In light of the enormous proposed cuts in arts funding Virginians and many others around the country are facing right now, I started wondering (yet again) about the ever-present divide between arts and culture and business. Knowing I will inspire a knee-jerk reaction by oversimplifying the issue with one question (but wanting to go there anyway), Why is the business of art and culture perceived as different than any other industry?
I found this Harvard Business School article, “It Is Okay for Artists to Make Money…No, Really, It’s Okay” by Robert D. Austin and Lee Devin suggesting that starting a more sensitive, yet less emotional dialogue between art and business might be the answer to ending what they call “a general aversion to business common among artists and their patrons” and could open the door to a win-win relationship between business and the arts.
So judge the 29 page treatise yourself or skip down to the last page to get the gist:
“Our culture has many flaws, one of them, perhaps, the movement of art away from the center of life. But we change things by reconceiving, by including what is in a larger conception what can be. The supposed malign influence of commerce on art will not go away because marginalized artists cry “How dare you!” or when people object to high values placed on art outcomes. It will go away when artists and non-artists find ways to include what is in their worldviews and to combine what is with a view that includes art understood and valued in many ways.”
Make art, make money. Is it as simple as living what can be?