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.
In this summary, you will learn
- How the middle class fostered the arts in the 20th century,
- How technological, societal and economic changes undermined middle-class support of the creative class, and
- How to reconcile the middle class and the creative class in the 21st century.
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.
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