Against the Culture Czar
Post #1282 • January 26, 2009, 8:07 AM • 30 Comments
Inspired by a neoconservative bailout of foundering businesses based on intangibles, and the election of a liberal, sophisticated president with more than a modicum of taste, arts groups are now bum rushing the body politic to make sure that they get in on the action, as Robin Pogrebin reports. The main player here is Quincy Jones, who has Obama's ear, and plans to "'beg for a secretary of arts' along the lines of the culture ministers in many European countries." The Wall Street Journal produced what I thought was a tepid challenge to this notion, coming from David A. Smith, who counters:
Art is a type of human expression fundamentally different from the other activities carried on by people in society, let alone by a state. It is a far more individualistic enterprise and has to be conceived - I almost am tempted to say jealously guarded - as such. Similarly, the cultural programs carried out by the American government thrive on the individualism and energy found in their respective agencies. ... To think of the government's widespread and variegated cultural programs as the proper responsibility of something as bureaucratically ponderous as a single department is, I think, a way to damage the way people ought to think about art.
If we were really concerned about guarding the individualistic enterprise of art, why not just leave it to individuals?