Training can be a place to start...
Vicki made the very important observation that "issues concerning public policy are almost completely absent from arts school curriculum." Not only do things like intellectual property, media policy, unions, performance rights, and so on not show up in art schools or music conservatories, they have precious little traction in arts management programs. I suspect that faculty view consideration of systemic policy questions as an unworthy distraction undermining artistic growth, but of course that is wrong-headed. But arts training programs remain an excellent place in which to insert engagement with policy affecting the arts system as an aspect of professional behavior.
But we must be realistic in assessing the relative power of individual artistic voices raised against the lobbying power of major industries that are dependent on a favorable legal and regulatory environment. Despite the good efforts of advocacy groups committed to advancing public purposes or the needs of artists, the last thirty years (the era of Reagan/Thatcher deregulation) has witnessed a steady shift in the arts system away from public purposes and toward the interests of the marketplace. This trend has been exacerbated by the shift away from the legislative arena into courts, where the cost of litigation makes it very hard for individuals and small groups to play.
We need to work on conservatory and art school leadership on this. Also, why don't the big service organizations that deal with the nonprofit sector -- the League of American Orchestras, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Americans for the Arts, etc. -- take on these policy issues that are so critical to the work of their member institutions?
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