Making a List

By Lewis Hyde

One organizing idea of Bill's book Arts, Inc. is that our default conceptions of "art" and "culture" leave us blind to and powerless before many of the forces that in fact affect expressive/cultural/artistic life.  Bill and others have offered examples in these posts:  the consolidation of radio stations, the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the Supreme Court's ruling on corporate money in politics...  

To make a list of these things is to come at "expressive life" from the substantive rather than linguistic end of the puzzle.  What are the problems that might be solved, or at least better enjoined, if we could get beyond our default conceptions?  

To continue the "what's in and what's out" thread, then, might we generate a more formal list of the topics or policy areas that Bill and others hope to see come into focus?  Bill's initial post offered a starter set:  

intellectual property, broadband penetration, amateur art practice, media regulation, the vitality of for-profit arts companies, non-school arts learning, Fair Use, union policies, and access to cultural heritage.

A later post adds a few more:  "media regulation, corporate archival preservation policies, revenue streams that flow to the arts industries...."  Russell Taylor suggests we look at "what role an expressive life should have in a developing democracy" and consider the idea that "our ... adherence to 'star' hierarchies in the arts contributes actively to social and economic inequalities, just as in the realm of sports."  

My own list would include:  

*  Claiming the fair use doctrine for all realms of expression.  As many of you know, good work has been done in this realm by documentary filmmakers.  I myself have tried to start up a project for teachers and artists in higher education.  (Funders:  please call soon!)  There's much to be done here.  

*  Designing online libraries to maximize the circulation of knowledge, consistent with current law.  Specifically there are serious issues at stake in the Google Book Search Settlement that is now before a Federal Court.  The disposition of that lawsuit will shape our expressive ecology for a generation to come and yet much of what is about to transpire seems to me invisible to the "arts & culture" community.  

What other topics belong in this list?  
January 27, 2010 11:26 AM | | Comments (0) |

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This Conversation Are the terms "Art" and "Culture" tough enough to frame a public policy carve-out for the 21st century? Are the old familiar words, weighted with multiple meanings and unhelpful preconceptions, simply no longer useful in analysis or advocacy? In his book, Arts, Inc., Bill Ivey advances "Expressive Life" as a new, expanded policy arena - a frame sufficiently robust to stand proudly beside "Work Life," "Family Life," "Education," and "The Environment." Is Ivey on the right track, or more

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