Music wars: Classical vs WHO?

"Everyone has the right to think that their music is best, including the teenagers who hurry through Toronto's Bathurst subway station to escape the classical music played through the PA system to deter them from hanging around. But only classical fans and organizations believe that the quality of their music gives it and them a natural entitlement to the lion's share of public funding." - Canon Fire Robert Everett-Green

Now we have a hot issue. Public funding of the arts. I'd like to hear Obama and McCain talk about that as it applies to culture in the Unites States and abroad. Maybe music could again serve as a powerful unifying medium for global politics.

The only problem would be that everything else is likely to take priority, thus leaving the dialogue and decisions up to "WE the People" I doubt we will do any better finding common ground on the arts than we do with religion and politics.

Again, if we even discuss it openly, we should likely prepare for "a whole lot of ugly from a never-ending parade of stupid"

Good music is good music. Performers and audiences alike need to be open minded and inclusionary. Classical or not, the government cannot and should not legislate artistic preferences.

Music in particular is a live and thriving art form, not something relegated to preservation status in a museum. People everywhere should be performing and doing music, not just consuming it from their iPod or CDs, or even records. Perhaps if we all made more music, then we wouldn't have to worry about it so much. Like Nike says: Just Do It!


Charles Hulin said…
Hi Jeff,

My knee-jerk reactions:

Good topic!

More people making music - very good!

I'm realizing that more people making music has an important role for the health of society and civilization (in addition to the value of a handful of very talented folks making music, which has been my primary focus for years.)

In case any reader is bent out of shape by the basic mention of government funding for the arts, this year's NEA bedget is $144.7 million. A DAY in Iraq is estimated anywhere from 200 million to 720 million. My point is that the percentage of the overall budget is very small.

And, in 2004, Bush signed a bill with the biggest increase in the NEA budget in over a decade. I personally think that's good. (I just came across that story.)

Living where I do, and knowing of poorer counties than ours, I know there is great value in government support for arts because the arts provide a window outside of one's community into other possibilities for one's life. I think the youth in "the land of opportunity" deserve such experiences.

Finally, NEA funding is often seen as a type of seal of approval for independent non-government sources that want to put money into something enriching.

A good discussion would be "what are the ethical uses of music?" -uniting people for good purposes should go in that groupof answers. Maybe also meeting needs or raising awareness of needs.
Jeff Prillaman said…
great response.. so I propose that we quadruple the spend on the arts to just under 1 Billion and spread it evenly among arts institutions of all types all across the country. Classical, and "other" alike.

I think the Da Capo Institute is due a significant share so we can push the "do more music" agenda directly and passionately. ;-)

This could and would enable social entrepreneurship in the arts and make a huge social impact on culture and the people's sense of worth and self respect.

I am glad to see that Bush did some good for the arts. I didn't know that. Good for him.

If it hadn't been for artists in rural parts of VA I would not have a fraction of the opportunity I have today so I further agree that we have to take the art to the people. Perhaps, that is justification enough for federal and state funding for the arts.

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