Is art alienated?

So I have been absent from the blogging sphere for some time and I now make my return to discuss the state of the arts. This return I feel is a temporary one, and I’m afraid to say to anybody who might listening via their eyes (so, put more simply, reading) that my virtual presence will be sporadic over the next few months.

I am currently placing my words elsewhere, in the construction of three dissertations and one performance project (although the latter is not so much my words as my body, my creativity and my sanity). Needless to say I am fairly busy. But, my research today uncovered some papers published by the arts council that everyone really must read.

I considered saying everyone who holds an interest in the arts, but no, my statement of everyone stands and will not be corrected. This is because it shouldn’t be. The papers are termed “provocation papers” and are a collection of essays surrounding issues the arts face in our current age of austerity. My personal favourite is “Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society: Remaking the case for the arts” wherein Matthew Taylor and John Knell argue for a revision in the ways in which art organisations present their cases for funding.

The paper focuses on the conflation of intrinsic and instrumental reasons for arts funding; the intrinsic being an art for arts sake/art is beauty argument and the instrumental being a focus on a positive effect on society. The authors suggest, firstly, that the two aren’t as separate as we may think and, secondly, that we should think more of a spectrum from artistic instrumentalism to public good instrumentalism. That’s all I’m going to say on the content of the paper, you really should all go and read it yourselves, but I would like to contemplate what sprung out to me – from all the papers – was a need to reunite art and artistic leaders with the larger society; but more than this, an overarching feeling that the arts have alienated themselves.

Evidently the arts have always been placed, and perhaps placed themselves somewhere both in and outside of society. It is this privileged position which has enabled them to so brilliantly comment on and reflect our society. But have the arts actually cut themselves off completely? Have they created their own artistic bubble that some members of society can, and do, enter but then have to leave back to the real world?

These are really just questions that I wanted to air, and I’m sure more posts will be filled with questions and musings as I wander through other people’s words in an attempt to create my own.

As for now, that is all.



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