I am blogging this from Google Zurich. Got here on Tuesday with the night train from
Quite some people warned me that
Anyway, this whole art business got me thinking about art and the weird fact that it is subsidized in almost all countries. The whole
Sure, your average artist creates in poverty things of beauty the world is not yet ready for, but since the world is not ready for them, it is hard to target them with public money. Moreover, the art industry itself is hardly short on money. Art and investing in art is big business. Giving money to artists is like giving money to the shoe industry because the people in the Third World that work for the shoe industry make so little money (of course the money goes to the artists and not directly to the industry, but subsidizing workers in the shoe industry would mostly mean the industry would pay their workers even less.
And the consumers of Art arenât usually the poor either. The rich go to museums and opera, while the poor go to soccer matches. Subsidizing Art and not soccer is giving tax money to the rich.
In the end the argument to subsidize art must be that without it, some innovative kinds of arts would not be produced and the mere existence of that type of art is a public good. This, however, assumes that the institution that decides who to give money to has any idea about which art might be innovative. Governments and government institutions donât have a great track record when it comes to spotting the next big thing of course. Just as generals tend to prepare for the previous war, governments tend to subsidize what used to be hot, not whatâs going to be hot.
Given half a chance, artist will make art, innovative or not. But if you could predict what would be innovative, it wouldnât be innovative since innovation is out of the predictability realm.
So is there nothing we can do to make art blossom more? I donât think there is apart from creating a society where art can be appreciated and people have time to create and consume. And that in itself is probably a good idea.