The economics of art is a perennial source of debate. Proponents of funding for the arts usually follow one of two arguments. The first is that art contributes intangibly to society by contributing a reason to live, as opposed to a way to live. The second is that art actually contributes tangibly to the greater economy through the hard work that many artists do for relatively little pay. In contrast, those who oppose funding for the arts argue that funding is waste of money, because valuable art will be able to survive economically on its own anyway: good artists will be in high demand, creating scarcity for their work, and hence ensuring them a commensurate level of income.
But art has never been a good fit to any monetary economy, because money was not really designed to handle art. (more…)
Recently I went to a concert of new classical works, presented by an organization that typically specializes in the 18th- and 19th-century European classics. The host of the evening discussed the context of the new works, presumably to win over the more reluctant of their series subscribers. His argument was along these lines: We can enjoy the great classic works of the past because they were heard in their time; people learned to love them when they were new, the works became well known, and they entered the standard repertoire. We need to program new works, regardless of if we like them or not, because this is how we create the classics of the future.
As much as I wish this were a sound argument, I think it is problematic. (more…)
Recently I had a discussion with someone at a concert, about whether or not it was good to fall asleep during a performance. She said that, although she enjoyed the piece that had just been played, she was disappointed that it had been programmed so late in the concert, because it made her feel sleepy. So I asked her why that was a bad thing. (more…)
This is an issue I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Can we actually justify saying one kind of music is better than any other, or that one piece is better than another? (more…)