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They often see American culture as hegemonistic -- a totalizing and destructive assault on the humanistic, cultural and social structures they have worked so long and hard to create. A general sense of the different perspectives concerning communal identity can be illustrated with an example now widely discussed in the States. Many Americans have seen how corporate-owned strip malls and Wal-Marts have deeply affected their cities and towns.
The old downtown areas are abandoned as customers move to corporate businesses on the edge of town. Communal identity and autonomy, which are an important part of cultural expression, are replaced with a relatively isomorphic corporatism. Europeans struggle to maintain a different model. Most cities and towns have thousand year histories that are reflected in the architectural and other cultural treasures of their various municipal centers. They employ zoning laws and other regulations, as well as public education, to protect their cities from the Wal-Martization that would be caused by embracing American-styled neo-liberalism.
Europeans have large department stores and the occasional K-Mart, but their influence is kept within balance. They would consider the losses to their cultural identity caused by corporate uniformity to be too great. They feel these institutions standardize culture into mass markets that reduce communal identity. Far from making music even more commercial, the European response has been to create a balance with public arts funding.
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In Germany, for example, cities with more than about , people often have a full-time orchestra, opera house, and theater company that are state- and municipally owned. A good deal of funding for these groups is set aside for new music. Europeans also administer this arts funding locally, and not from a remote Federal organization such as the NEA.
As a result, the European view is likely to reject a superficial form of postmodernism that presumes to flow with an exaggerated ease from rock to Brahms, as if distinctions between the production, marketing, and reception of commercial and classical music could be brushed aside. They know that the production costs for recording a five-piece rock band are far smaller and the audience vastly larger than for a recording of an opera that would require to people and reach an audience not even a tenth the size.
They know that a festival for new orchestral music such as at Donaueschingen might have standing-room-only crowds year after year, but that such endeavors cannot be designed to make a profit. This is not merely a matter of history or coincidence. Europeans use their local public cultural institutions to educate their children and this creates a wide appreciation for classical music. The popularity is also based on a sense of communal pride. They support their local cultural institutions almost like they were sports teams.
Transatlantic Divide: Comparing American and European Society - AbeBooks:
European society illustrates that music education leads to forms of creativity and autonomy that are often antithetic to mass media. The European view is not based on elitism or a dismissal of popular culture, but on an understanding that an unmitigated capitalism is not a seamless, all-encompassing paradigm - particularly when it comes to cultural expression. In reality, the large majority of cultural offerings come from Manhattan and a few other cities, even though the country has million people.
And the situation is similar in many of our heartland cities.
International comparisons might illustrate this point. Germany, for example, has one full-time, year-round orchestra for every , people, while the United States has one for every 14 million or 23 times less per capita. Germany has about 80 year-round opera houses, while the U. Even the Met only has a seven-month season. These numbers mean that larger German cities often have several orchestras. Munich has seven full-time, year-round professional orchestras, two full-time, year-round opera houses one with a large resident ballet troupe, as well as two full-time, large, spoken-word theaters for a population of only 1.
Berlin has three full-time, year-round opera houses, though they may eventually have to close one due to the costs of rebuilding the city after reunification. If America averaged the same ratios per capita as Germany, it would have full-time, year-round orchestras instead of about If New York City had the same number of orchestras per capita as Munich it would have about If New York City had the same number of full-time operas as Berlin per capita it would have six.
Areas such as Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx would be nationally and internationally important cultural centers. The reality is somewhat different. California would have about 60 full-time, year-round professional orchestras.
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Like Germany, the U. There would be little unemployment for these artists. With that much creativity, it is unlikely Americans would stick to European repertoire and models.
Even with half the German ratios, a starkly American musical culture would evolve that would likely change history. It is also essential and informative to place these numbers in the context of the dismal social conditions in almost all major American cities, since these are areas where classical music would normally thrive. A recent article in The New York Times , for example, notes that Philadelphia has 14, abandoned buildings in a dangerous state of collapse, 31, trash-strewn vacant lots, 60, abandoned autos, and has lost 75, citizens in recent years.
Louis and Detroit, just to name a few, show that Philadelphia is hardly an exception. The populations living in our dehumanizing ghettos are measured in the tens of millions. It seems very likely that the problems with arts funding in America are closely related to the same social forces that have caused the country to neglect its urban environments.
This naturally leaves many Europeans wondering why America is so intent on exporting its economic and cultural models. The problems of arts funding are seldom the topic of genuinely serious and sustained political discussion. The cultural and political system has become so isomorphic that most Americans do not even consider that alternatives could be created to institutions such as network television and Hollywood.
That much funding would put them on par with the best opera houses in the world, and as noted, likely lead to forms of expression more distinctly American. Imagine what five percent would do.
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These examples awaken us to the Orwellian realities of our country and how different it could be. Given our wealth, talent, and educational resources, we are losing our chance to be the Athens of the modern world. We also see that cultural isomorphism leads to the suppression of political, social and cultural discourse. Discussions outside the neo-liberal paradigm are becoming increasingly rare.
How astounding, for example, that a U. Europeans would find this incomprehensible. And yet the topic is once again being opportunistically exploited as a political battering ram. In Europe, by contrast, funding for the arts is a central platform of every major political party. Lively and varied artistic expression is considered one of the most important forums for national discourse. Politicians literally search for opportunities to speak about the arts because it is politically advantageous.
The dialog is generally intelligent, meaningful, and carefully considered.
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Summary and Conclusion. Europeans use public funding to provide alternatives to the marketplace for cultural expression.
handtwins.com/sitemap3.xml This reinforces freedom of artistic expression and deeply enriches their societies. Our government spends billions on other intellectual spheres, such as education, space exploration and scientific research, but we have seriously limited our cultural lives through a suspicion toward public arts funding.
European politicians avoid attacking the arts for populist and opportunistic political gains. This is a taboo that is seldom, if ever, broken and the perpetrators generally only discredit themselves. After the traumas of both fascism and communism, Europeans realize how destructive the intimidation of artists is to the dignity and cultural identity of society. This no longer happens in Europe, and need not happen in America.
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European arts funding is generally decentralized and administered mostly on the state and municipals levels. Europeans would also find it strange for a federal government to fund the arts in any specific way because it is so difficult at that level to have direct contact with the lives and work of artists and the communities they serve. The NEA and the states must continue to develop arts-funding models directly connected to cities, towns and regional communities.
Europeans use their cultural legacies to establish and assert their place in the world, often through extensive cultural diplomacy.