In today’s Boston Globe (Sunday, April 12), a librarian named Karen Zundel is quoted, talking about why she loves the arts:
“The arts are what sustain us and bring individuals and communities
together and help us to connect with our innermost beings,” Zundel
says. “A new car won’t do that. When you buy a new car or a new outfit,
you get that little thrill that lasts very temporarily, and then it’s
gone. But I think art really sustains me. It lasts.”
Nicely put, and of course it’s exactly the kind of thing professional arts advocates like to say. But what artist got Zundel talking like that? Ellis Paul, a New England singer-songwriter, who’d dropped his record label and instead raised money from his fans to finance his next album. Zundel was explaining why she’s saved up money to make a contribution.
Which demonstrates the truth of what I said in my posts about the arts and popular culture. (Here and here.) In our time, many people — maybe most people, and certainly most younger people — don’t separate popular culture and art. Art is where you find it, and popular culture is just as likely to produce art as the formal, established, funded, capital-A arts. Certainly Karen Zundel seems to think so. Or, to put it differently, if we think of art the way Karen Zundel does, then popular culture (or lots of it) is art.
The Globe piece, by the way, is fascinating reading. And even better is one on the same subject from USA Today. It’s a model that, I think, can easily work in classical music. Get your fans to finance the recording you want to make, by paying for it before you record it. Some will even give you lots of money. Read the stories, and see.