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BS: Capitalism and the Arts

M. Ted (inactive) 23 Nov 99 - 01:39 PM
Vixen 23 Nov 99 - 08:41 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Nov 99 - 09:16 PM
Little Neophyte 22 Nov 99 - 07:42 PM
Little Neophyte 22 Nov 99 - 07:39 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 22 Nov 99 - 06:46 PM
Frank Hamilton 22 Nov 99 - 04:46 PM
Lonesome EJ 22 Nov 99 - 04:17 PM
Vixen 22 Nov 99 - 03:42 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 22 Nov 99 - 02:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Nov 99 - 02:06 PM
Terry Allan Hall 22 Nov 99 - 09:25 AM
Vixen 22 Nov 99 - 08:59 AM
Tom Paine 21 Nov 99 - 06:42 PM
Little Neophyte 21 Nov 99 - 05:34 PM
Jack (Who is called Jack) 21 Nov 99 - 05:32 PM
Chet W. 21 Nov 99 - 12:42 PM
21 Nov 99 - 12:31 PM
Little Neophyte 21 Nov 99 - 11:58 AM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Nov 99 - 11:01 AM
InOBU 21 Nov 99 - 08:36 AM
Rick Fielding 20 Nov 99 - 11:45 PM
Chet W. 20 Nov 99 - 11:24 PM
Frank Hamilton 20 Nov 99 - 09:28 PM
Chet W. 20 Nov 99 - 12:47 PM
folk1234 20 Nov 99 - 11:27 AM
Frank Hamilton 20 Nov 99 - 10:13 AM
Len Wallace 20 Nov 99 - 02:51 AM
Amaranth 19 Nov 99 - 07:46 PM
Chet W. 19 Nov 99 - 07:46 PM
Little Neophyte 19 Nov 99 - 07:33 PM
northfolk/al cholger 19 Nov 99 - 07:20 PM
Chet W. 19 Nov 99 - 05:53 PM
Little Neophyte 19 Nov 99 - 01:27 PM
Vixen 19 Nov 99 - 11:56 AM
Liz the Squeak 19 Nov 99 - 11:49 AM
Frank Hamilton 19 Nov 99 - 11:42 AM
northfolk/al cholger 19 Nov 99 - 09:21 AM
northfolk/al cholger 19 Nov 99 - 09:20 AM
Vixen 19 Nov 99 - 08:55 AM
Chet W. 18 Nov 99 - 08:57 PM
Frank Hamilton 18 Nov 99 - 08:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Nov 99 - 04:31 PM
Chet W. 18 Nov 99 - 04:19 PM
Vixen 18 Nov 99 - 04:15 PM
northfolk/al cholger 18 Nov 99 - 04:06 PM
katlaughing 18 Nov 99 - 03:38 PM
catspaw49 18 Nov 99 - 12:57 PM
Liz the Squeak 18 Nov 99 - 12:18 PM
Jack (who is called Jack) 18 Nov 99 - 11:52 AM

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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 01:39 PM

Years ago, in East Lansing, we started a Musician Guild, on a similar principal to a collective, and it wasn't all that easy--the musicians were all excited about it, and we arranged concerts, auditions, etc--however, over time, the people who put the most time in found that they were doing more for the benefit of other people than for themselves, the meetings deteriorated in to gripe sessions and complaints about people who did the work, and, after a few well intended but unsuccessful efforts ( a big concert campus concert got snowed out, a community cable project died a borning) one day, nobody showed for the meeting, and that was it--

The reason that the music business is run by promoters of one sort or another, and not musicians, is that playing, writing, rehearsing, and practicing over the long term fill up the schedule--You can straddle the fence for a while, but sooner or later, you have to choose between being an evil, greedy, sweaty palmed, cigar chomping, lying, thieving promoter and a talented, gifted, misunderstood, exploited, underappreciated, and perpetually underbooked and underpaid performer--


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Vixen
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 08:41 AM

Again, more really interesting stuff....can anybody tell me how the musician's union would match up to a "musician's collective"? As the collective is described, it seems much more community-based than a labor-union. But the collective seems like a very interesting way to go, and fairly easy to set up if one can get the musicians interested. HMMMM. Any thoughts?

V


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 09:16 PM

The roots of the musical traditions that we love is in people making music for its own sake, and getting the odd gig at weddings and community celebrations. And it's still that way for most of us.

So what we need to do is to support each other, by swapping our skills and knowledge, in operations like "LETS" schemes. (You know, you get a credit for mowing a lawn, someone else gets a credit for singig a song or mending a hoover and so forth. ) And have lots of celebrations where you hire the local musicians instead of getting some band of srtrangers for weddings and such like.

The best we can hope for on a consistant basis from outside the "folk community" is to have some useful facilities laid on free or subsidised, in the way public libraries are, including archives and collections etc. That should include some recording facilities, and some maintained venues. And some travelling bursaries woukld be handy as well. and the right place to get that is from local government, and from voluntary community like churches of various sorts.

Outside of that there a music business, some of it growing out of the folk scene, and that can look for sponsorship from firms and trusts and that to underpin festivals - but that's really a separate operation.In one way it's much stronger and wealthier - but in another it's much more vulnerable to changes in fashion.

Whereas, so long as anyone wants to play or sing for it's own sake, there no way it can die out. And if it did, it'd be born again, and there'd be young people pestering any of us still alive at 90 years old. Making up songs and kidding them they were traditional. The same way old folk have always done. (The trick being that when you make up a song and let on it's traditional, sooner or later you find out it was anyway....


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 07:42 PM

OOOPs
I meant their are some who don't mind being in a compromising situation

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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 07:39 PM

This Corporate Sponsorship issue touches many professions looking for funding.
If you want their money, you will have to follow their guidelines.
For some this would be selling their soul
For others, principally they would never put themselves in a compromising situation.
For others, when it comes to exposure, promotion & cash, they are willing to do anything. Very sadly, there are others who take the funding not realizing what they are getting themselves into only to regret it later.

Banjo Bonnie


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 06:46 PM

I am skeptical about corporate sponsorship--for one thing, it tends to go for artists that satisfy the image requirements of the promotions department of the corporation that fronts the money--

There was an interesting promotion connected with the Kool Jazz Festivals that tells the story--the slogan was. "There's only one way to play it, Kool"

Of course, the whole point of jazz is that every artist has his or her own way of playing--but as far as the cigarette company was concerned, they paid the money, and they were going to decide how it was going to be--

The problem with this arrangement is that the decisions area made by people who have no real concern about music--they could just as easily dump the whole thing and go for a "Free travel coupons" promotion--

They want to be able to buy something that is a promotional package, use it for thirteen weeks, and move on to the Fall promotion--

Another thing about commercial sponsorships, they want the entertainment to appeal to their middle American target market--forget anything avant-garde, and especially anything traditional--


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 04:46 PM

M. Ted, I think your point about art having become as disposable as last year's car is a good one. Many audiences are often fickle and appreciate only what they are told is good by critics, or by the popularity of the artist. It's a "consumer" attitude that is prevalent rather than a humanistic or value-oriented appreciative view that controls the art marketplace.

As to the subsidy of artists by corporations, Pete Seeger was never endorsed by any. Nor was Woody. Their songs were able to make it to the charts and financed them to a degree because of the licensing organizations for songwriters. Unfortunately, Woody was not able to enjoy the benefits of the song royalties because of his encroaching disease. Leadbelly, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy and others like them were considered too radical to be subsidized by CocaCola or General Foods.

One exception to this seems to be the advent of The Old Town School of Folk Music who through the aegis of Director Jim Hirsch has gained corporate sponsorship. The jury is out on whether the School can adhere to it's original design, this way.

I agree that the artist has to please him/herself first before pleasing others whether the others are a state- controlled autocracy or a Capitalist financier. There will be those artists who don't fit and will not be terribly popular or even known well. There will be no bucks behind them as a result.

The solution is maybe to have more imput in the value of the art by the artist him/herself. Art collectives in various fields are a good idea, I believe. When Picasso was being interrogated by the Nazi's, he was able to salvage the paintings by Cezanne through convincing the Nazis that they were valueless. When artists care about each other, wonderful things can happen. As a collective voice they have more ablility to find funding for their work. In folk music, there are generous people like Pete Seeger who has supported the talents of many folk-type performers unselfishly. I believe the Folk Alliance may have this goal in mind but I'm wondering if they haven't gone the way of the music business machinery rather than support for traditional folk music artists?

I've gone on too long. Sorry about that.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 04:17 PM

Fredrick of Prussia presents Mozart live!

Coca Cola presents Whitney Houston in concert!

Regardless of the quality of the product, there is always someone behind the scenes who is marketing it. Folk music and Blues may be the single exceptions, but it's my understanding that Woody,Pete,Hank,BB and John Lee were able to eek out fairly comfortable livings through this music. Whether the system is Capitalist or Socialist is not the most important factor- freedom of speech and thought are the essential factors.Essential,that is, to the creation of a mass media that reflects the art desired by the people. In a system where this will is repressed, the people's music will still out by word of mouth,fax or electronic mail. This was the case with the Irish Rebel songs.

Art has rarely been understood, appreciated, or purchased by the majority of the population. Mozart performed most of his pieces for the select few. However, he also knocked out quite a few Dance Hall numbers for the sweaty masses. Profit,I believe, was his motivation in both instances.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Vixen
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 03:42 PM

There are some things that remain constant, despite the ebb and flow of popular opinion, and those constant things (in my warped imagination) should receive the support of the population in general. This gets rather broad here, but I think necessities of human existence should be provided for all by all. Education, exposure to the arts, housing, food, fuel, power, telecommunications, water, health care, and police and judicial protection, should be a baseline of human existence in a country as wealthy as the US of A. Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are impossible if one expends all one's resources acquiring a baseline existence.

Gar. I may have gone a step too far here... I didn't realize I felt this way 'til I wrote it!

V


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 02:32 PM

One thing that I think has been overlooked here (except for in the context of what Terry mentions) is the audience-

Here, in the good old USA, the mass audiences have a consistant tendency to embrace, deify, and then abandon artists and musical genres--

The folk music scare of the 50's and 60's being an good example--if you dig out your Billboard hot Albums chart, you will note that still in the top ranks of all time best sellers are a a few by the Kingston Trio, though they might not have been the most authentic, they were the crest of a wave that carried the full range of folk related entertainers, from Bob Dylan to Jean Ritchie, into the public spotlight.

There were hoots and coffeehouses on every campus, and folk programs on all the major radio stations, even the clean channel 50,000 watters--Obscure old folksongs topped the charts, as well as hot new fakesongs, most important, there were folksingers and folksongs on prime time TV--

And then it all went boom, maybe even faster than it happened(probably way faster, because it had really broken into the pop world with the work of the Weavers)

Now some will say that it was political, and talk about the battles that the Smothers Brothers had with the networks, or mention the sanitization of folk music that occured in connection with "Hootenanny!", but the truth is that the audience walked away, just like it had walked away from so many other wonderful chapters of American music--

There was, for instance, a prom night in about 1956, when every sax player in every jazz combo in America suddenly was unemployed, because kids wanted rock'n'roll and not those pop standards that they'd danced to for more than a generation--

And there were those three Ed Sullivan shows, back in 1964, when Don and Phil, Elvis and Roy, Jerry Lee, and every other American Rocker got bumped off the charts by John, Paul George, and Ringo, and a dozen other of what were often called "British Invaders"--

As always, I have probably gone on way to long with this point, but still the point must be considered--how can you survive, as a musician, an artist, and the active bearer of a tradtion, the when the audience is only with you for a short time, and then, without warning, just disappears? And how can the art form survive?


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 02:06 PM

"I work for a living, and the work ain't eay
Trying to do the right thing day by day. I don't want to make a killing,
I just want to make a living
I want enough to live on
And to earn my pay

I think that sums it up.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 09:25 AM

I think you have to honestly assess what "Success" means to you.

I feel like I'm successful in being a singer/songwriter/musician because I make a pretty good living out of it without having to compromise my beliefs unduly. I rarely play bars as the hours and pay are ridiculous (and drunks are pretty depressing), so instead I concentrate on restaurants, festivals, private parties and institutional gigs (retirement villages, nursing homes, prisons, hospitals, etc...Great $$$ & VERY appreciative audiences, BTW!)

I frequently get told by my friends (in rock & country bands) that they'd rather do a day job & play 5 hour bar gigs for $25 a man 2x a week, but maybe get "noticed", than play for 45-60 minutes in a nursing home for $50 3-5x weekly, and only be seen by the staff and residents. So, I guess they're trying for their definition of success.

Me, I enjoy mine. I'm usually home in time to fix dinner for the family (and only rarely not home in time to tuck my rug-rats into bed), and being a good daddy/hubby is pretty important to me.

What's fame got to offer over that?


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Vixen
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 08:59 AM

Wow--

I go offline for the weekend, and come back to read this! Some really thought-provoking ideas here. And the courtesy caps have stayed on very nicely, thank you! In response to JwicJ, I still don't know how Japan's system of "national treasures" works. I don't know of any government that does or has done it "right." Because the US of A is (at least nominally) a democracy, perhaps the mudcats could develop a "cultural manifesto" that spells out why and how the arts should be supported (not the who or the when). If it got enough interest behind it, it might get congressional recognition, and in an election year in the "new millennium" (despite the fact that it really doesn't start 'til 2001!) who knows what magic might happen.

V (just ramblin' off at the keyboard on a Monday)


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Tom Paine
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 06:42 PM

When they wrote the Bill of Rights they oughta have included this.

All music written in the courts and palaces of Europe and all music written within class ridden societies - which is alien to the very basis of equality - shall be discouraged and monitored.

Instead the free men of the new world shall learn and love the wisdom of the first freemen, the Greek, and shall by that wealth enrich this Great Nation.

Prosperity is not profit, nor wealth money, the monied are poor and the wealthy are debtors(General Strike and October Revolution - ahhh Practical revolution MAKES it work). The true creators of wealth are rather the inventors and engineers who made the technology possible for the blood suckers to use to enslave the rest of mankind, and as everyone knows a bad war or recession realigns wealth FAIRLY where new technology is the only way to win!

Yup CEO's are by definition uncreative 'yes' men for the faceless investors who fuel the stock market with their gambling ways. Painfull but true the only way ahead in this stagnant economy is to be a grocer like Sam Walton and sell your Country down the drain with cheap imports.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 05:34 PM

Camelot


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Jack (Who is called Jack)
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 05:32 PM

If only we could all emulate the fully enlightened practices of...um...er...hang on...I'm sure it'll come to me. You know, like, um...well I'm sure somebody's done it right somewhere...help me out here folks...wasn't there a country somewhere that got it all right at one time?


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Chet W.
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 12:42 PM

OBU, I know well about the Romany situation in Boravia (my personal name for the Czech Republic). I've had three letters published in the Prague Post (www.praguepost.cz) about these very crimes you mention, including the absurd sentences given to skinheads who murdered an African student and the ones who murdered the mother of four. It is a shameful situation and I'm with you all the way. When my letters were published, there were a lot of responses about how OJ Simpson bought his freedom here. Unfortunately and not forgivably, the courts in Boravia are very often corrupt, and verdicts can be bought for a lot less than OJ paid over here. Hopefully as the ten-year-old republic develops, it will improve. I still love the place though, just as I love my own country with all its faults, including racism and corrrption. There wil always be things to speak out and fight against. I have gotten into some pretty nasty arguments about the treatment of ethnic groups here and there.

And McG, you're right that my personal feelings about Gilbert and Sullivan may not have been relevant, but they were not meant to offend. I don't like real operas either, or heavy metal or rap. I just described the way they make me feel, not that they are bad. I agree on everything else.

And yes, every time I listen to Frank Sinatra or Louis Prima, I can't help but wonder who was in the audience.

Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From:
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 12:31 PM

Sar San Bonnie! My misto! Of course I send you that and some other songs I wrote about Romani human rights. The silence around the history of slavery and forced migration can only end if we touch a few hearts with music - Jar ess o penoff? So... my email adress is InOBU@AOL.COM and drop me a line. By the by, have you heard the Kali Jag Group from Hungary. They do the Romani internal music, you so seldom hear in public, not the for general consumpiton stuff so many do, which is great, but heard so much... Das baxtalee Larry


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 11:58 AM

Hi InOBU
My mom was a gypsy too.
I would love to see the lyrics to the song you wrote. Would that be possible?

Banjo Bonnie


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 11:01 AM

We don't want to have innocent bystanders beinmg killed in the crossfire do we, when we get justifiably wrought up?

"Personally they gave me the same feeling as Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, a silly fiction" (Chet).

Complaining that Gilbert and Sullivan operettas are silly fictions is like complaining that Pete Seeger played a banjo, or Margot Fonteyn danced classical ballet. You don't like silly fictions, fair enough. But it's hardly a relevant personal prejudice to bring up in this context.

And in fact, however silly you might think, Gilbert came up with sharp little digs at the system on the way.

For example:
"The House of Peers, throughout the war
Did nothing in particular
and did it rather well
Yet Brritain set the world ablaze
in good King George's glorious days"

Or:
"For he might have been a Roosian
A Frenchman or a Proosian
Or perhaps Italian
But in spite of all temptations
To belong to other nations
He remains an Englishman.

As for the main topic - I reckon the least corrupting type of "public" sponsorship is from the local state. Where that gets corrupt it tends to do so in a less murderous fashion than the central state. The same goes for sponsorship from business operations.

And of course let's not forget organised crime, from the Medicis and Borgias to the Mafia and beyond. Where would jazz have been at times without Prohibition Barons? If you had to choose between Henry Ford and Al Capone which had the more blood on its hands? Or Monsanto and Escobar?


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: InOBU
Date: 21 Nov 99 - 08:36 AM

Hi Folks: Chet! Please dont take this as a personal rebuke, however, though my musical traditions and political traditions come from my fathers side (Irish) my mother is half Rom (commonly called Gypsy). The so called freedoms of the velvet revolution have come at a huge price to those who are not of the ethnic majority in the Czech Republic. Two towns are building walls around Romani ghettos and there have been scores of Roma murdered in skin head attacks, which are often sponsored by local authorities, and when not - condoned by them with only months in jail for killing a gypsy. As to music and capitalism, two of the five members of my band quit as they did not want to sing a song I wrote, that has recieved a lot of good responce from the audiences, because it was - as they put it - political, it tells the story of a Rom mother of four, thrown off a bridge in the Czech republic by skin heads, who recieved short sentences when the judge rulled it was the river, not the act of throwing her in which killed her. In countries like Ireland and the United States, songs about social issues scare people because of the Phil Oachs syndrom. Artists who care about those we are not supossed to care about are marginialized with their causes. The real scary statistic is that 70 per cent of the raw material production of the world is under the control of 3 percent of the US population. It makes nations like Ireland who have a tradition of coperative ecconomies (after our tradition of ecconomic slaver) adopt such preditory immages as the ol Celtic Tiger! Tigers in Ireland! What next? A nation of tea totaling yupies I guess... Keep singing louder than the guns Sisters and Brothers (and sorry for the spelling) Larry


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 20 Nov 99 - 11:45 PM

The trick is to take the money, and THEN do it your way. Happens all the time with various grants here. You won't get a second one from THAT organisation, but many just find another sponsor and repeat steps one and two.
Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Chet W.
Date: 20 Nov 99 - 11:24 PM

But see that's what I was saying earlier. If an artist is dependent on anybody and tailors their creative energies with any sponsor in mind, there is going to be some effect, just like when you give a politician money (if you're a big business or union or something). I'm saying that you do what you do, and if somebody else likes it enough to make you rich, fine. If enough people like it enough just to pay the bills, fine too. But any artist, unless they are willing to please, has to realize at some point that you have to do what you do for yourself first, and anybody else after that.

Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 20 Nov 99 - 09:28 PM

I'm not disputing what you say about the control of the "folk arts" by the USSR. But there were touring companies from the Soviet Union that reflected a high level of artistry despite the "sanitized" aspect that you refer to.

My point was and still is that under a socialized government, it is still possible to have fine art that is state supported. How sanitized it gets is relative. When corporate sponsorship enters the arts field there is also a sanitizing effect by the sponsors themselves. This is inherent in any artistic pursuit that is capitalized by the state or the private sector.

I personally have never had any love for the regime in the USSR but state supported arts are by no means limited to the Communist Soviets. Even in a "murderous state", there is the possibility that some of the art state-supported may have it's own validity if it doesn't cross swords with the government. The Moiseyev group, Pianitsiky Chorus or the Alexandrov Choir, Andreyev Balalaika Orchestra are examples. In the same way, there is art that is deemed acceptible by the corporations in this country. The art can be valid and have it's own integrity if it doesn't cross swords with the corporate policies.

State-supported art doesn't have to follow the Bolshevik model by any means. The Library of Congress NEA Folkarts Division is certainly a good case i point. Folk music in this country would have been lost without it.

Don't look to CocaCola to subsidize the collecting, compilation and preservation of traditional American folk music 'cause it ain't gonna' happen. They might jump on the pop folkie bandwagon if they see a bottom line for them.

As I think of it, I don't recall a single artist who was an innovator in the field of music, painting or literature that was ever subsidized by a corporation. Private endowments have occasionally done this as a kind of patronage but that use is limited. And who is to say how much censorship, "sanitization" or creative control goes into this process on the part of the managers. I say that despite all of it's drawbacks, a good case can be made for state-supported art.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Chet W.
Date: 20 Nov 99 - 12:47 PM

Great quotes! I'll get off this horse in a minute, but I have to add that I wasn't *just* talking about Stalin himself either. The "folk" groups you saw and heard were not the same as you would have seen and heard if you were there, without political officers present. Their repertoire had been ethnically cleansed, so to speak. An awful lot of Russian art, both pre- and post-communism, was and is about the misery of living there. I wouldn't try to read Dostoevsky or Solzhenitsin without some Prozac handy. The "folk" groups, while their members may have been fine artists, the groups themselves were puppets of a murderous state, I'm sure almost always against their sincere will. Personally they gave me the same feeling as Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, a silly fiction. There is certainly great Russian art, but the best was generally unavailable under Stalinism until it had been politically approved. In a somewhat different vein, this "journalist" Vladimir Posner that was the darling of American media at the end of the cold war was, for most of his career the primary master of ceremonies for a criminal state because, having grown up here as the son of a diplomat, his English is perfect. As he gets rich over here, has he ever expressed regret for his past?; Not that I know of. I like the description of the USSR regime being "state capitalism". Exactly.

Lest we forget, Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: folk1234
Date: 20 Nov 99 - 11:27 AM

WOW! What a treasure of meaningful discourse and educated in-sight. I'm proud to be a Mudcat, and humbled to be at the same table.
Also, for those who have been critical of the 'cat climate in previous threads, please note the genuine courtesy being displayed here.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 20 Nov 99 - 10:13 AM

Well I never intended to say that Stalin was anything but a vicious dictator and tyrant. My point was that under a state supported system, there were good folk groups. In other words, the private sector support for the arts is in by no means the only way to foster them. I guess my point was lost.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Len Wallace
Date: 20 Nov 99 - 02:51 AM

"In Babylon, dark Babylon, Who take the wage of shame? The scribe and singer, one by one, That toil for gold and fame. They grovel to their masters' mood; The blood upon the pen Assigns their souls to servitude - Yea! and the souls of men!" - George Sterling, from "In the Market Place"

"Gold? yellow, glittering, precious gold? . . . This yellow slave Will knit and break religions; bless the accursed; Make the hoar leprosy adored; place thieves, And give them title, knee and approbation With senators on the bench." - William Shakespeare

"[The bourgeoisie] has piteously torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural supriors', and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous 'cash payment'. It has drowned the most heavenly ectasies of relisious fervor, of chvalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom - Free Trade." - Karl Marx and Freddy Engels, from the Communist Manifesto

"Shall we all be slaves and work for wages? It is outrageous! Has been for ages! This world by right belongs to toilers and not to spoilers of liberty!" - from "Workingmen, Unite!" to the tune of "Redwing", E.S. Nelson, 1909 edition of the IWW Little Red Songbook

As a singer, songwriter, full-time, and as a socialist, I hold that the "arts" are stifled, perverted, manipulated when the measure of value in all things is that of money - making a profit. And let me make clear that to me the former USSR, China, Cuba were/are not socialist - just another form of capitalism (state capitalism). As long as we are forced into a situation where the majority of us work for a wage or salary while a small minority lives off the profits WE create, then profit (money) will be the measure of success, of what is "good", what is recognized and considered useful.

I kind of agree with the anarchist slogan - Capitalism? So-called communism? One down. One to go.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Amaranth
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 07:46 PM

Just a note from the north, land of socialized medicine and other social programs you southerners should adopt. The government arts funding in the U.S.A. is much higher than here in Canada (although many will not admit it), this is one area we can learn from you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Chet W.
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 07:46 PM

I agree with you that there's no either/or ideal, and the best solution is usually somewhere in between, and the obscene wealth of Western CEOs while others do important work for little or nothing disgusts me too. But the name Stalin is a dirty word. His crimes against humanity were in many ways more spectacular than Hitler's. His name and image and ideas should be repulsive to all thinking people of good will. At least Lenin somewhat lived what he preached. Stalin was an ordinary thug that murdered millions, and trashed lives for generations of half the world. I'm afraid that many of us might (and I mean might), as we are rightfully disgusted and frustrated by the trends of western democracies, declining education and values and more violence and vulgar consumerism, might forget the details of the recent past. My family lived in Stalinism, and I don't want anyone to forget who he really was, the way Pat Buchanan seems willing to gloss over the horrors of Nazis.

Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 07:33 PM

An ethical revolution, right Northfolk?


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: northfolk/al cholger
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 07:20 PM

Chet, I don't see this as an either or choice, nearly as strong a statement can be made about treatment of native americans, blacks, and hispanics in the US. Some of the medical experiments that we have in our not so distant past equal the tyranny that you speak of. I have come to the belief that we need to create a means of challenging "too much" power and wealth, everywhere. On a different thought, Woody Guthrie, and I'm sure some others actually did produce some work under subsidized government programs. Could they have been anywhere near as eloquent in their message had those programs enabled them to live outside the realm of want?


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Chet W.
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 05:53 PM

Just so we don't get too sentimental for communism, for every "folk" ensemble that was supported, fed, and otherwise cared for there were many more individuals who disappeared or were jailed or sent to the uranium mines just because of their art. These so-called "folk" artists that put on the state-sponsored shows were doing the equivalent of sending an American group with orders, under penalty of death, to sing "Turkey in the Straw" and "I Gave my Love a Cherry" and not much else. If one of them (the Soviets) had gone berserk and done something along the lines of a Woody Guthrie song he'd have been dead or glowing in a matter of hours, headed for Moscow in a diplomatic sack. I don't know as many Russians as I do Czechs, my wife's land of birth, but now-president Vaclav Havel spent years and ruined his health in prison for producing some great writing. So did many others. My own cousin. So regardless of how frustrating it is to be underappreciated for art or profession, I assure you we all are many times better off than if we had worked for Uncle Joe. Comparing him favorable to anything is extremely offensive to a lot of people.

Know of what you speak, Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 01:27 PM

Vixen you are so right.
When I show others the enthusiasm I have for my music, I may not be aware of the impact it has on them. Lets say I discuss my passion for the banjo with a friend (who happens to hold one of those CEO jobs) or play them the latest tune I created. It may brighten their day and make them start thinking about their own life. They may start asking themselves "What am I filling my life with? Is it meaningful? How happy am I? What makes me feel passionate? Who knows, maybe this CEO gets the maid to pull out the old saxophone, and dust it off so they can feel once again the joy they use to feel many years ago. Then tax season comes around and their accountant recommends they shelter some revenues in a tax deductable donation. So this 'Closet Case' CEO musician decides to put $100,000.00 in a music scholarship fund at the local university
Just my imagination, but you never know
Banjo Bonnie


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Vixen
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 11:56 AM

Northfolk/Al, your post reminded me, and Frank's has made me think more about this idea--

Isn't it Japan that has a "national treasure" program for artists? I don't know how it works, or how an artist can survive on his or her art long enough to qualify for a lifetime achievement award...Does anyone here know more about it?

I don't know much about the USSR model either, but I think it selected individuals with (politically correct) creativity and talent at a very early age and supported and trained them, so they didn't have to worry about starving or health care unless they suddenly started biting the hand that fed them. That might not work so well in a political system that *requires* that its citizens have "freedom" of expression--an artist might be more prone to biting a feeding hand.

V

Just more thoughts...fwiw.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 11:49 AM

When someone can make a fortune out of a pile of bricks, a disgusting unmade bed (I may be a slob who never makes the bed, but even I change the sheets when they start to crackle)and half a cow, whilst my area of London, one of the poorer boroughs in the capital, starts the next century with only 2/3rds the teachers and less than 1/2 the doctors and nurses we need, then there is something really wrong with the way that money is distributed. I saw the pile of bricks, and what amounted to a circular path of crazy paving. Maybe if they took them out of the galleries and laid them on the pavement (sidewalk), then my husband might not have fallen over it, with our daughter on his shoulders.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 11:42 AM

As bad as it seems to some, there is a strong case to be made for government support of the arts. At lease something of value could be made available for young people. Censorship may be one of the costs. Political manuevering, another. What's the alternative when corporate money is spent on supporting the arts that are in harmony with corporate goals? Why is it that tobacco companies have to support jazz festivals? CocaCola money is spent on some of the arts while rotting the teeth out of children? Pop stars get more recognition by corportations than legitimate artists because they favorably affect the "bottom line"? Quality theater in this country is slowly becoming extinct because only big ticket companies can survive outside of New York. Name twenty successful (not in the red) regional theatrical companies in the U.S.

Now we can talk about folk music and what that means in an economic context. It means that the music that will survive is in the marketplace. The historical context of folk music is not considered important enough to teach in the public schools except for a few conscientious teachers who employ it as part of their curriculum.

If it weren't for the federal funding of the Library of Congress, what folk music would we have in the U.S.? Which corporation that anyone knows would sponsor folklorists, collectors or traditional folk singers?

What was the last corporation that sponsored Doc Watson, Jean Ritchie, Pete Seeger, Taj Mahal, Leadbelly or Woody Guthrie in a concert?

Even during the most repressive Stalin times in the USSR, there were spectacular folk music ensembles and dance companies sponsored by the state.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: northfolk/al cholger
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 09:21 AM

Always ready to throw down the glove... what I left out of my previous post is that in other competing market economies, most notably Japan where the difference between factory worker and CEO is around 7 to 1, and the europeans where that ratio is in the area of 23 to 1, our current predicament has to yield the question:

How many new teaching, or other productive useful jobs could be generated by redistributing those obscene benefits. along with the concept of having more not less workers comes more leisure time to accomplish and enjoy the art and culture that this post is about.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: northfolk/al cholger
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 09:20 AM

Always ready to throw down the glove... what I left out of my previous post is that in other competing market economies, most notably Japan where the difference between factory worker and CEO is around 7 to 1, and the europeans where that ratio is in the area of 23 to 1, our current predicament has to yield the question:

How many new teaching, or other productive useful jobs could be generated by redistributing those obscene benefits. along with the concept of having more not less workers comes more leisure time to accomplish and enjoy the art and culture that this post is about.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Vixen
Date: 19 Nov 99 - 08:55 AM

Chet--

You have, of course, raised the crucial issue...what can we do to correct what we perceive as error? I think the only way we can change anything is to commit our lives to effecting whatever small changes we can. And committing our lives means just that--the minutes, hours, and days are given over to the challenge, and from our exertion we must draw our own pleasure. It just sometimes seems that for every 5 evil-doers there are 50 passive citizens and 1 person willing to make the commitment to effect change.

V (relinquishing the soapbox and tossing two pennies in the hat on the floor)


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Chet W.
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 08:57 PM

As an artist and a teacher, I'm wondering what we could do to reverse what I agree is a sad commentary on our priorities. I just don't know, but one thing that is becoming obvious; Just as every society gets the government they deserve, ours is about to get the education system it deserves. Teachers are quitting, retiring, or choosing other careers, sometimes without ever entering a classroom, in record numbers. Our little school district started the school year short 100 teachers. Next year shows all signs of being twice as bad. It will inevitably get to the point where there are not even remotely enough teachers to put one in every classroom, and most people seem to think it has nothing to do with the lack of respect the public has for the profession and the resultant low pay that comes with it. That along with the frustrations of trying to make up for a lifetime of little or no parenting is going to have the effect that the public seems comfortable with. As for the arts, how are you going to influence people to do the study and self-examination that it takes to appreciate good art, be it a famous painting or an unknown woodcarver. That one has no solution that I can imagine.

Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 08:45 PM

What does it say about our country's priorities when the NRA is more powerful than the NEA?

America's business is business, so I've heard. The arts remain secondary in importance. Professional sports create the kind of athletic personality that does well in business. Agressive, at times ruthless, highly competitive, obsessed with winning at all costs and maximizing their profits for the bottom line.

Artists and teachers are at the bottom of the pay scale. Unless you happen to be one of the "stars", your artistic pursuits by and large are meaningless to a personality driven society. Does this tell us something about our priorities? Or our claims to be a civilized nation?

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 04:31 PM

That's a lovely website Spaw, and I wish I could get to see the museum.

The thing is, there's still so much good stuff being made by carvers and singers and musicians and painters, that noone in the big media is ever going to tell us about. Thee's a bright spotlight shines on some little bits of the stage, and the peiople who control it like to shine it most of the time on rubbish, and that's where the money goes, and that's seen as making it important. But meantime the good stuff is still happening.

Places like Mudcat cancel that out a bit. More important than the money is getting respect.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Chet W.
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 04:19 PM

I think a better example of what's disturbing about this 400:1 ratio is that the CEOs of the really big companies get huge money plus huge bonuses, even if the company fails spectacularly under their watch. Michael Moore made a movie about the CEO of GM several years ago that illustrated this very point. And $10 million per year? Try $100 million or more for the really big time CEOs.

Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Vixen
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 04:15 PM

Dear Folk1234--

You make some good points about the salary issues...it seemed way out of line to me, too. However, *if* the calculation figured in benefits (usually estimated as equal to the salary), perks like company cars and housing, and stock options, AND *if* the production worker's salary was computed on the basis of 50 40-hour weeks at minimum wage with no benefits, perks or stock options (since the lowly burger flipper doesn't usually get those), the worker's annual salary is around 12000.

I don't know how the figures were derived, because I only heard the tag end of the comment on NPR when I switched on the radio. I couldn't believe my ears (hearing aids)!

I agree about the art...I really don't care about being a millionaire superstar. In fact, I'd prefer not to be one. But I would like to have sufficient income to pay my bills and keep food on the table while being allowed to stay home and write, compose, and think a lot. And I'd like to do that without having to depend on the whim of a government bureaucracy, if at all possible.

V


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: northfolk/al cholger
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 04:06 PM

The 400 to 1 ratio is the most current in the widening gap between corporate CEOs and entry wage workers.

I relate not as a musician or artist, but as one who sees value to both the work and the effect of art, and I appreciate art, especially music that moves people. (granted some get moved in the wrong direction)

While I'm not as fervently a socialist as I once was, I still see no salvation in Capitalism. My aspiration is to rebuild real participatory democracy, then let that force control the economics, directly

Last week a diverse group of friends was discussing the WTO and a friend from the Interfaith Committee for Workers Justice talked about the natural wage, as described by Adam Smith, All you aspiring Capitalists, reread that...

kat, as for the investor that your son works for, hurray. He may be a Capitalist, or just a great investor, but he clearly has some decent priorities.


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: katlaughing
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 03:38 PM

Yes, JackwicJ & Folk1234, good points, both.

LTS, my friend who is a paralegal which requires a 4 year college degree with 2 years of specific college and another degree after that, was over last night. She told me she has verified that out of the attorneys in her office, just the pay that just ONE of them takes out as a *draw*, for just ONE month, was equal to all of the combined YEARLY salaries of all of the paralegals in the office. And, she does the lion's share of her attorney's work because he is off playing, not minding the store!


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 12:57 PM

Good post JackJack....Loved that forum "zinger" especially.....Well done.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 12:18 PM

Mmmm, lots to think of here, but I'm too busy steaming about the pay rise that was awarded to our local councillors in the summer. It amounted to about £4,500 - £5,000 a year, a sum that represented (until they sacked me for having asthma and being part time) my entire gross wages for a year. And they say we can't afford to light the "eternal flame" on the war memorial plaque in the town hall.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
From: Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 11:52 AM

This is an old arguement, only they used to argue about 'professional vs. amatuer'. The former working for money, the latter presumably for love. For all the flaws one can identify in its execution, professionalism nearly always motivates any field to which it is applied to higher levels of creativity and excellence than existed before its introduction. The problem with assessing this effect in the arts lies in the fact that in art, excellence and creativity are very subjective terms, influenced by the fashions of the day. Unlike baseball, to take an example, where the issue of who's the best home run hitters are is not a matter of taste. Sure you can argue about McGuire or Sosa, or Ruth vs. Aaron, but you don't argue about whether or not they are better than the local slugger on a sandlot softball team. Nobody complains that the latter is unfairly denied the freedom or financial support that the highly paid major league players get. Nobody faults the requirements of 'the business' that he 'learn to hit the damn curveball and we'll talk'. Yet this arguement is constantly made about musicians and artists when 'the industry' judges them similarly, and its easy to see why. Is Eric Clapton a better guitarist than Leo Kottke? Is the the music of Duke Ellington better than the music of Frank Yankovic, or Frank Zappa? Even more illustrative is the fact that the ability of a musician to work in a wide variety of styles on a variety of instruments doesn't necessarily increase his or her rank, recognition and marketability. In fact, you will find that when a musician strays from a particular style he will more often than not be bombarded with accusations of selling-out or betraying some abstract sense of artistic integrity or purity. Anyone who's read this forum with any regularity will recognize this phenomena, but its not limited to folk and traditional music.


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