Silly title for a blog post. Since, after all, the whole world swims in popular culture. It’s only in the arts that people seem to have trouble with it.
Michael Kaiser, who of course runs the Kennedy Center (and is maybe the most prominent arts administrator in the US) said in his blog that the arts can’t compete with popular culture, because popular culture is more fresh, daring, and inventive.
(Which of course got some pushback from outraged arts people. More on that in my next post.)
And David Sefton, newly appointed director of the Adelaide Festival in Australia, wants to break the barriers between popular culture and the arts.
For Sefton, I should add, this is nothing new, since he started his professional life as a pop music critic. But the Adelaide Festival picked him, so of course this is a direction they want to go.
Which makes me wonder — along with the Tony Woodcock blog post I blogged about earlier, which asked if the arts still seem legitimate — whether we’re reaching some kind of tipping point, where the arts start to realize what their place is today. Coexisting with popular culture, not claiming to be better.
But then maybe this is old news. Certainly it is to anyone under 30. Or maybe anyone under 40. Maybe the outraged comments I get in my blog, from time to time, when I say these things, don’t represent any large bloc of people. Though I still see arts advocates even explicitly slagging popular culture (fund the arts! we’re better!), or else ignoring it, and claiming that only the arts can allow us to find out and express truths about who we are.
So maybe these battles still need to be fought. Any thoughts on this?