There is a huge difference between entertainment value, cultural value, and artistic value.
Entertainment value is surely sealable by popularity, and sales.
Artistic value can really only assessed over the long-term. J.S. Bach wasn’t even considered in the top-20 living composers of his lifetime (so to speak.)
Cultural value is connected to both entertainment and artistic value, but relates to inherent qualities independent of those.
I thought about this just now because Sydney Skybetter tweeted an article about The Crisis in Modern Dance, which concludes with a quote from New York based choreographer Tatyana Tenenbaum saying about dance that,
“It is a sequestered high art. There is not much of a market for it.”
Her quote really struck a cord with me. I think the sequestration of high art – including dance – is contributing to our financial crisis.
The Americans for the Arts National Arts Index Summary (2009) reports that, “nonprofit arts organizations are losing their ‘market share’ of philanthropy to other charitable areas… Between 1998 and 2007, the percentage of foundation funding directed to the arts decreased from 14.8 to 10.6 percent. The corporate giving share to the arts decreased from 10.3 to 4.6 percent during the same period.”
Somehow, we are losing our value to funders. It may be entirely related to the economy. In this down time funders are prioritizing feeding people over providing arts opportunities. But in my mind that doesn’t fully answer it. I think that the sequestration of dance is actually self-sequestration, and related to decreasing cultural value. That’s both individual product and aggregate impact.
I see how positive and entertaining dance being produced today is, and I think that the artistic value today is as high as it’s ever been. In terms of compositional innovation I’m certain our problems (in dance) aren’t dis-similar from those of classical music.
Image in this post ripped from the Guardian story.