University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Arts Collection

Page View

Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: tenth anniversary issue

[Unfulfilled opportunities in the arts: a symposium],   pp. [7]-24 PDF (17.0 MB)

Page 9

artists and artistic directors who are
responsible for those very few institutions
and companies on which a professional
standard depends. Ten years ago by and
large most of these leaders, spurred by their
own compulsive natures, struggled to
maintain standards with minimal budgets in
activities that were actually subsidized
by the artists themselves, through economic
and social abnegations that made it
almost impossible even to sort out a
decent personal life for themselves. Today a
few of these groups have more financial
resources with which to work and they
have largely overcome the problem of
attracting audiences. But in making these
achievements they have stretched themselves
even more, and the continued stretching
and the unceasing inflation of needs and
costs have sapped their energies and
often impaired their sense of commitment.
As a national resource, which in absolute
numbers is already inadequate to maintain
the art at decent levels, they risk being
overwhelmed. Suspicious as they are by
nature of what value their government
puts upon them, they fend off the
amateur with one hand with the other
outstretched to tax-supported agencies as
the only final hope for adequate
underpinning of what they do.
The other great cause for concern is the
steady erosion of standards of craft. In
1900 the United States, except for a few
unusual individual manifestations, was not
thought of as a model of artistic standards
or even of artistic activity. Yet some of
the crafts in the creative and performing
arts which Americans brought into this
century may have been greatly eroded by
the time the century closes. On the one
hand these standards have been generalized
and popularized by a long period of
amateur activity accepted by the public
without much discrimination. On the other
hand, the speedup of communication and
the rise of a mass culture has allowed
many to take the easy way and substitute
for artistic craft mere novelty or some new
sensation. It is not a question of avant-
garde or experimental repertoire or
creative artifacts. The question is not
whether an artifact or a new work is
experimental but of how it is done and by
what standards of craft that can perpetuate
the development of the art itself. Even
our colleges and universities, which by and
large have had more funds at their
disposal in the cultural field, have in many
ways contributed to a steady amateurization
and popularization in standards of craft.
Money will not by itself cure either of these
problems. But without increased financial
resources in this inflationary period the
artist, the group, the training institution
has little chance of electing the steady,
timeless pursuit of craft and of excellence.
Were the United States in an ideal situation
in terms of great problems pressing on
the federal budget, this would be the time
to put vast resources into the National
Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities.
But even in the current threatening situation,
some greater flexibility and some larger
expression of hope needs to be given
to the human imagination and to the
intellectual and artistic resources that have
so much to do with the quality of our
Statement by Norman Lloyd, Director,
Arts Program, The Rockefeller Foundation.
The greatest unfulfilled opportunity in the
arts is that of making the arts closer to the
center of our daily living. We have set the
arts apart from us, making them

Go up to Top of Page