A Public Conversation Among People Who Care
March 06, 2005Creating Value
I was delighted to see that Kevin McCarthy and his co-authors have once again got all of us talking and sometimes arguing about what we care about the most -- the meaning and value of the arts.
It is right to say that works of genius create their own audiences, but not without help in many cases. In an era when investment in long term benefits for the public good is unfashionable, such as research that may not commercially pay off for 20 years and so must be funded by government, or education programs that help children who will not be able to vote for some time, trying to push the intrinsic benefits of the arts is a tough job. And this is the reason that we should all be doing it.
The economic arguments alone simply do not hold up. If they are a useful starting point for conversation, by all means we should use them. But they should never be the reason that we give for doing the work that we do -- as the report acknowledges, some of these benefits could be achieved by a more direct route. In addition, being prepared to discuss why the arts improve the quality of lives, why they create societal value, should not be a matter of whining or banging the drum. It should be part of the lexicon of every arts leader who wants to have a place at the civic table.
Posted by rtaylor at March 6, 2005 08:48 PM