Monday, August 23, 2010

Disgust and Dismay

I would like to be able to separate my personal feelings regarding life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (and that includes music on the top of the list) from the disgust and dismay that I feel when reading about one of New York's biggest patrons.


Anonymous said...

Strauss was an unhappy member of the Nazi party while Carl Orff was a willing member of that same party. Do you shun Orff Schulwerk and the likes of Carmina Burana with the disgust and dismay? Or works by members of the Union of Soviet Composers? Your state of Illinois is inudated with public debt like so many, and the arts will require private funding to keep them afloat from whatever sources one can find in the environment of massive public debt and competition from all corners for the public dollar. Only months ago you were dismayed at a string program being cut because of lack of funding. I believe it was public funding which was cut. I assume such funding problems for the arts wíll intensify as public funding from government draws off money for the arts, by either shrinking government budgets from the Left who are running out of revenue and running up unsustainable debt as from the Right which will run out of revenue in a slightly different manner. Charitable funds will be the avenue through which arts and arts education will be funded, as sponsors throughout history have funded the arts. Nazi or Communist, the state-dictated arts scene was never particularly vital, while the individuality of the artist remains so throughout time and history. My digust and dismay is reserved for those who would not support arts at all, of whatever stripe, tribe, party or faction they may be. They are found on both sides of the political divide, as I have seen it to be. Fiscl chickens are coming home to roost, courtesy of both sides of the political divide. So it seems to me, a lonely non-partisan in a world of parties. Since I donot seek nor require public funding, it is pleasant to fill the empty page with work, not worry.

Michael Darnton said...

"My digust and dismay is reserved for those who would not support arts at all, of whatever stripe, tribe, party or faction they may be. "

Anonymous, do you really mean that? If so, I have some disgust and dismay for you. I can think of much worse things in this world than not supporting the arts, and I can't believe that you "reserve" your disgust and dismay only for those who don't support the arts. What a tiny world you must live in!

Anonymous said...

Some folks´ politics have their Leftist billlionaires, and opposing folks´ politics have their Right-wing billionaires.

When I speak of people NOT supporting the arts, I mean folks who wouldn´t buy a ticket at face value, or write their own support check for a local arts organization. Or billionaires who don´t write checks for the arts. That is the only to build real support for the arts, as I see it in my "tiny world."

Because without that kind of grassroots support for the arts, in the next years of budgetary distress in the public sector brought to us by both sides of the political divide, many who receive most of their support from this sector will be seeing their source of funding drying up. If that is a "tiny world" view, then the world is itself a tiny place with the same fiscal tides washing over it all.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Darnton: For a Chicago denizen and violin expert considering public funding issues for the arts, here are some data points to consider:

"Chicago, the third most-populous U.S. city, had its creditworthiness on $6.8 billion of general- obligation debt cut one level by Fitch Ratings because declining tax revenue has weakened its finances." Business Week, August 2010

"State Debt Woes Grow Too Big to Camouflage," New York Times, March 2010

"Illinois now has public debt of more than $130 billion. ... Pension Fund $61 Billion Underwater," Global Economic Analysis, February 2010

It is a fiscal reality that someone somewhere in your neck of the woods will be deciding what to cut, and sadly I wager arts funding which will affect many you know will be high on their list, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Socialist or anarchist. Or you will be paying a lot more in taxes to keep your business viable, and precious little if any of that will go to the arts. I foresee disgust and dismay being rather more universal emotional responses in the coming years. Alas.

Elaine Fine said...

This has nothing to do with Illinois politics, or the state-run patronage programs (like the Soviet Union). It has to do with ethics. Personal ones.

The idea of going to see and hear something a hall at Lincoln Center (bearing his name) built with money from an obscenely rich person of questionable moral intentions (come on--creating a faux grassroots organization basically to mock the goverment and ultimately keep him from having to pay tax on the vast amounts of money that he doesn't give to tax-deductible arts organizations) doesn't sit well with me.

Perhaps it's a knee-jerk reaction. I once had a job in Austria 30 years ago that was supported by Austrian WWII veterans (something I only truly understood when I had to play at the main meeting of all the Austrian WWII veterans organizations, after which I submitted my resignation).

Granted, it was a small town, and their financial support of the arts, as they were there, is minuscule compared to the Koch patronage of Lincoln Center.

There are lots of wealthy people who don't give a fig about music or art. That's not a problem for me at all. I'm sure that in this very large world they care about other things.

It's the people who use their wealth for show (especially when they have so much that it doesn't matter) and for accolades, as well as to keep their names attached (physically, in this case) to "good causes," and try to keep them hidden from the harmful causes that they support.

Actually the Koch support of music in New York gets a great deal of "good cause" bang for the buck. It is a relatively cheap personal investment for David (I imagine it only a fraction of a percent of the money he shells out to the people who promote his other hobbies). I also imagine that the brothers and their families and friends (they want to impress) always get great seats.

Another Illinoisan said...

Brava, Elaine.

Anonymous said...

You write, "It's the people who use their wealth for show (especially when they have so much that it doesn't matter) and for accolades, as well as to keep their names attached (physically, in this case) to 'good causes,' and try to keep them hidden from the harmful causes that they support."

As examples of people seeing their names associated with their arts philanthropy, an example is the Nichols Concert Hall at the Music Institue of Chicago, named after Nichols family who also operate the John D. And Alexandra C. Nichols Family Foundation, with Alexandra Nichols, Chairman of the Board, Music Institute of Chicago, and they are proud that the hall "received the prestigious Richard H. Driehaus Award for best adaptive use by the Landmark Preservation Council of Illinois, an award named after someone else whose work was important too. A program of the Music Institute takes place at the Ravinia Festival in the "John D. Harza Building, home of the Steans Institute for Young Artists," a building and an institue named after people. Orchestra Hall in Chicago has "Theodore Thomas Orchestra Hall" inscribed in its façade, and one of its rehearsal and performance spaces is named Buntrock Hall, after the Dean and Rosemarie Buntrock Foundation. In southern California there are halls and music events and positions sponsored by Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and Broad Art Foundation and Broad Contemporary Art Museum. Shall we examine all their politcs, and that of every philanthropist?

Nichols, Dreihaus, Harza, Steans, Buntrock, Broad, or Koch. People name things after themselves, and get public recognition for their philanthrophy. The New York Times article was not really about Koch arts philanthropy, because the article denigrates a political stance not its own while supporting one about which it has often written. But society is made up off more than one approved political view in a true democracy -- from soup to nuts. Your opinion that the Koch contributions to arts in New York are meant to obscure their "harmful" political activities seems brightly colored by politics, your personal politics being part of your personal morality and outlook on life, as you offer your political opinion that the Kochs have "harmful causes that they support." That's the view of your politics, personal and deeply involved in your ethics and morality. But politics none the less, personal and local, as well as public and national. Somehow I fear neither their "harmful causes" nor your causes as others might see them "harmful," because the body politic is made of both and more, after the knee-jerk reactions are set aside. Else there is no room in the world for someone, and I am grateful the rich donate to the arts, even if they put their name on things. They will never replace the artists and the artists' works, because neither money, nor power nor political governance can replace the ultimate independence and value of the artistic spirit and its abiding artifacts which do not obey the grasp of politics nor the shackles of wealth or poverty.