There is never enough money in the arts. Equally problematic, the money we do have is not always used very efficiently. In the United States, most arts funding outside of ticket sales comes through philanthropy, whether by individual donors, private foundations, or nonprofit advocacy groups. While individual donors don’t usually have the clout to sway an entire sector, the larger arts funders can and do. As such, they shoulder greater responsibility for the financial inefficiencies that affect the arts—not out of malice, but simply because many a well-meaning initiative has relied on accepted wisdom that isn’t actually all that wise. Now, there are indisputably organizations conducting innovative work. But doing philanthropy well is really damn hard, and the bar could certainly stand to be raised.
Philanthropy is about 90% how and 10% what—it’s not enough to have an endowment and good intentions. (more…)
I’ve noticed that every month or so I run across another article lauding an ambitious group of young chamber musicians for forging their own non-traditional path: playing in nightclubs and bars, using non-standard setups, playing amplified, writing/commissioning all-original repertoire, etc. This is what indie rock bands have done for decades, hence the oft-used labels “indie classical” or “alt classical”. And I think it’s great that classically trained musicians are doing this—what better proof of the vibrancy of chamber music?
But… most of the articles I’ve seen focus either on (1) “Isn’t it great what those kids are doing?” or (2) “Does this qualify as classical music?” I personally think those are two of the least interesting questions to ask about the “indie rock”-ification of chamber music. There’s a lot to learn by taking a critical look at this trend, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to figure out what this means for music and musicians at large. (more…)