Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Social Democracy, Music, and ex-Leftism

Pitchfork Media has an interesting piece on the role of the state in financially supporting musicians and its local cultural industries, specifically in Scandinavian countries. It’s an interesting piece that does bring in some good questions about the role government handouts play in supporting the arts and the health of a society.

I don’t agree with every point he makes, but David Swindle at Front Page Magazine has a two pieces about his move from “progressivism” to working at David Horowitz’s neoconservative Freedom Center. Also worth a look.


Graeme said...

Interesting stuff there on music and the role of the state. This, about how the Canadian government is funding commercially viable labels at the expense of smaller, more experimental labels, is interesting and worth a read. Does a label like Arts & Crafts need government support when they're almost certainly making money because of artists like Feist and Broken Social Scene when an electroacoustic label like Empreintes Digitales isn't getting state money anymore because they don't sell enough records--and never will? I suppose it depends on what the government is looking to do. In Canada's case, it seems that the (Conservative) government is looking more and more towards funding the arts not because art is good in itself (and furthermore helps to promote and create Canadian culture and identity) and is thus worth funding, but rather because the arts can be viable financially and contribute to the economy.

Roland Dodds said...


Thanks for the link to that piece on Canadian music and government support. Interesting stuff. I suppose this is a problem anytime the government gets involved in funding specific styles/labels/bands over others. When I consider Sweden, how much actual support does the Knife or Robyn need? Maybe it was helpful in their early days to put out records on the world stage, but at this point, there are surely bands and labels who need the money more.

More importantly, and something brought up in your comment, is how do they decide who is receiving the funding? What is a cultural export worth sustaining? Because I think Feist and Broken Social Scene will do find in American and British markets without Canadian government support, I don’t think it’s in the people’s best interest to fund these groups. I would rather see the type of music that is less commercially viable receive funds for obvious reasons.

Graeme said...

I had some friends who applied for--and recieved--a grant (I'm not sure which one they got--I assume that it was FACTOR, but I could be wrong) from the Canadian government for their band a few years ago and I don't know exactly what their application entailed, but I do remember another friend of mine who was talented at this sort of thing working really hard to put together a professional-looking press kit that showed that this band was commercially viable, because that's apparently what the people assessing the grant applications wanted. FACTOR (or whoever it was they applied to) also supposedly had a "heavy music" person or people who assessed the applications of heavy bands. Maybe the application underwent a process of peer review?

If you look at the "approvals" section of the FACTOR website you can see who recieved grants this year. It would be interesting to see who applied versus who got the money because it seems that the awards tend pretty heavily in an indie-ish direction. Does this represent who applied for the grants (there are music funding bodies other than FACTOR), or are indie bands getting a disproportionate share of funding because Canadian indie music is particularly popular now?