Gary Gutting worries about the loss of interest in studying and supporting the humanities:

…highly gifted and relatively successful writers, artists and musicians generally are not able earn a living from their talents. The very few who become superstars are very well rewarded. But almost all the others — poets, novelists, actors, singers, artists — must either have a partner whose income supports them or a “day job” to pay the bills. Even writers who are regularly published by major houses or win major prizes cannot always live on their earnings.

…for those with humanistic and artistic life interests, our economic system has almost nothing to offer.

We are rightly concerned about the plight of the economic middle class, which finds it harder and harder to find good jobs, as wealth shifts to the upper class. But we have paid scant attention to the cultural middle class, those with strong humanist interests and abilities who can’t reach the very highest levels, which provide almost all the cultural rewards of meaningful work.

Fair treatment for writers and artists is an even more difficult matter, which will ultimately require a major change in how we think about support for the arts. Fortunately, however, we already have an excellent model, in our support of athletics…

To cite just one striking example, the Minnesota State Legislature recently appropriated over $500 million to help build the Vikings a new stadium. At the same time, the Minnesota Orchestra is close to financial disaster because it can’t erase a $6 million deficit. If the Legislature had diverted only 10 percent of its support for football, it would have covered that deficit for the next eight years.

goncharova_motherMother, 1910
Natalia Goncharova
(Russian artist, 1881-1962)

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