Summary of Culture Crash

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Rating

7

Qualities

  • Engaging
  • Inspiring

Recommendation

Modern culture is a winner-take-all environment. The top 5% of touring pop bands currently earn around 90% of concert revenues. Movie studios and publishers put all their marketing behind the newest blockbuster or the latest bestseller and ignore everything else. As a result, says arts critic Scott Timberg, everything else disappears. Jazz combos, iconoclastic dance companies and quirky midlist authors slip away because they can’t make money. The picture Timberg paints may be too bleak, his views overly nostalgic, and he’s happily ignoring the fact that culture was thriving for centuries without any copyright protection. Nevertheless, his enthusiasm for independent arts and the artists struggling to create them is infectious. A calm, gently ironic prophet of doom, he omits only the cure, but he will make you wonder if there is one and how society could change course, reinvigorate the middle class’s involvement in the arts and sustain artists who aren’t superstars. getAbstract recommends this eloquent essay’s insights to those working in cultural institutions, creative professions and entertainment and to those who value their work.

About the Author

Arts journalist Scott Timberg is a contributor to Salon and The New York Times. A former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, he currently runs ArtsJournal’s “Culture Crash” blog.

 

Summary

“The Creative Class”

The arts flourished in the middle years of the 20th century. The burgeoning middle class provided a huge audience, and most artists came from it. Culture relied on a secure infrastructure. Museums, universities, bookshops, record stores, and newspaper and magazine critics supported the growth of the arts. Cities were more affordable, so aspiring artists could congregate and collaborate in cultural centers like Boston or New York. This stimulated the growth of a large creative class, including musicians, poets, painters and dancers, supported by publicists, galleries, roadies, bookshop and record store clerks, disc jockeys, editors, and many others.

In the early 21st century, the middle class, worried about its own economic security, has little energy for jazz, dance or poetry. Internet retailers upended much of culture by taking over the business of selling books, music and movies. Superstars grow vastly richer, while the average artist finds it harder to scrape together a middle-class income. A thriving creative class with its array of diverse offerings improves a society, but its diversity evaporates when only the wealthy can afford to practice...


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