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May 7, 2014 3:23 AM   Subscribe

The Three Languages of Arts and Cultural Funding : It is a truth universally acknowledged that the public funding of arts and culture will cause political strife. Reasonable people just do not agree on this, and can be surprisingly quick to accuse others of ideological warmongering. An Australian application of The Three Languages of Politics [interview: podcast and transcript] by Arnold Kling. Via The Conversation.
posted by michswiss (6 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
For the right, the worldview is on an axis of: civilization – barbarism
barbarism – civilization.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:53 AM on May 7


Here in Milwaukee, the right are trying to tie in major league sports(for-profit) as a cultural institution. They seem to think it is the same as a public symphony, a public art museum, or a public historical museum. The main reason why they are pushing for this inclusion is to publicly finance a new basketball arena.

Now they have a point, up to a point. Many people enjoy sports and watching it is a part of their leisure activity instead of going to a museum or listening to a symphony or seeing a play. Which is fine. The difference is that the symphony isn't making a profit and the musicians aren't pulling in multi-million dollar contracts.

For me, the local art-film theaters are cultural institutions but they are privately run and are profit based. I would never think of asking the local or state governments to help fund them. The same should be true of major league sports regardless of their supposed economic impacts. Culture shouldn't necessarily have an economic impact - it should have a spiritual or quality of life impact.
posted by JJ86 at 5:36 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


The whole 3 languages idea seems like an interesting and potentially useful way of thinking about political conflict, in a pop-sociology way, but I don't know how well it holds up in the details. Does the blue-collar Republican in Milwaukee who wants public funding for his baseball stadium but dislikes the idea of it going to the opera, because opera is for snobby intellectuals, fall on the conservative axis or the libertarian one?
posted by Wretch729 at 7:41 AM on May 7


I was kind of hoping this would talk more about Australian attitudes to arts & cultural funding.

Unlike the US, where there's a lot more acceptance of non-Gov funding, community support, and organisations deliberately not seeking Government funding so they can maintain their autonomy, in Australia getting Government funding is the expected thing to do. And the only thing to do. Other forms of funding are barely even considered.

Recently there has been a spate of arts, cultural, and community organisations shutting down because the Government withdrew funding. Not even some time to think about sustainability or other ways of funding! Just "welp, Gov defunded us, CLOSE NOW". One organisation is spending a ridiculous amount of money rebranding themselves becaus they think the new name will alow them to regain the funding they lost.

Personally I have a strong motivation to encourage a diversity of funding sources: my bridging visa disqualifies me from 99.999999% of funding sources. I can't even apply for semi-nontangible things like mentorships because they're Government funded and therefore disqualify me. (A lot of jobs are similar.)

Yet whenever I've tried to bring this up with fellow artists and community activists in Australia, all I get told is that I'm a neoliberal. For some reason they're not able to see the distinction between "the Government should stop funding anything" and "let's not rely solely on the Government for our livelihood".

In Malaysia if you were producing anything even vaguely outside Government propaganda you sure as hell wouldn't take on Gov funding. In US (as mentioned earlier) there are more options. In Australia? Gov Funding or Bust. And what that results in is a lot of community and arts organisations shutting down, a lot of jobs lost, and people spending more time and energy and money petitioning a hostile Government to change their mind rather than seeing how they can support each other.
posted by divabat at 2:11 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


divabat wouldn't the logic there be that diversifying funding is a slippery slope because it would give the government a justification for reducing funding? More politically potent to say "the theater will CLOSE FOREVER if you cut our funding" than it is to say "we will cut our operations by 30 percent" right? Ups the sakes, though admittedly with worse consequences if they cut funding anyway.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:07 AM on May 9


That may be the reasoning behind their strategy, but it clearly hasn't worked - the Government doesn't give a shit if they close down or not, they just remove the funding anyway, and it literally is All or Nothing. "Reducing operations 30%" isn't even a considered option for some of them.
posted by divabat at 10:56 AM on May 9


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