F(O)UNDINGCulture052213aA recent symposium: F(o)unding Culture, organized by Czech Center New York and the Aspen Institute Prague, explored the subject of ‘art as a common good,’ with particular emphasis on state and private funding.

The first panel (which included: Benjamin Barber, Wendy W. Luers, Krzysztof Czyzewski, Jan Bondy, Fritzie Brown and Andreas Stadler) addressed the ‘concept of advancing public diplomacy through the arts’ and lessons learned from the experience of the US and Central Europe in securing ‘sustainable development in the field of art and culture.’

In his remarks, Benjamin Barber (Senior Research Scholar at CUNY) commented that “democracy permits arts to flourish and arts permit democracy to flourish.” While some of the speakers suggested that government funding has had an adverse impact on the arts others said the same about private and corporate funding. Perhaps a more significant issue, one that wasn’t really addressed, is what effect the arts, of the last 100 years, have had on Europe, the US and the world? Are democracies truly flourishing? If not, what role have the arts played in undermining societies?

DoNotSitArtSince the 1913 Armory Show, and the arrival of Dadaism, Cubism, and Surrealism to America’s shores, the art world in the US has delighted in its assault on tradition, nature and form — fomenting a counter-culture and contributing to a band of rebels, driven by misguided freedom and self-absorption.

“I am working for myself; what else have I got to work for?…I have got nobody to excite me except myself…I’m very lucky, of course, to be able to earn my living by something that really absorbs me.” Francis Bacon

The resulting toxic egoism, characterized by no fear, no rules, no boundaries or regrets has been infused into into all areas of American society and is being exported to the world — with Predator Drones, Credit Default Swaps, BPA etc.

It’s interesting how America uses her culture to destabilize other countries and even torture people (see music used on prisoners at Guantanamo) all in the spirit of advancing democracy — without realizing the adverse effect it has had on her own people. Democracy and society don’t work if everybody is a rebel.ArtworkPleaseDoNotSit