“Money is itself a kind of reductionism. It packs whole universes into a handful of coppers.”- Eagleton
A recent musicians’ union magazine bore the headline that for every £1 cut in arts funding £2 was lost to the economy in returns on this investment. This is itself false economy. However, what was not addressed, on the front page at least, was the other values art has to society.
To resolve the issue of funding makers purely for the sake of unleashing their creativity, the first question to be examined is how much we value art, and it’s makers, in our collective society? Culture and entertainment are big business in Britain and other developed, capitalist countries.
Art’s value is difficult to quantify. Most commonly people turn to record sales, the millions spent by collectors on artwork originals and how many copies of the latest novel have been sold. But, this only shows part of the picture. If we take money from the equation what else are we left with? This will be different for everyone and much harder to quantify in a way that can be usefully communicated. Some examples could be: comfort gained from a story, the euphoria of listening to your favourite band, and the excitement of watching the next hotly anticipated film. Is it possible, as some may argue to put a monetary value on these experiences? Surely the consumption of art is fundamentally incompatible with the exchange of currency.
Money in fact, in one way or another, reduces every moment of art to a single transaction of currency. It takes all of these emotions and in a prosaic way overrides every other value and feeling associated with the moment of expression. The experience is only there if the consumer has the funds to pay for it and feels it is worth the price asked for. This means before the maker and consumer even meet there has been a financial transaction that structures their relationship thereafter.
So the struggle is to come to a collective decision on how much society values art and find a way of funding this. This then removes the reductionist power of money from art, the makers and the consumers and in turn means art becomes equally available to all.