THE RISK, SHARE THE WEALTH?
Michelle Gotari, Los
problem with museums chasing after large crowds with blockbuster
shows isn't that museums want to be popular. It's that we
in the US have narrowed our definition of success to be the
point that popularity is the overwhelming measure of success.
many arts economic impact studies have been produced in the
past ten years? One can understand the reason for them - if
Congress is cutting arts funding amid charges the arts are
too elitist, then let's prove we're not. Rather than just
saying we're not, let's speak the language of business, the
language of politicians. Don't speak of aesthetic value -
instead back it up with numbers that tell of economic benefits.
this scenario is it any wonder that arts institutions then
place greater emphasis on the bottom line? But it's not just
a financial bottom line either - show me you're doing a show
that speaks to common values, that reaches the everyday guy
and I'm more likely to fund you.
it spell the death of civilization as we know it? Hardly.
Nor are the small serious shows likely to vanish. There's
a place for both - and, maybe the one can help the other.
The management of any regional theatre or orchestra in the
country can speak to the need of producing a balanced menu.
expect this balance to range across multiple institutions
is a bit much though. Even in a highly socialized state like
France, such a system is a moderated success. Better to let
museums find their own places in line.
Cure For Blockbusteritis: If
museums get tangled up in themselves chasing the next blockbuster
show, maybe a New World Order for museums is called for. Maybe
something French perhaps?
Museums are more and more obsessed by the blockbuster show,
the need to program "event" exhibitions designed
to pull in the crowds and prove success. It's long been debated
whether such shows serve art. But do they even serve the institutions
Jack Miles & Douglas McLennan