Too much art?

Thanks to Sanden Totten at MPR’s The Loophole for pointing me to these two pieces:

Not a great time for non-profits (American Public Media’s Marketplace)

“[Stacy] Palmer says arts organizations suffer most during tough times. Donors tend to favor social organizations — groups they feel are helping the most in need.”


Asking the unpopular question–is there just too much art?

Arts organizations will fail and close as contributed income dries up, and earned revenue weans. Although tragic for the artists connected to these organizations, the unpopular question that continues to emerge with my colleagues from around the nation is: are the closings of these organizations necessarily a bad thing? […] the supply and demand conundrum that many communities face can also be solved by eliminating the excess supply. This crisis will create a de facto “survival of the fittest” culture for arts organizations. Those organizations that are financially sound and create consistently good product might feel a pinch but should weather the storm.”

This is scary, scary stuff to me. And I’m not really in the right mindset at the moment to tackle it as fully as I’d like.

I understand the supply and demand argument. I’ve thought about this myself, especially using Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a model where as Totten says “…there is a gallery, sculpture or theater on almost any corner.”

Forgive me for using economic terms here that I really have no business using, but doesn’t everyone talk about diversifying in a time of economic crisis? That’s something that the MSP arts culture has going for it. We’ve got just about every shape, form and size of arts organization you could ask for–ready to provide whatever service you need. I’m afraid that allowing a “survival of the fittest” situation would simply give the upper-hand to the bigger organizations. And frankly, the Walker, the Guthrie and the Minnesota Orchestra are a whole lot better off with the Soap Factory, Ten Thousand Things and Zeitgeist. (Maybe I’m wrong about that, but it’s an argument I want to pursue further.)

Isn’t the best way to head into these “troubling times” to actually work together and share our resources? Be bold and daring with the work that we have to do knowing that there is a strong community to fall back on?

Ok. Go ahead, Michele Bachmann. Call me a socialist.


~ by ohactually on November 20, 2008.

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