The piece of writing you should submit must address ONE of the following options, and should be 2,000 words in length:
Write a reflective piece about an issue pertinent to the cultural and creative industries
Should governments subsidise the arts? Explain your answer using relevant examples to illustrate your points
Your essay will demonstrate your ability to:
Investigate the topic/question
Source apposite material
Undertake original research
Construct a coherent argument
Use appropriate evidence and source material to support your arguments, such as textbooks, journal articles, newspaper articles and internet sources. Please include AT LEAST five sources. Ensure that you cite these using the Harvard referencing system and provide a full bibliography at the end of your essay.
We will be using plagiarism software to check that your essay has not been submitted by another student or to another institution, either in whole or in part; if you are found to have plagiarised then your application will be immediately rejected. Our system will detect self-plagiarism, i.e. if you have submitted any portion of your essay to another UK institution; your essay must therefore be original and specific to this applicatio
Should governments subsidize the arts?
Since the 20th century, the market for culture becomes more and more perfect, the channels for artists to obtain profits through their work have also become more open. However, it turns out that some art products still can not be fully rewarded, and the old problem of artists’ poverty has not yet been satisfactorily solved. They can create art that the public needs only if their life is safeguarded, and it can not be ensured simply by relying on the market (Keynes, 2012). Then whether governments should subsidize art? This issue has long been one of the major issues of social debate. This essay will cite relevant scholars' theories and views as well as cases to discuss the issue from the three aspects of art's publicity, independence and commercialization. Finally, the author puts forward his own opinion about that.
2.0 Main Body
2.1 Publicity of art
Keynes (2012) repeatedly emphasized that art is part of public cultural life and that it is governments’ responsibility to provide the public with good art. If ancient grace hosts’ sponsoring art is based on personal hobbies and needs, then social and government funding of the arts is based on concerns for public cultural life. "Publicity" is the main reason for all the support for that governments should sponsor art (Keynes, 2012). Mulcahy (1982), Knulst (1983), Bogt and Tillema (2016), Zheng (2017) also pointed out from the perspective of the public nature of art that there are three reasons for why governments should subsidize art. First, art brings an external effect on society as a whole, such as the cultural heritage preserved for future generations, the contribution to liberal arts education, and the collective benefits brought by artistic innovation (Mulcahy, 1982; Zheng, 2017). Second, the enjoyment of art is an acquired taste, and many members of the public lack the knowledge and experience to make informed choices (Mulcahy, 1982; Knulst, 1983). Third, considering fairness, all citizens, at a minimum, should have certain access to human art and cultural heritage, which requires the use of subsidies to overcome the high prices and low-income barriers as well as the geographical barriers to enable people to have an access to specific cultural and art products and services (Mulcahy, 1982; Bogt and Tillema, 2016).
However, many scholars have also questioned the provision of government sponsorship because of the publicity of art. Heilbrun and Gray (2001) pointed out that art promotes national identity and prestige, but the national pride may be the evil of this era, which should not be subsidized. Or, before getting artistic subsidies, people should not only prove that subsidies are a possible way to achieve effective goals, but also confirm that this is the lowest cost method. For example, if national prestige is worth supporting, but why they subsidize art instead of sports? Keynes (2012), Heilbrun and Gray (2001) figured that good art does indeed bring social progress, however, what about those who enjoy bad opera? And there is not a lot of scientific evidence which supports the assertion that art has a good influence on personality or behavior (Peacock, 1969). Williams (1989) analyzed that governments’ subsidies for art amounts to forcing all classes to subsidize a particular class, and that all taxes levied to provide subsidies inevitably affect the consumption of some people. Take opera as an example, some taxpayers prefer to spend money on unsubsidized films, to subsidize opera undoubtedly will harm the interests of this part of the public.
2.2 Independence of art
Keynes (2012) found that it is not easy to help artists. Governments must subsidize the arts, but they can not hinder the independence of artists. Keynes (2012) and Mulcahy (1982) thought that this is entirely possible. Therefore, it should not oppose the government-sponsored art in the light of the possible infringement of artistic independence. Taking Music and Arts Association for example, it gains funds from the Ministry of Finance, and the Education President, but it is not an official agency, its policy is to give the power of artistic control to the relevant groups and individuals. The artists are based on their own willingness to show different talents and goodwill. Keynes (2012) was aware of the risk of governments’ subsidizing art, thus he re-emphasized the particularity and freedom of artistic creation: considering its nature, an artist's work has personal characteristics in all its aspects and it is free, unrestrained, unorganized and uncontrolled. An artist can act according to his own spirit and it can not ask him to move towards a certain direction. Mulcahy (1982) commented that the mission of official agencies is not preaching, censorship, but encouragement, enhancing confidence and provision of opportunities.
Keynes and other scholars proposed that the principle of government-sponsored art, which is theoretically almost perfect, but in reality, this is not the case. Williams (1989) found that in Europe, art funding mainly comes from central or local governments. Such grants are relatively simple, fixed and concentrated, they are mainly implemented by large cultural departments. At the same time, the artistic talents have a strong political nature because they usually belong to the civil servant sequence or belong to the political beneficiaries of the ruling party. It is worth noting that this system provides smooth and steady funding for art institutions, at the same time, it also potentially separates artists as "insiders" and "outsiders." Accordingly, the inside art groups receive substantial funding each year, while those outside art organizations receive very little funding (Williams, 1989). The same situation is also found in the United States. It is difficult for the government to work hard, fairly and widely to draw the opinions of art experts and the public to achieve fairness and justice. The reason is very simple, the logic of government's operation is not consistent with the logic of art production. An important feature of culture and the arts is that there is no universally accepted evaluation criterion for artists and art products. It is very difficult for governments and their represented public opinions to correctly evaluate art creation (Heilbrun, and Gray, 2001).
2.3 Commercialization of art
Keynes (2012) deemed that state support for art can achieve the self-financing of art, and ultimately achieving its own development without the aid of state subsidies, and at the same time it can contribute to the social and economic development. The most notable case is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the establishment of the museum has contributed to the regeneration of a declining urban area and has succeeded in shaping a new regional style and image, which is taken as an important case of promotion of urban regeneration by art. Mulcahy (1982) further pointed out that there is more protection for an artist's independence in creation after the realization of self-financing by art, and they can create more excellent and more artistic works without the control of market economy and money, of course, it's good, but in reality it's another story. First, even with state funding, the number of cases in which art institutions are able to achieve self-financing is small, one third of the artists in Austria fell below the poverty line by 2008. In the early 2000s, in most countries, very few large theaters, bands or public libraries were likely to reach the break-even point simply by payment from their frequent visitors (Heilbrun and Gray, 2001; Peacock, 1992). Since the 1960s, through advertising and sponsorships, art has been put under a new market pressure. Various business standards and awareness influence the creation of art. Art creation has become a business, even though they have state's support. Lastly, those reputable arts agencies have received large sums of money from art council, but they were not only used as art but also as an attraction for touring, and they were used in commercial entertainment (Williams, 1989)). In the current social conditions, art can not possibly achieve self-financing because of receiving government subsidies, and it will not certainly be able to achieve its independence from commercial attacks and influences.