep up with the times:A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama
A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’