This Week: Major shakeup in London’s museum world… Nobel laureate says entertainment has killed art… Latest study of Hollywood reaffirms cultural inequality… Why did Wells Fargo disparage artists?… Did the Glenn Gould Foundation get ahead of itself in announcing arts Nobel prizes?
- Seismic Changes In London’s Museum World: Two high-profile resignations this week. First, Martin Roth, the Victoria & Albert’s first German-born director, said he was leaving – for several reasons – but one of those was his despair over the results of the Brexit vote. “In interviews with the German broadcaster DW, he said the vote to leave the EU felt like a personal defeat and he was particularly upset to hear aggressive ‘war rhetoric’ during the referendum campaign.” So this is a reason to leave the museum? Shouldn’t cultural leaders work to argue for cultural issues, especially if they’re running one of the country’s most important cultural and historical institutions? Then Nicholas Serota, who has headed the Tate for 28 years, said he would step down and become chairman of Arts Council England. Serota has transformed the Tate during his time, making a transformative impact. Will he have a similar influence on the arts council?
- Mario Vargas Llosa: Entertainment Has Killed Art And Culture: The Peruvian Nobel writer reflects on the audience and what is now considered art: Are his observations the regrets of an old man who hasn’t kept up with contemporary culture, or the conscience of a time when art meant something more? “The great majority of humanity does not engage with, produce or appreciate any form of culture other than what used to be considered by cultured people, disparagingly, as mere popular pastimes, with no links to the intellectual, artistic, and literary activities that were once at the heart of culture. This former culture is now dead, although it still survives in small social enclaves, without any influence on the mainstream.”
- Study Says Hollywood Is Ground Zero Of Cultural Inequality: This is only the latest of numerous studies that analyzes the demographics and subject-matter of Hollywood movies. Is progress being made? The data suggest no. The University of Southern California’s report showed that women had just 31.4% of spoken roles in 2015’s top 100 films, compared with 32.8% in 2008. Lesbian, gay or transgender characters accounted for less than 1% of speaking parts – or 32 out of 35,205 characters.
- So Wells Fargo Does Like Artists? The bank launched a new ad campaign that suggested that artists were the “before” state on the path to the “after” of successful careers. After artists protested, the bank quickly pulled the ads. But the fact that the ads could get through the agency that created them and the bank officials who okayed them suggests a mainstream attitude about the place of artists in our culture. “Wells Fargo’s misbegotten ad campaign was merely the latest salvo in the ongoing disparagement of the arts and humanities as academic concentrations and career destinations, a refrain that is almost always paired with cheers for ostensibly more lucrative fields. … And it reflects a particular American tendency: to place the blame for massive social problems on the individual.”
- Do We Need A Nobel Prize For The Arts? The Glenn Gould Foundation believes so. So it’s launching a set of prizes that would supercharge the award it has been giving to significant artists. One prize in each two-year cycle would be for Artistic Excellence; a second for Creative Innovation in the arts; and a third for Cultural Humanitarianism. Tripling the number of awards would help the Glenn Gould Prize meet its potential — “to become the world’s preeminent arts prize,” Brian Levine, the Gould foundation’s executive director, told the Toronto Star. But here’s the odd thing: the foundation is asking the Canadian government to give money to endow the prizes. It’s a significant ask, but the government hasn’t decided on it yet. So why announce it publicly before it’s been decided?