The Arts Are Undervalued in Our Culture.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by ElJay370, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Meister

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    There was a thread the other day about how whether or not a 4 year college degree is really necessary in order to make a good living. Many suggested learning a trade instead. While the world does need pipefitters, welders and electricians, I think most of us here would also agree that the world also needs authors, graphic artists, and musicians. College is where you would generally go if you wanted to learn how to do any of these things well. The trouble is, the chances of you being anything other than functionally poor should you decide to engage in any of these pursuits is near zero, so the ROI of a degree in them is marginal at best. We've all heard the jokes and cliches about the "starving artist", but it's unfortunately true that unless you get extremely lucky there is no money in music or the arts. Most of us know this. Anyone who's played in a band for any length of time knows this. So consequently, most parents tend to discourage their children from pursuing a career in them. Myself included. My 12 year old loves to draw, sing, dance, and play the piano. She is immensely talented. But I know that unless she wants to work at Starbucks and starve for most of her life, she's going to have get a "real job". Which to me generally means settling for something you have very little interest in, but provides you with the means to feed and clothe yourself. Part of me wants her to follow her creative passions and be fulfilled, but another part of me hopes she doesn't. Because I want her to be able to live comfortably and avoid a life of financial hardship and struggle. I hate that our culture forces me to feel this way.

    I believe that there's a definite social prejudice towards artists and musicians. I think most people tend to view what they do as little more than a pleasant distraction. Nobody has a problem if you want to spend your evenings and weekends playing your little songs or doing your weird little drawings, but tell them you want to do it for a living and they'll look at you like you're insane. Our culture kills an artist's drive to create because artists aren't encouraged or respected. The popular attitude is that unless you're producing value for someone else by working 12 or 14 hours a day and coming home dirty and exhausted, it's not "real work".

    A beautiful painting, an engrossing story, the perfect 3 minute rock and roll song.....these are the things that make life worth living, yet we've set up a system where those who would have the desire to create them are discouraged at every turn by the need to survive within that system.
     
  2. rangercaster

    rangercaster Friend of Leo's

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    Can't disagree with anything you said ...
     
  3. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    These are the things that make life fun or somewhat interesting to people. They aren't the things that make life worth living. Food, shelter, a safe place to raise your kids, the mechanisms to pass on knowledge and survival skills to offspring, to build things that serve others, those are the things that make life worth living. Art has always been and will always be a luxury. If all the billionaire rock stars disappeared in a mysterious gardening accident, we'd still make music to entertain ourselves at night. We as a species are drawn to communicate. So we'll always make art whether we are paid for it or not.

    (Having this conversation more frequently now as the same school board yahoos who give absolutely nothing to athletic programs cry to everyone about how important it is to have the arts and music in our schools. They are all equally important because having a broad understanding of culture, arts and acquiring the characteristics that athletics and team sports rewards turns kids into more interesting and resourceful adults. It's all important, but none of it is essential.)

    Mike Rowe had a great segment on Youtube about "following your passion" and what a dumb idea that is for most people. The punchline is, "Never follow your passion, but always take it with you."

    Art as a commodity is and should always be dependent on the discretionary spending of the consumers. I don't think its undervalued at all. I think it is valued precisely at a level we are willing to pay for it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
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  4. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yes, in that thread I mentioned that it is much more important to go with your passion as a career than concerned about future salary stuff. As a board member of our local county Arts Council, our mission is to raise the importance of the Arts in society. It seems like it has been some of the first things dropped in school and society does not want to pay for it in schools. It seems like there is too much emphasis on money as a measure of success. A pity and wrong in many respects.
     
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  5. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    These kind of threads are doomed.
    They’re bound to become emotional, and political.
    The lock logo looms!
    Sadly, discussing it here won't help.
     
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  6. joealso

    joealso Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I agree. I come from a family of artists going back at least 120 years. Some of my grandfather's work has been seen by millions of people. I was raised through my teen years by a single mother who made her living selling her artwork. That was only possible because she received encouragement and was able to attend the NY School for the Arts instead of regular high school.

    Society in general, and our educational system in particular, doesn't do a good job of presenting the arts as a viable way of making a living.
     
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  7. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    There's hundreds of thousands of starving artists who also received encouragement and formal training. She was able to make a living because she made art people were willing to buy. I suspect that at the end of the day, talent and smarts probably opened more doors for the woman mentioned above then any amount of encouragement did.
     
  8. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Holic

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    I've been involved in publishing my whole career, as an editor, author, and creative director. I count myself very lucky that I was able to work in an area I love that, for a long time anyway, actually payed a living wage. I lucked into a niche of publishing that was really blowing up at that moment. It's tapered off now, but someone like me with almost 40 years of experience can still make a decent living at it. Someone trying to get into it fresh out of school, as I did in 1980, wouldn't stand much of a chance.
     
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  9. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I think team sports has gone way too far in the academic world. I could easily debate the merits of Arts over athletics, but I would much rather see more balance and much more effort/priority in the basic academics. Of course, our education system has been under blatant attack for decades now. A very sad trend.
     
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  10. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Just jumping off this for my point.

    The reason to study art, music, athletics, or even higher math isn't to make one an artist, musician, athlete or mathematician. Even though some people become those as their vocation.

    The reason to study those is because it changes how you think. For the better. Whether or not you ever again make art or music or play a game or do calculus.
     
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  11. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    You can enjoy the arts while not making them your profession, that's the difference.

    If not enough people decide to go into the arts as a full time job there won't be enough arts to go around and amateurs will pick up the slack.

    You can't go into the arts for your living very well if society can't provide you clean water, living space, etc.. and if you're going to play musical instruments that require electricity than yah, electricians are kind of a pre-req.

    NO arguments from me that sports are currently overemphasized over the arts. Everybody thinks they're going to go PRO, when in reality it's just a lottery ticket. On the flip side I think there are plenty of people that think the arts are just something to pad your college applications with and then you can abandon them.
     
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  12. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Athletics are part of creating a well rounded young adult. That's what education is all about, creating better adults than the generation they follow. Our education system has always been and will always be under scrutiny, as it should. That's an indication of a healthy system. When we just ignore it, it tends to wander away from its original purpose. So in short, its not under attack, its' being held accountable.
     
  13. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Bingo. Thank you for saying that. The world doesn't need more artists and baseball players. But it does need resourceful, confident people who can think on their feet and use human capital and available resources to continue to make our little corner of the world a little bit better.

    The arts, athletics, liberal arts, math, history, science; These are building blocks to making the kind of citizens who imagine things, build things, provide services.
     
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  14. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    They are but it has trended towards a winner take all hyper-competitive youth sports environment where too much emphasis is placed on sports at the cost of everything else.

    The goal is supposed to be to create a lifelong ability to stay physically fit & healthy and promote teamwork. Instead we get stuff like people broken from contact sports and overuse injuries by the time they're 18 and then they sit on the couch.

    I actually think team sports fail at helping people learn how to stay fit & healthy for life quite a bit. At least quite a bit more than more individual sports where the individual has to find motivation from within and learn how to progress on their own.
     
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  15. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    it is a tough situation for artists these days.

    Many of us came of age in those crazy days of the 60's, 70's and 80's. Those days the record companies had it all figured out, and they were raking in the cash. Not so much anymore!

    It is interesting to note that humans (and pre-sapiens) were making cave paintings, long before they were working for a living.

    JuneauMike makes a point that artists get exactly what they deserve - which is what the market will pay for their work. It is true, but it is sad. It is sad that somewhere along the line we all decided that market-driven competition is really great, and really real, and is obviously the only way in which any human activity can be judged. Do you produce something that makes money? No? well too bad - you are a loser.

    I don't recall ever having any kind of discussion about this, or any kind of popular vote. This is economics as written by men in the 18th century, and we seem to have gotten stuck with it. The Social Contract...

    You would think that by now we would have peeked out from under the covers and realised that maybe all those guys were just spouting nonsense.
     
  16. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I am going to take your suggestion here and debate this topic elsewhere. Thank you for the warning @brookdalebill .
     
  17. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don't disagree but I thought you were about to make another point - which is...

    We as a society want to give trophies to everyone who expresses interest in some form of art.

    The honest truth is, we have a massive number of people who have aspirations but in the long haul, they'd better have a "real" occupation otherwise they will starve. Everyone is invited to join the team; nobody is excluded and the net result gives everyone a warm feeling but the "art" itself is going to be thrown in the dumpster.
     
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  18. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    I suppose that depends on your perspective. My son is active in high school sports, we essentially live on an island so every competition involves air travel and our school district gives zero dollars to athletics.

    Competition is important in life. Competition in the arts is downright brutal as any struggling musician will attest. And physical fitness is not the point of athletics. Work ethic, delayed gratification, goal setting, constant self-inventory and improvement, interpersonal cooperation, sacrifice for a shared goal, etc. Honestly, I've seen more of a microcosm of life in a football team then I've ever seen in an art class. But we're all free to disagree.
     
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  19. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    "Our culture kills an artist's drive to create because artists aren't encouraged or respected."
    I have NEVER required society's approval or endorsement to create my "art". In addition to music, I have also painted and sculpted out of a compulsion to do so. One of the twentieth century's most recognized classical composers was Charles Ives. He was a wealthy insurance executive who wrote music in his spare time. The idea that somehow society owes a living to people to create second and third rate art of any kind is ridiculous. Art WILL be created.....it can never be stopped, as long as human beings are alive and breathing.
    I'm all for entertainment, and I agree that too much of what's popular today sinks to the lowest common denominator, but I'm not of that world anyway. It's a very cliched idea....but, "To thine own self be true....and everything else will fall into place." ;)
     
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  20. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Holic

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    Something to consider --

    When we look at the art of civilizations past, such as ancient Egypt or Greece, we see significant fluctuations in its quantity and quality over the centuries. Sometimes the arts languished and became lackluster, other times they flourished to rival or surpass anything we do now. A key factor here is that high points in artistic achievement almost always coincide with periods of prosperity when the king, pharaoh, other wealthy aristocrats, or the government at large could fund artists. When all the public funds were going into fighting wars or battling natural disasters, the arts declined.
     
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