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October 09, 2013

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Robert

In related news, Talking Head David Byrne gets upset about the lack of culture, or something, in New York.
http://reason.com/blog/2013/10/08/one-percenter-david-byrne-rails-against#comments

David

Via email, Chastity Darling alerts us to this colossal breakthrough:

Hanifa McQueen-Hudson is making a name for herself yet again – by incorporating painting into her impressive dances. She’s developed various techniques – either submerging her feet in the paint and breakdancing on the canvas, or putting the paint down first and dancing over it. “Every piece is unique,” says Hanifa.

Do watch the video. She’s just too talented for this world.

Andrew

It is only in state-subsidised theatre (whether the subsidy is direct, in the form of grants, or indirect, as tax-deductible donations to universities or arts organisations) that the ideologue can hold sway, for he is then subject not to the immediate verdict of the audience but to the good wishes of the granting authority, whose good wishes he will, thus, devote his energies to obtaining.

That. That there.

TDK

It's a pity that the Mail didn't publish Theodore Dalrymple's article rather than the thin gruel of Geoffrey Levy's.

David

It’s a pity that the Mail didn’t publish Theodore Dalrymple’s article rather than the thin gruel of Geoffrey Levy’s.

I still like Dalrymple’s comments on the contemptible Eric Hobsbawm. It gives a flavour of the mental and moral contortions that are so common to Marxist intellectuals.

John D

Fewer and fewer people go to theatre even though the federal dollars keep rolling in...a cultural ground game is being executed by the progressive Non Profit community to ensure that culture remains the sole preserve of leftist ideology

Will the lefty luvvies ever realize the shrinking audience might have something to do with them shoving leftwing politics into every show and it getting predictable?

David

Will the lefty luvvies ever realize the shrinking audience might have something to do with them shoving leftwing politics into every show and it getting predictable?

I’m not a great theatregoer so I could only guess.

But given the general political leaning noted above, I suppose it’s rather like the publicly-subsidised art world in that respect. So much of what gets subsidised and promoted is politically predictable, often asinine and aesthetically hackneyed, or not aesthetic at all. For example, it’s hard to imagine that the good people of Sheffield demanded a taxpayer-funded arts festival based on tendentious leftwing theorising and themed around “care ethics, affective labour” and “corresponding notions of otherness and the marginal.” The highlights of which included an ironing board draped with light bulbs. Apparently, this dazzling artistic feat required the artist “to trespass upon nationalism, patriarchal society as well as recognised human conditions, elaborated with an artistic strategy of abstraction and affect.” Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that taxpayers cry out for.

Which makes me wonder who this less-than-festive “festival” was intended to benefit. The locals, who had to bankroll it whether they wished to or not, and who had to do the same next year and the year after that? Or the two dozen middle-class lefties who took part and were paid with money taken by force, and who didn’t seem bothered by the low attendance and lack of public interest? In terms of publicly-funded art, it seems to me that the public is often regarded as an irrelevance, an afterthought, a pretext for flummery and pocketing someone else’s cash. And so a large part of that same public may soon start to feel irrelevant, alienated, cheated or unwelcome.

Jack

The highlights of which included an ironing board draped with light bulbs.

Fucking hell.

David

Fucking hell.

Quite.

And it’s important to understand the example above is not at all unusual. It’s a regular thing, every year. The previous “festival” was much the same. Some of the middle-class lefty participants cobbled together a rambling, self-flattering and ludicrous manifesto to justify the drek on offer. The few members of the public who turned up - most of whom were also middle-class lefties - were given lots of guff about “embracing latency” and “transgressing capacities.” They were also told, “It is us, the creative types who have created jobs for ourselves by exploring and exploiting our talents to perform small artistic and intellectual miracles.” Intellectual miracles that included two tables covered in sand. Sand and fag-ends.

Again, you can’t help thinking this isn’t being done for the public at all. And why should they bother with what the public might enjoy? They already have our tax money.

Sam Duncan

Here's the thing: the Luvvies justify tax subsidy of The Arts by saying, “We can't call ourselves a civilized country without opera houses, ballet companies, etc., etc.”. Well, perhaps not. But can we call ourselves a civilized country when we have to be forced to pay for these things against our will? Does that not then make us an uncivilized country pretending to be civilized, aping true civilization, a sort of cargo-culture? It's not our culture at all, spontaneously emerging through voluntary action, it's someone else's, laid on the top of our real civilization like fancy icing on (as they might have it) mud. Isn't that worse?

David

I may have to borrow the term cargo-culture.

D

It's not our culture at all...it's someone else's

Ironically, trying to be more like the cultures that actually did value the arts in that way is the last thing on their minds.

Anna

It's not our culture at all, spontaneously emerging through voluntary action, it's someone else's,

A table covered in sand and fag ends is nobody's culture.

Charlie Suet

I think the first comment on this article comes close to being the Platonic CIF comment:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/oct/04/headlines-right-wing-press-wind-up

David

A table covered in sand and fag ends is nobody’s culture.

It didn’t seem to have any redeeming attributes, no. Except as an inadvertent reminder of what happens when you entirely disconnect artists from their supposed audience. Which, all claims to the contrary, is what the Arts Council does.

The normal interaction and corrective mechanisms – including the consequences of zero ticket sales – are circumvented and sniffed at as lowly and degrading. And so the state-selected artists, or pseudo-artists, can expect taxpayers to serve as patrons, whether they wish to or not, while being immune from the patron’s customary discernment and commercial feedback. The expectation that an artist must be exempt from base commerce, and by extension the preferences of his supposed audience and customers, is an arrangement that rewards the peddling of drek. As David Mamet says, coercive taxpayer subsidy means the artist (or pseudo-artist) is “subject not to the immediate verdict of the audience but to the good wishes of the granting authority, whose good wishes he will, thus, devote his energies to obtaining.” Which is why so much of what the Arts Council funds is based not on aesthetics at all but on being ideologically congenial. Congenial, that is, to the kinds of people employed by the Arts Council.

Hal

Some very general observations on entertainment, “entertainment”, and money.

Berkeley Rep is a theatre complex in Berkeley, California, where a fast dig through the interwebs indicates that mebbe half the funding is grants of some sort, where the rest comes from ticket sales. Recently there was a four or so week run---two weeks previews, two weeks opening, then off to New York to be paired with a different production---of Pinter's No Man's Land, with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. All productions were completely sold out. I only got my ticket by standing in the hopefuls’ line for a couple of late afternoons, and landed a second row seat during the final week. So. Live theatre can indeed put butts in the seats, albeit granting that casting Professor Xavier and Jean-Luc Picard, Magneto and Gandalf, does help.

In a number of recent or so news articles, Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas have stated that they either can’t get their movies funded, or have to do it privately, with the blame going to “Hollywood”

Disney’s movie The Lone Ranger had an estimated cost of $250M, and currently has a worldwide box office return of approximately $255M.

The movie The Smurfs 3 has a release date of August 2015.

In this afternoon’s headlines, the co-directors were announced for the impending movie of the video game Angry Birds.

David Gillies

I don't mind highbrow culture. In fact I think some of my tastes would be a little recondite for most people. But this is not highbrow culture. It's not lowbrow either. It's solipsistic, deracinated, effete. You could almost call it Entartete Kunst if there wasn't a risk of being branded a Nazi. We might bemoan yet another movie about Smurfs or Angry Birds but the general public is not being mulcted to make them. If they fail dismally, people will lose their jobs. If they succeed, people will reap huge rewards. Either way I, personally, am off the hook. But if Marylou Ogreburg's People's Bread and Marmite Street Dance Theatre Workshop fails to attract an audience the inference drawn will be the wrong one. Government-funded art seems to be like government in this respect: its failure is not adduced as a reason to stop doing it but to try harder, and more expensively.

rabbit

The Guardian's "Comment Is Free" is replete with those who will defend governments in Cuba, China, Vietnam, and numerous other noxious regimes. I have yet to see defenders of North Korea, but I'm sure they're out there. If a state is socialist then that is sufficient for their support. That they are supporting despotism doesn't seem to phase them much.

I've tried to understand their mindset. I can only put it down to the "fascist impulse" - the belief that the supreme model for human organization is an ant colony of unthinking slaves of the state.

DensityDuck

It's actually easy to understand how these people can be so contra the notions of copyright, trademark, and patent; they get all their money given to them by state grants. The notion that art can have value as a source of income is not actually something they've ever had to deal with; they obtain income from being "an artist", not from any particular piece of art they have created.

DensityDuck

The problem with the whole "how can 90% of the government be non-essential when the country was still there on Monday morning" is that the government is finding plenty of ways to fuck with you just to show that it's totally essential.

Harmless, no-maintenance webpages focused on entertainment and outreach are replaced with "SORRY, GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN". Parks operated by private concerns with no government involvement are closed, and police patrols are sent out to enforce the closure.

David

Government-funded art seems to be like government in this respect: its failure is not adduced as a reason to stop doing it but to try harder, and more expensively.

Heh. Which is why the Arts Council is forever claiming victimhood despite its unspoken motto: We Have Your Wallet And We Know What’s Best™. Or, You’ll Get What You’re Given, Bitches™. And whereas commercial art tends to be corrected by virtue of being commercial – if no-one buys a ticket, it will probably go away – taxpayer-funded noodling and god-awful tat can hang around indefinitely, immune from public disinterest, objection or ridicule. There is no corrective mechanism. Indeed, the assumption is they should correct us.

The proponents and beneficiaries of this funding arrangement will casually suggest that the problem is – must be - the public themselves, whose disinterest can be dismissed as “a failure in [their] education.” And as we’ve seen, the beneficiaries of the current system can get quite haughty and self-flattering if you dare to question their talent or, God forbid, their motives. Such people may even invoke “democracy” as a basis for their claim on your money, the money you had to earn. As if a modest reduction in their subsidy would jeopardise civilisation itself. It’s a standard conceit. Grumbling about the expense of relocating a pile of dirt in the name of art – half a million pounds – is “anodyne and inconsequential” according to Laurie Penny. You see, if we don’t continue bankrolling random dirt relocation “we have no business speaking of social progress.”

And they say this kind of thing while defending what is essentially a caste system, in which a small, remarkably uniform group of people flatter themselves at the expense of everyone else, including people who earn much less than they do. People, incidentally, who have no say whatsoever in how their earnings are being pissed away.

Tom Foster

Rabbit:

'I have yet to see defenders of North Korea. . .'

Really? You know where to look!

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/19/korean-conflict-time-nuanced-view

svh

Or, You’ll Get What You’re Given, Bitches™.

They should put that on the stationary.

Franklin

It's actually easy to understand how these people can be so contra the notions of copyright, trademark, and patent; they get all their money given to them by state grants.

There is, for the record, a liberty-based argument against such things as well. It's chief spokesman these days is Stephan Kinsella.

David

Franklin also has some thoughts on arts subsidy and this cargo-culture business. Some of you lowly rabble are quoted there.

rabbit

Tom Foster:

I kinda saw that coming. There is nothing so abysmally ignorant, misguided, or just plain evil that somebody won't have a go. Paul Watson, I'm looking at you.

The good news is that about 90% of the comments on the article strongly disagreed with it. The bad news is that 10% didn't.

dicentra

Will the lefty luvvies ever realize the shrinking audience might have something to do with them shoving leftwing politics into every show and it getting predictable?

Why should they give a rip about audience size if they get subsidized regardless?

In their minds, NOT being popular is a sign that their artistic vision has achieved exquisite levels of enlightenment. It's the knuckle-dragging public that has failed to grasp its significance.

Failure to attract an audience counts as the best validation. They're just that niche.

DensityDuck

There is not a "liberty-based argument" against property, unless you think that some asbo-holder smashing a window and lifting an iphone is "liberating".

Franklin

Density, Kinsella is a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist and very much believes in property, he just doesn't think that intellectual property qualifies as such, and that the intrusions of the state required to enforce the related protections are ultimately inimical to liberty. Here's an interview.

Franklin

Sorry, non-parallel construction; should be "doesn't think that intellectual property qualifies as such, and believes that the intrusions..." You get the idea. I'll go put the kettle on.

rjmadden

Despite the usual noises on the subject from our egalitarian betters, the ideal of seemingly endless taxpayer subsidy doesn’t sound terribly egalitarian. Or indeed democratic. If anything, what comes to mind is a caste system, in which the lumpen taxpayer is forced to bankroll self-anointed Brahmins, who profess their modish leftism while extolling the virtues of a non-reciprocal and parasitic relationship.

It's called cronyism, David.

AC1

>There is not a "liberty-based argument" against property,

There's lots of arguments about property and the states role in it. Adam Smith even advocated a tax on unimproved land values. After all you didn't create that area of the earth, and you don't guarantee it's exclusivity.

David

It’s called cronyism, David.

On that, you’ll hear no argument from me.

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