Excerpt: culture in which everyone has a stake

March 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

“The culture in which everyone has a stake would be a democratic culture. Although artists could no longer presume to have a privileged place just by virtue of being artists, they also would no longer have to pretend that their contributions are inevitably marginal or misunderstood. Moreover, the practices and qualities people learn through proper engagement with the arts would promote the critique, creativity, and dialogue that nurture democratic dispositions. Emphasis must be placed on “proper,” however, to counteract the mistaken notion, all too common among educators and arts advocates, that exposure to the arts will in and of itself make people better citizens and community members. Hypercommercialism and performance fetishism do not stop at the museum portal or the schoolhouse door. Their effects make it difficult for cultural audiences and producers to pursue the creative tension of artistic authenticity and social responsibility in which practices and qualities of freedom can flourish.”

* Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Art in Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture” p. 291. Cambridge University Press 2011.

Excerpt: challenge the sources of systemic pressure

February 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Sometimes such tensions create possibilities for significant change. …. For these efforts to be worthwhile, they need normative orientations that challenge the sources of systemic pressure. To resist hypercommercialization and performance fetishism, arts organizations need to maintain their communicative freedom, protected and supported by states that pursue public justice. To counteract exclusion and balkanization, such organizations need to give primacy to cross-cultural recognition, opening their governance and administration to the primary participants in cultural practices and embracing a civil-societal vision of solidarity. To recover from nostalgic pastiche and blind neomania, arts organizations need to recall the task of imaginative disclosure, asking anew what genuinely worthwhile participation in culture requires, and attending to a social economy and public sphere that create more that legal space for such participation.”

* Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Art in Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture” p. 190. Cambridge University Press 2011.

Excerpt: more than the “right to communicate”

February 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Both structurally and normatively, it would not be enough merely to promote cultural and artistic diversity. The relevant question here is not simply whether people can exercise “the right to communicate in their own way about what moves them” and thereby to form their own “identity.” The relevant question is whether existing or future arts organizations can enable people to communicate in the right way and thereby to achieve cross-cultural recognition.”

* Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Art in Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture” p. 185. Cambridge University Press 2011.

Excerpt: Hypercommercialism

February 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

The term “hypercommercialization” indicates that cultural organizations such as schools and museums and mass media have long had a commercial side, even when audiences and producers ignored, denied, or resisted this commercial side. A common tendency in North America during the past three decades, however, has been to make commercial potential a primary reason for building and maintaining cultural organizations. This tendency can be seen in moves to “privatize” state-funded schooling, to market the economic benefits of arts activities, and to maximize sales spinoffs and product placements in the movie industry. What Adorno analyzed as the culture industry’s replacement of use value by exchange value has invaded many cultural organizations. Further, the replacement of use value has turned into a full-scale celebration of exchange value, such that questions about cultural needs and cultural norms become increasingly difficult to raise and to address. This celebration is an obvious dynamic in the emergence of celebrity culture, where one’s “personal” salability becomes the only qualification apparently needed to get public attention. Once cultural audiences and cultural producers accept exchange value as the only “bottom line,” the communicative capacities of cultural organizations become twisted to noncommunicative and strictly commercial ends.”

* Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Art in Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture” p. 178. Cambridge University Press 2011.

Excerpt: cultural deficit

February 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Arts organizations in North America face a cultural deficit. The deficit occurs in the societal structures that sustain them. But it also occurs within the explanations that arts organizations give for the societal importance of the arts. This cultural deficit receives forceful expression in standard economic arguments for government arts funding: such arguments misinterpret the character of cultural practices. They also misconstrue the role of arts organizations in a democratic society. The standard arguments are like canaries in the sociocultural mine: they fall silent precisely where internal deficits hinder arts organizations from fostering a democratic culture. The arguments, like the organizations, fall silent before the question, what good is art?”

* Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Art in Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture” p. 48. Cambridge University Press 2011.

Excerpt: prospects for a social economy

February 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

“In order for civil society to remain intact, and not simply to become a pawn of economic and political systems, the interfaces among these macrostructures must maintain their identity and integrity. Specifically, the civic sector and public sphere must remain responsive to the imperatives of civic society and not become fully colonized by the economic system and administrative state. This is a structural reason why the prospects for a social economy are so important.”

* Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Art in Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture” p. 162. Cambridge University Press 2011.

Excerpt: social role of cultural audience

February 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

“My thesis is that today’s capitalist economy threatens to reduce the social role of cultural audience to that of consumer, and that the administrative state threatens to reduce the role of cultural producer to that of the welfare state client. Moreover, even in their distinction from the roles of consumer and client, the roles of cultural audience and cultural producer serve to channel the pressures of monetarization and bureaucartization into cultural organizations in civil society. Both role reduction and the channeling effect contribute to what I call hypercommercialization and performance fetishism.”

* Zuidervaart, Lambert. “Art In Public: Politics, Economics, and a Democratic Culture” p. 178. Cambridge University Press 2011.

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