Recently by Nihar Patel

If a culture czar or czarina, and those under their management, represent a diverse, eclectic group of Americans, I don't see the mark of elitism as being much of a problem. Well, let me rephrase, anymore then it already is.

I do think our current President has enough czars for the time being, and more will just be written of as big government liberalism. A centrist Republican, a Bloomberg type, is the ideal champion if we're talking about the federal government.

The worry is no central authority will make a habit of defending or funding work that some will find offensive. Maybe the right to express it will be defended, but the work itself wont be embraced. Which really gives this authority no real currency with artists. Perhaps this central authority functions more like the MPAA, a lobbying group with industry, not government funding. Though even with the MPAA, that relationship between public and private is too cozy for some filmmakers.

What if this central authority's main purpose is simply to seed this notion of an expressive life into the soil of America. That seems like a more realistic goal. Education first, not oversight, evaluation, or management. That may mean no grants, no awards, just outreach and communication. Can you imagine the Ad Council producing posters and TV commercials promoting a concept like the expressive life? Maybe they already do, but it's just not as funded as anti-smoking campaigns.

I guess the question is, what are the goals here, and what's priority one? To convince millions of Americans that arts and culture, learning to express yourself creatively, are worthwhile pursuits? Are we seeing the current landscape dominated by corporate interests and new technological realities, and we're struggling to make sense of it all? Or are we fighting to make arts a priority in American education in the same way athletics is, hoping the next generation will pick up the baton for us? Ok, enough, Doug and Bill get to ask the questions.
January 28, 2010 6:16 PM | | Comments (2) |
This idea of reframing by renaming has proved to be quite effective in the past few years of public debate. Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that by saying 'climate change' instead of 'global warming,' the issue was effectively neutralized (though even he recently has jumped on the bandwagon). Luntz's website has an interesting, albeit Machiavellian, tagline: "It's not what you say, it's what they hear."

On the one hand, the general public I think would grasp Bill's definition. Most people know that when you express yourself, that means a part of who you are is being revealed either through speech, or what you create or wear, etc. Even professional athletes know that when they get elaborate tattoos that require a degree in semiotics to comprehend, they are indeed expressing themselves. It could be a very inclusive term.

But it may not be the best choice of words in corridors of power. 'Expression' is often used in legal contexts, typically in regards to free speech. There's a danger of using the word with policy-makers. Arts and culture will be conflated with more partisan, potentially controversial work that makes no attempt at being artistic. I think the broader the definition of 'expression,' the more difficult it becomes to defend when approaching those in power. Or worse, it will mean nothing to them.
January 25, 2010 8:46 PM | | Comments (0) |


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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Recent Comments

Bourgeon commented on Scorekeeping, by whom?: A similar case can be made regarding preservation (and was, here: http://bo...

Mary Trudel commented on What to Measure: Hello Bill, et al – Yes art does make better people, participants in this ...

Nico Daswani commented on What to Measure: Thanks for this very interesting topic. There is so much to digest here, an...

Jesus Pantel commented on More Czars Than There Are in Heaven: I had thoughts similar to Nihar's - while we may want/need a more centraliz...

Scott Walters commented on Do We Need Central Authority in Arts & Culture?: I agree with you, Bill. Your description here and in "Arts, Inc." of how wi...

Peter Linett commented on More Czars Than There Are in Heaven: All week I've been trying to pin down why this conversation -- as thoughtfu...

Dalouge Smith commented on Scorekeeping, by whom?: The problem isn't just a lack of think tank and data collection infrastruct...

Russell Willis Taylor commented on Contact us: Thanks for this suggestion -- I did read it and it is excellent! RYWT...

Jesus Pantel commented on Naming and Constructing the Frame: I'm still mulling over the term expressive life and I seem to understand it...

Research commented on Can we add Creative to Expression?: Consider that 'Creativity' is a given; it is common and shared with all lif...

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