This Week: Trump, the arts, the culture budget and protest… Harvard ART school gets suspended…MIT’s list of 10 things you need to know… Writers and money – the straight dope.
- Trump Inauguration And Artists: Obviously the biggest story this week was the American inauguration and the demonstrations the day after. There were dozens of stories pondering the role of art and artists in Trumpland. The biggest story was the Trump administration’s reported plan to cut the federal budget by $1 trillion a year for ten years and eliminate pretty much all “discretionary” spending, including the NEA, NEH and Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Phil Kennicott observes that “the loss of the NEA is mostly about symbolism. But along with the loss of the NEH and privatization of the CPB, these proposed budget cuts are part of a nascent but ominous larger movement to eliminate the last vestiges of a public realm free of the dictates of the market.” In another post I suggested that elimination of discretionary spending is the logical next step in the commodification of American values. In The Atlantic Spencer Kornhaber writes that “the discussion around such efforts has shown some of the typical – if muddied – ways people talk about the arts intersecting with politics. On the right, a common theme is that celebrity protests are only going to ensure Trump’s re-election by making his supporters feel condescended to. On the left, cultural anti-Trump efforts are being taken as examples of the kind of bold truth-telling Democratic operatives should mimic.”
- Art School Suspended – A Canary In The Coal Mine? Harvard suspended admissions in its ART Institute because the Department of Education listed the school as permitting students to carry too much debt in proportion to students’ ability to earn after graduation. “In an announcement last week, the Education Department listed Harvard’s ART Institute among hundreds of college and university programs across the country that did not meet federal regulations governing the amount of debt students can accrue when measured against their expected earnings.”
- Want To Thrive In The World? MIT Says These Are The Issues You’ll Need To Know About: “The editors who select the topics are “deeply aware of the social impacts of new technologies and of the role of real people in shaping those technologies. We don’t treat technology in a vacuum here. We talk about how people who use technology have a chance to take some responsibility for it, and to influence its future design and direction.”
- Theaster Gates’ Alternative Version Of Art In The World: “It is a time-honored role for artist as designator, to point at the stuff of the physical world and revision it as art, harkening back to the readymade. But Gates’s decision to ‘bump off from art’ and live ‘in the sphere of dirt, the dirty, the stuff that we think is in the ground’ was revelatory, leading to invitations to Davos and a TED Talk, where he talked about how he revived a neighborhood with imagination and hard graft.”
- Two Stories About Writers And Money: First – let’s be real about what writers can realistically earn these days. And how. Here’s the low-down with real-world numbers on how much and how writers make their money today. Second – we should acknowledge that money has an influence on what gets written. “Once its value is determined by the marketplace rather than the writer or the reader, our relationship to literature becomes estranged. From bloated celebrity advances to rejected masterpieces, the market is more than just a poor arbiter of lasting quality: it tends to obscure that quality behind purely economic motivations. Good writing, we’re told time and time again, is born from love, not avarice. But this romantic picture of the writer, toiling without regard to money, is itself a fiction—one whose roots stretch back several millennia, and whose effects we’re still dealing with today.”