JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ART AND SUBSIDY   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GILL HORNBY IN THE TELEGRAPH

“The best books and songs and poems and plays do not get written, nor works of art crafted, because of state subsidy.”

This is an old and tired argument, especially popular in American right-wing circles.

It is superficially true if you imagine a kind of Monty Python post-office official doling out grants to struggling artists.

But reality is far more complex.

History gives us a much more sophisticated view about the creation of art and subsidy.

Without the patronage of the great dukes and cardinals (the government of the day), the Italian Renaissance would have been a far more sparse artistic period.

Great writers and composers in Britain and Germany benefited from the same kind of sources. Shakespeare had a lordly patron, and both Beethoven and Mozart benefited from patrons and trusts set up by admiring men of influence.

Even in America, we have evidence to the contrary of this proposition. The WPA during the great depression subsidized many artists, and in American cities you can still find some of the very handsome results in public monuments, buildings, and photographic collections.

Simplistic propositions, I’m afraid, always reveal simplistic minds.

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