First of all let me say, that I am an avid patron of the arts. I attend several pieces of theatre in a year and several musical performances as well. I believe a vibrant arts scene is crucial to the well being of any city. In short, culture matters for me personally and for society in general. Not surprisingly, I feel it should be supported and encouraged as it is so beneficial to all of us. Where I disagree with many in the community is how I believe these artistic endeavours should be supported. To be more precise, I feel that public government funding might not be necessary and may actually cause harm to the vibrancy of the scene.
I am an optimist and because I am also a patron, I am fully aware that if the product is a good one, well promoted, and skillfully marketed it will be successful. By this I mean it will be able to cover all its costs and make a profit. Many people attracted to working in the arts seem to have an aversion for learning math, marketing, accounting etc. There seems to be a persistent conscious or unconscious belief that if you are not struggling you have somehow sold out and aren’t a real artist. This is unfortunate, as it is these skills that will allow the arts to be successful and fully self-sustaining. They are a necessity. Marketing and promotion and designing new business models (with the arts in mind) are all highly creative tasks. Artists are very creative people and so if they applied their creativity in this direction as well just imagine the benefit for all.
Alternatively, filling out government applications is not very creative at all and creating art that will fit Government criteria seems very limiting. This is currently embraced though by the current producers of art because they feel without public funding they will not survive. We have a system in place because of this phenomenon where art is created by and for bureaucrats. In either system, the cream will rise to the top.
By encouraging creativity in all aspects of the arts especially the business and marketing aspects I would argue that ultimately the patrons/public will pick winners more often than Governments will. Then we will have a truly vibrant and influential scene that is the envy of the world.