Why is no-one in America protecting vital cultural interests?

Why is no-one in America protecting vital cultural interests?


norman lebrecht

December 07, 2020

From a new essay by Joseph Horowitz in the American Scholar on the Covid killing of American civilisation:

When the virus hit, the city of Berlin swiftly allocated $320 million to its cultural workers. The German government added $50 billion; its culture minister, Monika Grütters, said, “Artists are indispensable, especially now.” In continental Europe, institutions of culture were already recipients of robust government subsidies—a close relationship to the state was and is an embedded reality.

In the United Kingdom, where government support of the arts is less lavish, the response was slower. But it came. The conductor Simon Rattle, Britain’s most prominent classical musician, loudly complained that nothing was being done. So did Nicholas Kenyon, who runs London’s Barbican Centre. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the culture ministry answered with a $2 billion arts infusion and declared that “the U.K.’s cultural industry is the beating heart of the country.” (British musicians say it’s far too little; one survey showed that up to one-third of them are considering switching careers.)

Here in the United States, the silence remains deafening. We have no Simon Rattle and no Boris Johnson. We do have Nikki Haley. When Congress allocated a mere $250 million for cultural institutions as part of the $2.3 trillion emergency CARES Act, the former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor mused that it should have been spent on something more useful. (“How many more people could have been helped with this money?” she tweeted.) And yet, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the arts account for $878 billion in annual economic impact and more than five million jobs nationally. That’s a bigger share of the economy than transportation, agriculture, and construction. More important, culture is vital to the national good, to the human condition. But that’s something intangible, even controversial.

At a moment when they could vitally contribute to challenged American pride and resilience, the arts are newly encumbered financially: concert halls, theaters, and museums are closed or partly so; ticket revenues are decimated. And this comes in the wake of the devaluation of the arts in favor of STEM, of plummeting humanities enrollment in colleges, of social media incursions on attention span, of long-standing forms of cultural expression being newly examined and castigated as “sexist” and “patriarchal.” Meanwhile, charitable foundations traditionally supportive of the arts are rededicated to another urgent priority: social justice. The young are less inclined to donate to the arts, and everyone is less incentivized to do so since the 2017 changes to our tax code.

More than handwringing, this litany invites historical analysis. Why is no one in Congress or the White House talking about protecting crucial cultural interests, echoing discussions abroad?…

Read on here.



  • Bill says:

    America is half full of uneducated, willfully ignorant dolts through which its woefully outdated, vaguely worded and difficult to change constitution gives them outsized influence and power. It’s as simple as that.
    Next question, please…

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Hey, Bill…. UP YOURS!

      • NotToneDeaf says:

        And here, in two words, we have a perfect example supporting Bill’s comment. America’s answer to anything that is critical: “Up yours.” “America first.” “We’re No. 1.” “Love it or leave it.” It’s the arrogance and hubris that has done it in.

        • Greg Bottini says:

          Where the hell do you get off, NotToneDeaf??
          How DARE you (and Bill) presume to paint all Americans with such a broad brush??
          “America first.” “We’re No. 1.” “Love it or leave it.” I have never ever said ANY of these things, and I personally find these sayings repulsive.
          Well, I’ve got more than two words for YOU, jackass.
          I am an American, and yes, I’m proud of it.
          I am certainly NOT proud of everything my country has done, beginning (but not ending) with the election of the despicable criminal and traitor Trump; and I hate the racism and gun violence, and I hate Trump’s murderously negligent response to The Virus.
          But I was born in the USA and despite everything that goes on here, I would still rather live here than anywhere else. And, since 1970, I’ve voted in EVERY SINGLE ELECTION I’ve been eligible to vote in to try to relieve the many problems we have here.
          Ignoramuses like you and Bill, who are so quick to blame all the world’s problems on the USA, are more than welcome to remain living in your own country(-ies), which, for your information, is (are) ALSO far from perfect.
          You ought to look in a mirror sometime.
          And, by the way, NotToneDeaf: UP YOURS!

          • Greg says:

            Thank you, Greg. While I don’t at all share your views on President Trump, I appreciate hearing from someone proud to be American. We get enough America bashing from the Leftists in our own country, we certainly don’t need to hear uninformed bullsh*t from those living elsewhere.

          • NotToneDeaf says:

            This is hilarious! This, ladies and gentlemen, is America personified as the bully it is. If you’re criticized, god forbid you should look at the criticism and reflect on it and realize that nothing is perfect. But no, instead you revert to swearing, name-calling and jingoism. Thank you for proving my point perfectly. And btw, I’m completely shocked you’re not a Trump supporter since you sound exactly like them. I’d suggest you reflect on that – but I know you’re rather spend your time fantasizing about beating me up. USA #1, right?

          • Padma E. says:

            “If you’re criticized, God (corrected) forbid you should look at the criticism and reflect on it.” like the degenerate left with their ANTIFA and BLM types having absolutely no Democrat saying “educated adults solve problems with their minds, not through violence and crime”. Is that what you were trying to imply??

            You people lost a lot of adults when Hillary was defeated in 2016. Since then many more have abandoned the sloths on the left due to your destructive behavior and lies. It’s no wonder Biden and Harris haven’t been more proud of their “win” with all of the media having to speak for them. Biden can’t even play with his own dog without injuring his tired body let alone speak. His “IIIIIIIII” dementia is too funny for a man who doesn’t even know where he is most of the time.

            If you want real swearing and disgusting behavior, watch your own party including the hideous Congress people like Pelosi and Talib along with the dnc, blm and antifa.

          • William Safford says:

            “If you want real swearing and disgusting behavior, watch your own party including the hideous Congress people like Pelosi and Talib along with the dnc, blm and antifa.”

            This comment damns you much more than it says about them.

          • Anon says:

            It’s a true statement of fact.

            Of course, nobody asked you as usual William. Go take your meds and stay off the boards.

          • William Safford says:

            Pray tell what “fact” that might be. It certainly is not in evidence.

            I replied to a message that contained right-wing slurs against politicians and social movements.

            If you can produce a fact, then let’s have a fact-based discussion.

          • Greg Bottini says:

            NotToneDeaf, you’re an idiot.
            You didn’t even READ my comment, did you? Or were the words I wrote too big for you to understand? You can get a grownup to help you, you know.
            “USA #1, right?” WRONG. Read my comment.
            “….god forbid you should look at the criticism and reflect on it and realize that nothing is perfect”? WRONG. In fact, realizing that nothing is perfect is exactly one of the things I wrote about in my comment.
            “I’m completely shocked you’re not a Trump supporter since you sound exactly like them”? WRONG. Trump supporters love Trump, gun violence and racism – again, read my comment.
            “….I know you’re rather spend your time fantasizing about beating me up”? WRONG (lousy grammar, too).
            It must be awful being as stupid as you are.

          • NotToneDeaf says:

            It must be awful being the school yard bully. I hope your non-stop name-calling has made you feel better, and I further hope your out-of-control (but very, very funny) anger hasn’t given you a heart attack. USA! USA! USA! USA!

          • Greg Bottini says:

            “It must be awful being the school yard bully. I hope your non-stop name-calling has made you feel better, and I further hope your out-of-control (but very, very funny) anger hasn’t given you a heart attack. USA! USA! USA! USA!”
            Wow. NotToneDeaf calls ME out of control.
            What an idiot.

          • Gilbert Clarke says:

            Don’t worry Greg, NotToneDeaf is just being her cunty self as she does in all her rants. Norman only encourages Russian bots like her to keep the salt flowing on the boards. Classical music alone has no media following or audience now that the alleged “educated” types run around stupidly rioting and looting their own backyards. Glad those hoodlums keep getting themselves arrested or shot. Like NotToneDeaf, they’re only professional victims with no job.

          • NotToneDeaf says:

            So now I’m a cunt because we have a difference of opinion and because I had the temerity to be critical of your great country. If there’s anyone on this board who is still confused about how Trumpism has taken over the US, just read this thread. Even those claiming to be on the left are incapable of civil discourse. Bullying, ganging up, a vocabulary limited to obscene language – Stay klassy, Amerika.

          • henry williams says:

            if it was not for american troops and
            russian soldiers we would of been invaded in england. iam grateful to your

          • Greg Bottini says:

            Thank you, henry williams, for writing this.

      • William Safford says:

        Here’s the odd thing: your mildly-crude comment, and your followup to it, have been the recipient of more opprobrium than so many of the bigoted and vile right-wing postings by so many other commenters on this board, especially the trolls and minions of the Orange Enemy of the People.

        Hmmm, I wonder why.

        If you were trying to call that out, you succeeded.

    • Steve says:

      But Nikki Haley isn’t one of them. I wonder if she mistook “million” for “billion,” so that culture would have been a tenth of the total (and not a ten thousandth). Or is my math awry?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Being a card-carrying member, I can’t disagree. Since the days of the formidable Nancy Hanks, the US has systematically denigrated culture in our country. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but the prime culprit is the dismantling of music and art programs in public schools. If there is not an understanding and appreciation of the creative arts at an early age, there is slim to no chance of gaining that knowledge later in life.

      Secondary education in the US for the most part has become either college prep programs or trade schools. The liberal and fine arts are considered the predilection of the elite, not necessary for the average educated person.

      • Keith says:

        As I read the article, it was my same thoughts. I couldn’t agree more. Music education is going to be extinct in the U.S., if it isn’t already. And, I was once a music educator.

    • John Kelly says:

      A complete (and correct) answer to the question posed. Well done.

    • study grammar says:

      “… through which … its … constitution gives them outsized influence …”
      Mhh this is a well educated thought indeed.

    • V. Lind says:

      No need. You have just provided the answer for the question that will plague future historians: how the hell did a modern, successful, reasonably decent country ever elect a flaming charlatan like Donald Trump?

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Ah yes, in failing to understand that the Democrats have sealed their own fate moving forward by reverting to the old identitarian tics and racialist tropes the people rejected in 2016.
        Back to the Future, 2.

        • Amos says:

          Another word salad of disaffected white nationalist drivel.

        • William Safford says:

          You do realize, don’t you, that it is the white supremacists and the systemic racism that they support, that create the very environment of identitarianism and racialist tropes, don’t you? That is to say, you do realize that you’re blaming the victims for the acts of the perpetrators, right?

          No, of course you don’t. Otherwise you wouldn’t post your missives.

          • Andrea H. says:

            Having leaders speak out in the White community always gives your argument credibility and believability Mr. Safford.

            Jewish leaders for instance are required to speak out on their role in constructing systemic racism as well. More openness to diversity and active inclusion of persons of color is mandatory or soon shall be in America. Glad our new president Biden will finally be forcing more diversity across the board. It’s long overdue!

          • Janet says:

            Thank God the Democrats just elected a White as president!

            The other races and sexes fell flat on their own again so they actually do support establishment white supremacy with Biden as their White guy.

          • Lamont T. Humphreys says:

            True enough. Biden is merely filling in his impending cabinet with old Obama “establishment types” most of which are white except for a couple so far.

            Even fellow Dems have complained about the lack of diversity particularly when it comes to finance. It’s still “no coloreds allowed” at the Treasury level. Why after all these years even with Biden as president?

    • Bone says:

      Agreed except for the outdated and vaguely worded part.

    • Hayne says:

      Yep. Leave it to the elites.
      They are so much more educamated…

    • Jon Holt, M.D. says:


    • Windsor Terrace Gremlin says:

      It’s not as simple as that, “Bill.” You think it takes a constitutional amendment to fund the arts? In America, we believe the arts should be funded by the private sector instead of being an entitlement as in Europe. It’s as simple as that. Next question, please…

      • John Borstlap says:

        In Europe, arts funding is not an entitlement, but a prerogative of the state: national identity depends on inclusion of culture, since this signals being part of a civilisation. With the exclusion of the UK, the Netherlands and a small area in the Balkans which continuously escapes observation: these parts don’t want to be part of a European civilisation. (There are rumors that Andorra is not quite willing to be part of Europe but they are contested.)

        • V. Lind says:

          What has The Netherlands done to you?

          And aren’t you in danger of conflating “European civilisation” and the European Union?

    • fed up says:

      To Bill: 150,000+ “willfully ignorant dolts”? Interesting.
      To Bill and Norman: You would have to grown up and lived in USA to understand why it is the way it is … if not, you never will.

      • American says:

        A bit of grammar for you, fed up. You would have had to grow up, not “You would have to grown up.” English not your first language?

    • J Barcelo says:

      If you think the educated, elite snobs in the USA care about the arts, you’re sadly mistaken. It’s sad, but true, that our wealthy tech overlords like Zuckerberg, Gates, Bezos, Bloomberg and their ilk have little to no interest in classical music. One of Microsoft’s founders, Paul Allen, created a Rock n Roll museum in Seattle. The universities have long ago stopped teaching the humanities and promoting higher art. The current professors are from the 60s; remember “Hey hey, Ho ho, Western Civ has got to go”? Well, they got their way. Long gone are the David Sarnoffs, men who used their position (he ran NBC) to promote classical music on radio and television. And to be fair, the classical world has not helped. Rather than reach out to the public and demonstrate some value, they’ve catered for so long to the wealthy, made ticket prices ridiculously expensive, and kept playing the same old, tired warhorses over and over. It’s quite sad and our political class has no interest in the matter.

    • TIMOTHY ECKERT says:

      Bill, stick to the subject at hand. Did you even bother to read the article?

    • Maestro4 says:

      Does the fact that the United States government/citizens do not financially or physically support the arts surprise you? If it does, you know nothing about the US. Other than seeing their children on stage in a school play or concert, most US citizens have no use for the arts. The lack of support by the government and administrators is reflected by the people. It was so surprising to find that Ruth Bader Ginsberg (the Supreme Court Justice) was a real patron of the arts. They thought she was strange to “like that stuff”. As if to say, why would she have done that? It’s a very sad situation.

      • Araragi says:

        Who thought RBG was strange to like the arts? Not trying to be argumentative. Just curious.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Your late SC judge Scalia used to attend the Met alongside RBG, I understand. The arts aren’t merely the prerogative of the bien pensant, you know. Even neanderthal conservatives appreciate it.

        • Tom Phillips says:

          Scalia was the exception to the rule. Very few people on the right today support the arts whatever was the case 60 or more years ago.

          • William Safford says:

            Tom, I’m not sure that I agree with you. Look at all the neanderthal conservatives who post to this board….

    • Occamsrazor says:

      Sadly, after spending here 31 years since leaving the Soviet Union, I’m afraid I became a part of this deplorable situation. I know I should join my conservatory-trained colleagues when they decide to go door to door in search of the uneducated Americans to explain to them how woefully outdated their vaguely worded Constitution is and how they should give up their firearms among other things but I feel that my better-educated colleagues are ready and will succeed without me. They’ve been practicing their instruments their entire lives just for this occasion into which they’ve got with the best intentions: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wtf5ZoFiKm0

    • Greg says:

      I suspect you’d be a tad uncomfortable if someone like, say, DonaldTrump decided to monkey with the Constitution to further his agenda as I would be if and when Kamala Harris assumes full control (as she is no doubt itching to do). ‘”Difficult to change” is written into the charter to forestall such impulses. As they say, a feature, not a bug.

    • We privatize your value says:

      Your smugness is breathtaking, Bill. Are you from New Zealand?

    • God bless America! says:

      Norman, Bill’s comment about the great United States citizenry is highly offensive!!!!

      Besides being xenophobic, Bill is also neglecting the fact that both immigrants and refugees choose America to run to over any other country. We also have the most powerful military in the world and are the wealthiest nation.

      Both military and wealth must periodically be reinforced to detractors as the USA both protects and financially enriched other nations regularly. Israel is a prime example of this paired with President Trump’s recent, historic deals brokering peace in the perpetually embattled Middle East which all former Presidents FAILED to accomplish.

      The USA is a melting pot of the best and brightest. Just think; without our military the Internet itself would not exist along with the major platforms most of the world relies on to create AI.

      If Bill or anyone else wishes to take issue with the great USA, then stop asking us for money!

      • Adrienne says:

        Each to his own, I suppose. Instead of listening to Bach, Beethoven, Berlioz, or whoever, you can admire your rack of ornaments over the fireplace and console yourself with how tough you look.

      • JoshW says:

        Almost every one of your sentences can be refuted with facts – but I’m not going to bother as people like you would just tell me it’s fake news. If anyone wants to know more about what’s destroying America, just read the above. Countries aren’t that different from people – if you’re the guy who thinks he’s perfect, continually brags about it, and won’t broker any criticism whatever, you’re going to eventually be alone and broken.

        • Lucinda Walsh-Reed says:

          Why do loquacious commenters like you never bring up the continent of Africa, the UAE, Venezuela, Mexico, etc. in these discussions of intellectualism, culture, wealth, military might, commerce, technology, or advancements in any field? Are all of Norman’s usual loudmouths so culturally ignorant that they only believe that Europe, Israel and the US are worthy of interjecting in these exclusionary discussions by the small minds we normally here?

          It makes one think that the most dominant and prolific commenters (majority male I notice) are the true perpetrators of what we know to be systemic racism. People like William Safford and JoshW need to either think before they speak or simply leave these discussions to the adults who can properly address them instead of xenophobic racists like them.

          • JoshW says:

            Where in my post do you see anything that calls out (or ignores, as you claim) a specific country? Please, give me an example to support whatever the hell you’re nattering on about.

          • William Safford says:

            “War is peace.
            Freedom is slavery.
            Ignorance is strength.”
            ― George Orwell, 1984

            People who speak out against racism must be racist in your mind. How Orwellian of you, Lucinda.

    • Tamino says:

      Half full? Probably about 80% full.
      The drama is, many of them perfectly nice people. Until… it gets political, or about issues of culture or matters outside of their nation. Clueless, ignorant, opinionated, sense of entitlement. Turn every political discussion into a childish bipolar bickering.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Would this be one and the same people who came to the rescue of Europe in WW2 losing many of their own people in the prime of their lives? Yep, that’s white privilege and toxic masculinity right there.

      • William Safford says:

        It’s funny. Your first sentence is correct, with everything that it implies.

        And yet, let’s ponder your second sentence.

        We did send our own people to fight and die in Europe (and the Pacific Theater).

        Yet, even as we fought for democracy, we sent segregated forces to Europe. For the most part, Black soldiers were isolated from white ones. Almost none were officers. Few were permitted in combat situations. In the Navy, if you were Black, you usually worked as a cook or, in effect, a butler for a white officer.

        And yet, these Black soldiers and seamen had greater rights in the armed services than they did at home, especially if they came from the Jim Crow South, America’s apartheid. Many of these Black servicemen were discriminated against, maltreated, injured, and murdered once they returned home.

        FDR is often criticized for certain action and inactions having to do with the war, including not allowing into the U.S. more Jewish refugees. Yet it was the white supremacist Southern members of Congress who often blocked him from being able to take such actions. They could stymie the war effort if they chose to remove their support.

        Meanwhile, America had its own internment camps. They held Japanese-American citizens, who had committed no crime worse than having Japanese ancestry. If you want to learn more about this profound violation of their lives and civil rights, just read anything that actor George Takei has written about his experiences living in one.

        So yes, that’s white privilege and toxic masculinity at work right there. You meant what you wrote to be taken ironically, yet it is, in fact, accurate when read at face value.

        Many of these white supremacist and racist attitudes linger to this day. Such people form a substantial part of the voting base of the Orange Enemy of the People. Not all of his voters are white supremacist bigots, but pretty much all white supremacist bigots vote for him and view him as their leader.

      • Lars says:

        Unfortunately, that argument has been used to excuse every half-baked military adventure since.

        And the USSR made a massive contribution to the “rescue” of Europe but I’ve met few Americans who are prepared to acknowledge the fact. Just a bunch of “Commies”.

        • William Safford says:

          The United States dead number about 400,000, compared to over 20,000,000 for the Soviet Union.

          The lions’s share of the Russian dead were in Soviet Union territory, whereas the 48 states of the United States saw effectively no enemy action. Furthermore, a small percentage of the U.S. casualties were civilians, whereas millions of them died in the Soviet Union, whether due to military action, starvation, or disease.

          • V. Lind says:

            And, with all due gratitude to the United States and the service people who fought and died, they did not enter the war until they had been attacked themselves.

            Roosevelt wanted to ally with Britain, which had been on its own since the fall of France and all but before it, but as ever the American perspective could not see that the threat Hitler and ultimately the Axis posed to the world mattered even when it had not reached their shores. How different from the reaction to 9/11, when Americans felt evil on their own soil for the first time since Pearl Harbour.

          • William Safford says:

            You are correct.

            There was a strong isolationist faction in the U.S. at this time, in part in reaction to the experience of participating in WWI, and in part due to historical trends. Some were pacifists; others felt that the U.S. could repel any attack that Nazi Germany could make on the U.S.

            It took a direct attack on U.S. soil to prompt the U.S. into war.

            That said, here’s a what-if: after the U.S. declared war on the Japanese, what if Hitler had chosen not to declare war on the U.S. in solidarity with Japan?

            Without a unilateral declaration of war by Nazi Germany, that could have tied FDR’s hands. Would the isolationists in the U.S. have kept the U.S. out of the European theater, at least at first? If so, what would have happened?

        • henry williams says:

          the russian army lost many men. people
          forget this

          • William Safford says:

            This is true.

            Then again, this is also after Stalin starved to death millions of people in the Soviet Union before the war.

            Many people forget this genocide that Stalin and the Soviet Union committed against his own citizens.

            This is also after Stalin had purged many of the most qualified generals and other high-ranking officers in the Soviet Union armed forces.

          • Tito Igmar says:

            Pelosi and Biden = Stalin

          • William Safford says:

            Tito, give it up. The Orange Enemy of the People fantasizes about being a strongman like his BFF Putin, but he’s just a sore loser.

  • Arturo says:

    Bravo, Mr. Horowitz!

    * * *

    One little quote: “The biggest institution of performance — the Metropolitan Opera — will sooner or later find its 3,800-seat auditorium, a remnant of another epoch, no longer economically or artistically viable.”

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Joseph Horowitz is a sensationalist writer.
    Take everything he writes with many, many grains of salt.

  • Curvy Honk Glove says:

    All will be OK now that team blue has won. Biden and Harris will fix everything.

  • Stuart says:

    Interesting reading though it wanders and is over written. The bulk is not about COVID and today but about history, back to the WPA. Worth a read, and certainly more than the simplistic “flip” response that is typical of this blog (It’s as simple as that…) America is no longer much concerned with the arts and arts education. Forget classical music and opera – they are but minor niches that are slowly dying along with their audiences. I have lived in the US for most of my life, and in the UK for seven years. The difference in the focus and support of the arts in the US and the UK is huge. Don’t look to the US government to reverse the decline that has been ongoing since the 60’s. And corporations are focused elsewhere. Most in the US would not attach the term “vital” to the two words “cultural interests”. Horowitz’ essay is interesting as history but really provides no framework for bringing back the arts energy from earlier periods. It should start with arts education in the early school years, but the education system in the US has been in an equally steady decline these past few decades.

  • Rich says:

    Thanks to the uniquely radical sociopathy of America’s ruling corporate class, along with the complacency of the American citizenry that amounts to a form of quasi consensual sex with the decisions of that ruling class…

    Yes, America has become the third world country amongst the 1st world ones… a ‘third world country wrapped in a Gucci belt.

    “Culture”, “spirituality”… who cares anymore!

    -From a disgusted American Millenial.

  • Fliszt says:

    President Jimmy Carter said: “The Arts are not a luxury – they are a vital part of American life.”

    • David K. Nelson says:

      And we saw how HIS re-election campaign went. The sad fact is that the one thing that the far left and far right agree on in this country is that there is quite a bit of cheap political capital to be gained by downplaying, or even downright trashing, the arts and arts institutions. It is is not out of ignorance, it is out of considered appreciation for the “optics” involved, in part generated by the news organizations and their priorities. Thus a big foundation not only gets favorable publicity when it declares it will no longer support the symphony and instead shift its generosity to other worthy causes, but just saying it won’t support the symphony any longer is good publicity, regardless of what the newly favored recipient is.

  • Carol Cobb says:

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have had no introduction to the arts so they have no interest.

    • Steven Honigberg says:

      My father grew up in the St. Louis area and as a kid in the 1930s took a bus to Powell Hall to listen to open rehearsals by the orchestra with it’s prominent conductors. His parents weren’t musical but felt that it was important for their son to be exposed to classical music. It was a highlight of his youth. The result was a life long love affair with the arts eventually becoming a generous patron. Shouldn’t there be more of that moving forward? Bring kids (who want to go, surely there will be some) to orchestra rehearsals, to chamber music rehearsals etc. It is very important that top tier artists (I’m looking at Yo Yo Ma, Anne Sophie Mutter, Joshua Bell) and organizations recognize this angle. Educate! Talk, explain, have fun with it. For example when the Guarneri quartet conducted open rehearsals at the University of Maryland, this had to have made a lasting impression on some of those attending.

  • jack says:

    The answer to this is not difficult to discern. In the US there is an historical and cultural aversion among the citizenry to having the government decide who (both individual groups and organizations) is to get favored treatment and support. The idea in the US is that those kinds of decisions should be made by the people (as a group of individuals) through their participation in the market place. In that dynamic there will be winners and losers, but the government should not pick the outcomes. So in this perspective the notion is that if these entities deserve support they will get it through an amalgamation of individual contributions rather than the overarching prescription of the government to allocate support derived from, but not approved by, the citizenry. (Also, in the current US climate you have to be careful of emulating European support for the arts, because it will be taken for endorsing some form of “white supremacy.”

    • Mayflower says:

      Exactly. And which presidential administration would citizens want determining which kinds of art, exactly, are worth taxpayer dollars? Trump? Obama? Every four years the entire artistic landscape could shift. Let art fund itself and keep taxpayer dollars out of the arts.

    • William Safford says:

      I was with you, until your final parenthetical comment. I may not like all of what you were describing, but I agreed with your description thereof.

      As for that final editorial comment: the problem is not that European support for the arts is equated with “white supremacy.”

      The problem is that the *implementation* of the translation of European arts to the U.S. contains built-in biases.

      These biases should be identified and rooted out, to improve the arts as well as society in general, and the workers (e.g. musicians) and students in particular.

  • PaulD says:

    Calling for protecting America’s “cultural interests” is likely to get you denounced for elitism at best, and racism at worst. Support for symphony orchestras and other “fine” arts is now considered a manifestation of whiteness, part of the machinery that oppresses the colonized and marginalized.

  • Herbert Gussett says:

    Might I be allowed to point out that “Culture” has to be imported into US from Europe. They may have the money, but they are brash vulgarians at heart. They also drive on the wrong side of the road.

    We have some wonderful concerts, operas, oratorios here in leafy Lymeswold, many of the performers are ex-St. Cakes old boys. Quis Paget Entrat

  • Non-binary, Feminist Vegan Liberal says:

    Of course there are!!

    We already have an ARMY on our side consisting of:
    Joe and Jill Biden, Hunter too!
    Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff
    Bill and Hillary Clinton
    Barack and Michelle Obama
    Bernie Sanders
    Nancy Pelosi
    Chuck Schumer
    Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
    Rashida Tlaib
    Ilhan Omar
    Gavin Newsom
    Andrew Cuomo
    Bill De Blasio

    How could we POSSIBLY be left in the dark to die with our stellar leadership?!?!?!

    • American says:

      Hi troll. How ya doin’ since the election? Still wearing your tinfoil hat?

      • Hamish B. says:

        You don’t trust any of the aforementioned to handle things adequately after ALL they’ve accomplished on behalf of the arts so far???

        • William Safford says:

          here’s what they have not done: actively worked to cancel all funding for the arts.

          This sets them apart from the Republicans.

        • Kim Overton says:

          No, none of these little bitches have lifted a finger to do anything to help artists.

          They’ve been forgotten by the party they voted for. They’re mostly broke or close to it by now; moved out of the city in droves. Predictable.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    “Why is no one in Congress or the White House talking about protecting crucial cultural interests?” . . . Hello! Where have you been for four years!

  • David says:

    If Trump won’t do anything about the Covid crisis no one should expect him to spend money on the arts, unfortunately.

    • Jan Goldstone says:

      But Joe will be President soon! He will do exactly what he did under 8 years along with Obama. Have faith people.

  • caranome says:

    If you ask “who is Richard Wagner?” to every U.S. president since JFK, I’ll bet every singe one of them will draw a blank. Ditto a typical “man on the street” query (with possible exception near Lincoln Ctr. in NYC). That’s why there will be no chance in hell there will be any major pubic funding of high culture in the U.S. Dead White Men and all that…

    • V. Lind says:

      I think you are wrong about Wagner. Most (not all) of the Presidents could identify him reasonably accurately.

      Heard OF him, yes. HEARD him, not so much. Though in the same way most of them are familiar with a piece of music they think of as “the Lone Ranger theme” many could identify the arrival of the helicopters in Apocalypse Now. (And when I was a student, many referred to something I knew elsewhere as “the Elvira Madigan theme”).

      Thus does film and television keep classical music alive…more good has probably been done by Inspector Morse than by all the education available in the United States.

    • Music fan says:

      JFK wasn’t nearly so cultured as the American people were led to believe – it was mostly Jackie.

      Jimmy Carter is quite an aficionado of Classical music, and spend much of his paltry naval salary on 78rpm Classical recordings.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Jimmy Carter would certainly have known and possibly even Nixon.

    • William Safford says:

      Caranome, I understand your rhetorical point, but I disagree on the details.

      I bet that not only could President Carter talk cogently with you about Wagner, I wouldn’t be surprised if he could discuss with you the relative merits of several of the Ring cycle recordings, or favorite performances that he has attended, or Wagner’s use of leitmotifs.

      He’s the primary exception.

      Presidents Obama and Clinton probably couldn’t go that granular, but I’m sure that they’re conversant with Wagner on at least some level. Ditto Presidents Nixon and the first President Bush, if they were still with us.

      Reagan? Only if he played Wagner in a movie. The second Bush? Probably not. Johnson? Not sure.

      The Orange Enemy of the People? That’s where you’re right on the money.

  • BruceB says:

    Because in the US, most of us fall somewhere between “apathetic” and “enraged” in our attitudes toward the arts — I mean toward the fact that they exist at all in this country.

    As far as government support: we hate paying taxes even for things that benefit us directly, like roads. Plenty of us get outraged whenever it’s pointed out that something like 25¢ out of our precious tax dollars is spent on the arts.

    • Matias says:

      ” we hate paying taxes even for things that benefit us directly, like roads”

      Apart from the military – “most powerful in the world” etc etc. All the macho bluster does not alter the fact that US citizens are missing out on one of the basic benefits that makes a country civilised.

      But never mind, you’ve saved the world yada yada yada. Actually, you haven’t, and you’re doing a pretty good job of making it more dangerous.

  • caranome says:

    Phone rings, man picks up:
    “Good morning, sir. I am conducting a survey for the National Endowment for the Arts on Americans’ ignorance & apathy towards classical music.”
    Man replies: “I don’t know & I don’t care. Good bye.”

  • John G. says:

    The salvation of classical music will always come from a “bottom up” approach. Where music is nurtured in the schools (and at home) and where a healthy culture of “enlightened amateurism” flourishes, the natural result is enthusiastic classical music supporters. Some of the most ardent concert-goers and patrons are folks that actually play (or at least once studied) an instrument.

    Most “intellectual” and college educated types have moved on to other “distractions.” Among many “sophisticates,” classical music is no longer centrally valued as essential to a well-rounded spiritual life.

    On the positive side, in certain segments of the American community, notably among many citizens of Chinese and Korean ancestry, I see an amazing appreciation for the best of Western Music that gives me some cause for optimism.

  • William Safford says:

    There is an enormous amount to unpack from Horowitz’s essay. I just read it, as well as a previous one, “New World Prophecy.”

    Herewith are a few thoughts about them. I’ll barely scrape the surface of all that he delved into.

    If the U.S. government under current leadership (and, for once, I am not drawing attention to only the Orange Enemy of the People–the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, “Moscow” Mitch McConnell shares in the blame and infamy) cannot bring itself to come up with adequate financial packages to address the financial straits of its general citizens during this pandemic, it can hardly do so for the subset of artists and arts organizations.

    Part of the neoliberal bargain, for better or worse, was the provision for writing off charitable donations in taxes: if government would not contribute directly to nonprofits, at least it would permit the indirect government subsidy of them via tax-deductible private donations. This was an incentive for individuals and corporations to donate to charities and nonprofits such as arts organizations. The 2017 tax law eviscerated this neoliberal social contract, and thus part of the raison d’être of neoliberalism.

    Many great things happened during the administration of FDR. There were worthy achievements also during the Johnson Administration. Starting with Reagan, it’s been a wasteland as far as arts are concerned at the Federal level. The Reagan Administration actively wanted to cancel all Federal support for the arts. The Obama Administration, with assistance from then-Vice President, now-President-Elect, Biden, protected what little was left. Everything else was in between, but nothing was better.

    I have never understood this. I would think that conservative, even reactionary, political figures and parties would want to support conservative and reactionary institutions such as classical music. How odd that this is not the case.

    As for his “New World Prophesy” monograph, it goes to show just how reactionary and, at times, blatantly racist our country has been as far as our Black brethren composers are concerned.

    Just one example:

    “Dett’s The Ordering of Moses was prominently premiered: by the Cincinnati Symphony in 1937 on national radio. Midway through, however, the broadcast was stopped without explanation—presumably because of listener complaints that the composer was black. After that, like Dawson’s symphony, Dett’s cantata disappeared.” (Horowitz, “New World Prophesy”)

    Why did we not hear more of the likes of Price, Dett, or Grant Still? Why do we still not to this day? Horowitz tackles these issues, and many more.

    • Greg says:

      My .02 worth: the decline of classical music’s importance and popularity in the US was greatly hastened by the introduction and lionization of MTV. Classical music programming was already virtually nonexistent, so few young people (or any people, for that matter) were exposed via television. MTV was trendy and popular and gained the young audience and it has been all downhill since then. Not only has the “music” itself become largely insufferable, but the accompanying images have had an incalculably negative impact. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, came MTV’s near abandonment of music videos in favor of “reality” programming. Pretty much all of their programming over the years has highlighted the worst society has to offer and people eat it up voraciously. The occasional symphonic or operatic programming on the likes of PBS will never be able to compete with the pervasive inundation of crap found on the other 600 channels out there.

    • V. Lind says:

      I haven’t read the article yet but in reply to your observation about conservatives and reactionaries: Americans in general have a very shaky understanding of political terms like “conservative,” “socialist” and “liberal.” (Another failure of the US education system, this one more deliberate than some of the others).

      Though their “conservatives” tend to line up on the same side of the issues as other conservative regimens and opposition parties, the US right is, while definitely reactionary, pretty unaware of the principles of classic conservatism. Their commitments are to the market, and to minimal tax to the point that tax evasion and avoidance are massive. The arts do not make the sort of money football does, so while “conservatives” remain devoted to their “college” sports to the point that “college” basketball is a MASSIVE industry, they are not nearly as loyal to any drama club or choir they might have participated in or attended while in “college.”

      And of course because they do not begin to comprehend the meaning of the word “liberal,” let alone its philosophy, and the term “liberal arts” took hold, they ignorantly associate the arts with what they think of as “liberals,” a group of people they deplore for nothing other than their usual incomprehension of the IDEA.

      The American right have a lot more in common with those they decry as fundamentalists than they would ever admit. Their unholy alliance with the so-called Christian Right, a faction that dishonours every real Christian in the world with their filthy ideologies and their literalist reading of the Bible in order to promote their own money-grubbing agenda, is one of the nastiest associations in modern politics.

      And they doom their country, once the greatest enterprise known to man, if the real liberals and even the real conservatives cannot wrest it back from these antediluvian pack, who cherish ignorance and lies over enlightenment, logic and decency. Better empires than their have fallen, and lost out to those west of them. The US, not a cradles of natural geographers, had better take a look at an atlas.

      • William Safford says:

        On one level, I agree with your assessment that most Americans often have grave difficulty with concepts such as “conservative,” “liberal,” or “socialist” and “communist” for that matter.

        Our current apotheosis of ignorance is the Orange Enemy of the People. Just one example: some months or years back, the Orange One was asked a question by a reporter about “liberal democracy.” It is clear from his answer that he had no idea whatsoever what the questioner was asking. He went on some unrelated rant about liberals vs. conservatives, rather than discussing the actual topic at hand. What an embarrassment! Alas, it’s just one embarrassment of many over the last four years.

        It was yet another indication of how out of his depth he was in any political office, much less President. President Obama could write a doctoral dissertation on the topic. The first President Bush could have connected it to his wartime experience in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Nixon, for all his failings, was fully conversant in this. Even Reagan (with coaching) could have parsed the subtleties of perestroika with Soviet Premier Gorbachev vs. Soviet rule under Brezhnev, as compared with liberal democracy. But the Orange One? Fail!

        To be fair to Americans in general, the words and their denotations have, in certain cases, shifted over the decades. What we refer to in 2020 as a “liberal” is a substantially different concept from what someone in 1865 would have considered a “liberal.” An 1865 “liberal” is more akin to a modern libertarian, although it is far from being a congruence.

        Furthermore, in the U.S., as you are well aware, there are only two major political parties, but their characteristics and their alliances have shifted a number of times over the years. The Republican and Democratic Parties of 1865 are vastly different from those of today, and not merely because of the intervening generations.

        In 1865, when the Republican Party was less than a decade old, a substantial faction thereof was radical progressive on race: they forced through the Reconstruction Amendments, which outlawed slavery (mostly), prohibited discrimination against the voting of Black men (at least theoretically), etc.

        Now, the Republican Party has forsaken, in infamy, the honor of being the Party of Lincoln; the Democratic Party is the one that now receives the lion’s share of support from the Black community, even with its own imperfections. The Republican Party is now the party of white supremacy, certain factions notwithstanding.

        Compare this with the Democratic Party, which historically was the party of slavery (certain contemporaneous factions within it notwithstanding). It was Southern Democrats who were the primary slaveowners in antebellum America. It was Southern Democrats who clamored for the defense of slavery in the guise of state’s rights, and who pushed the South into treason and sedition in the Civil War. Despite the progress made by northern Democrats under FDR and the New Deal, it was the Southern “Dixiecrats” breakaway Southern Democrats who sponsored the avowed white supremacist third-party Presidential candidate Strom Thurmond in the 1948 election against both the Democratic Party incumbent President Truman (who, though far from perfect on the topic of race, did integrate the armed forces that year) and the Republican Party candidate Thomas Dewey (“Elected Governor of New York in 1942, 1946 and 1950, he was known for his legal knowledge, political moderation, and efficient, business like administration. Among his achievements was the first state law anywhere forbidding racial and religious discrimination in employment.”).

        How far the Republican Party has sunk into infamy since Dewey!

        You wrote: “The American right have a lot more in common with those they decry as fundamentalists than they would ever admit.”

        You are correct.

        The first evangelical Christian President was Carter. The evangelical movement rejected Carter in 1980 in favor of a non-church-going, divorced and remarried candidate. Their support of a candidate who was not himself an evangelical Christian, but who said some platitudes to them, helped Reagan be elected. History repeated itself multiple times, culminating with the 2016 election of the Orange Enemy of the People, whose life has been led in almost every way against everything that an evangelical Christian believes, yet they kowtow to him to this day.

        Let us be clear: the Christian Right has its historical roots in antebellum slavery. There was a schism of the Baptist denomination: “In 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention split from mainline Baptism over the issue of whether slaveholders should be allowed to be appointed as missionaries.” (Wikipedia) Much of American fundamentalist Christianity has been in support of, or at least tolerant of, white supremacy. To its credit, factions therein have worked against this trend in recent years, but it is still a dominant force within its movement.

        The Republican Party allowed itself to be hijacked by the former white supremacist Dixiecrat Southern Democrats, who fled the party in the wake of the civil rights legislations of the 1960s into the welcoming arms of the Republican Party. Now, the white supremacist populists have emerged from under the rocks, and have assumed power under their Fearless Leader, the Orange Enemy of the People.

        For shame!

        • V. Lind says:

          Thank you for that cogent summary. I am aware of the almost volte-face changes in Republicans and Southern “Democrats” from a century and a half ago. About Dixiecrats and the whole States’ Rights argument. As I mentioned once before,I was a voracious follower of American politics and society from childhood, and a serious student of American history and literature since schooldays. I was particularly interested in the Civil War, perhaps because I was a Faulkner reader. (I vastly preferred Bruce Catton to Faulkner, I must say!).

          There were some decent Republicans after Dewey — I remember rational, reasonable men like Lowell Weicker and Dick Schweiker, and later John McCain. But somewhere along the line they got attracted by corruption. All political parties have their share of corrupt members, but few embrace corruption like the Republicans. They seem unable to shake off the badness of a Nixon (over Hiss, for instance) or a George W. Bush as mouthpiece for manipulative, self-serving liars like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and the like.

          This latest creature is the worst. Some of the self-respecting Republicans seem to have cut him loose, not buying into his latest lies about election results. But Mitch McConnell, and the Texans, and too many others — they have swallowed the Kool-Aid. They are no longer even pretending they are in Washington to serve their constituents — they are there on the Trump plan, which is to plunder as much as they can for themselves without consideration for “truth, justice or the American way.” They have borne the lies uncomplainingly for over four years, they are trying to make a mockery of the rule of law through these absurd challenges prompted by the wails of the Big Baby, and the only American way they recognise is the way of the market, regardless of the morals.

          Your observations higher up on the Presidents and Wagner exactly mirrored y own thinking as I ran through them, though I would venture that Johnson might not have recognised the name and I suspect Ford would fall into my own assessment. I would not like to go bail for too many of my Canadian Prime Ministers, though I think our general education, for all it is going south with the best (worst) of them, is still better than yours. We learn about things that happen outside our shores.

          And we all know that Boris Johnson can sing Ode to Joy (An Die Freude) in German! True: I have heard him. And Theresa May went to classical concerts, and Ted Heath played piano and even conducted an orchestra on occasion. I believe Margaret Thatcher would not have known a crotchet from a quaver and would certainly have thought going to concerts a colossal waste of time, but she thought that about everything, from child-rearing to reading. However, personal cultural tastes do not seem to translate into much commitment to the arts by the Conservatives.

          • William Safford says:

            You’re welcome. My apologies for when I tell you what you already know. I hope that others benefit from reading our exchanges.

            The Civil War is a fascinating part of our history. If I were to start over in college, and if I chose American history as my subject, there are two time periods that would interest me in particular, in part because they have been inadequately served by historians. One is Reconstruction. The myth of the Lost Cause is being deconstructed, which is a laudable task, but there is much more work to be done.

            I completely agree that there have been good Republicans, even in the last half-century. Just one example of many was Jack Kemp, Bob Dole’s running mate in the 1996 Presidential election.

            And we see several lower-level functionaries with the courage of their convictions, standing up to the Orange Enemy of the People’s efforts to steal this election. Kudos to them!

            In fact, I probably could have been a Republican in past decades, before Reagan. There was a significant faction of moderate-to-liberal Republicans for a number of years, exemplified in part by former New York Governor and former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.

            Most Rockefeller Republicans have been chased out or have aged out of the Party.

            So, the question arises: is the Republican Party now the party of the Orange Enemy of the People? Many of the state party leadership positions have been purged of anyone not felt to be loyal to the Orange One, and filled with sycophants and True Believers.

            Or will he fall to the wayside in the next few years? Or will he be arrested, tried, convicted, and jailed? Or will he go into exile to avoid prosecution? Will he try to run for President again in 2024 from a prison cell, or from exile?

            What will happen with the Never Trumpers? Will they form their own party? Will it gain traction? Will they be able to reassert themselves in the Republican Party? Will they join the Democratic Party? Many of them disagree too strongly with the Democrats on issues to join. They clearly prefer good governance to corruption, so time will tell.

            As for performing politicians, it should be noted that former candidate for the Democratic nomination for President this year, Pete Buttigieg, performed the piano solo of Rhapsody in Blue with a professional orchestra in Indiana (South Bend Symphony) in 2013. A friend of mine played in that concert.

            Who else can we name who can do something like that? The late German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and the recording of him performing on third piano in the Mozart Concerto for Three Pianos, is the only one who comes to mind in recent decades. How about anyone alive?

          • V. Lind says:

            Stephen Harper, three-time (absolutely awful) PM of Canada, I am sorry to say, played some classical music. Joe Clark, a short-lived PM, is not as far as I know a musician himself, but his wife commissioned a new piece by John Estacio, a Canadian composer whose work has been widely performed here (I have heard quite a bit and rather like it; I particularly like his opera Lillian Alling, which may be available on CBC) for his 75th birthday. It was premiered at the National Arts Centre.

            As for what happens to the Republican party: I fear it was well on the way to where it is now before Trump took it over. Ripe for the picking, rather (remember who ran against him). It is BECAUSE of the Rush Limbaugh/Ann Coulter/Sean Hannity/Tucker Carlson types that Trump decided to run. And they reflect the sort of thinking that has led the party in recent years. I mean, the very notion that Sarah Palin might have become President, had McCain won, makes one gag, but remember Michele Bachman, who briefly offered later on, and she made Palin look like a liberal intellectual.

            I do remember Kemp, though mostly as the spokesman for Reagan’s trickledown economics. And for a great little New Yorker story from the early 80s about the “Kemp-Dent Trade” — a political sendup that posited Kemp being sent to the Yankees in exchange for Bucky Dent, who was sent to the Republicans. I had met Bucky in Seattle when he was playing for the visiting Rangers (a real doll, and an unlikely Republican!) so I remembered that story.

            As I said to someone else, it is going to take good faith and good practice by people of all sides to rebuild the America that most decent Americans like to think they live in. That certainly includes the Republicans, who have some real rebuilding to do. And the damned Democrats had better realise that they are not the promised land. They too need to re-evaluate some of the old verities, a little more critically than just jumping on BLM bandwagons and the like. Trump won by appealing to the vast number of people who seem happy not to be very educated and only concerned with their own economics and their gun rights. They have to find some way of addressing these people. At least some of them self-corrected this time and did not vote for Trump again, but an awful lot of people did.

            Joe Biden is not a bad man, and may well like some others grow into the job. But he is not a game-changer, not an inspirational leader. He was the lesser of two evils. (Not malevolent, like Trump, but two men in their rising 70s…I ask you). Both these parties have to take a long hard look at themselves, at the manner of American elections, at the national distrust of the political system. Leadership seems a thing of the past as Trump seems to be trying to systematically destroy democracy before he is unceremoniously booted out.

            As for what he will do next: I hope he is behind bars. There are cases out there that I think can be made. By 2024, aged 78, divorced again, I imagine he will be a distant memory. But I fear he will be a memory with a legacy. It is a sad thought that so many Americans value this Big Baby, who cannot accept loss, who cannot behave with grownup grace let alone traditional courtesy. And some of them hold positions of immense power. What a pity none of them really MEAN “make America great again.”

          • William Safford says:

            There are systemic issues in the U.S. that have in recent decades led to the current political quagmire. I’ve already discussed several of them. Here are several more.

            One of them is gerrymandering. (I’m resisting going deep into the weeds on this topic.) Because of how Congressional districts are literally shaped by partisan forces, Republicans have such an advantage that they can earn a minority of the popular vote yet end up with a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, as well as in many state legislatures controlled by them.

            What Republicans have done is to draw these Congressional districts in ways such that more Republicans win, in anti-majoritarian ways.

            But what we have learned is that, instead of making Republican incumbents safe in their seats because they are protected from Democratic challengers in the general election, in fact they are now at risk in the Republican primaries, usually by even more conservative candidates.

            This has created an incentive structure for Republican candidates who may very well be more conservative than their districts to win nomination, and thus the election. This can include wacko-birds, such as several who were elected last month.

            Another is the Senate. It being an anti-majoritarian institution by design, it gives small states a disproportionate amount of influence relative to their populations. Because of current political trends, this gives the Republican Party a majority in the Senate, despite representing a relatively small percentage of the U.S. population. The minority Democrats represent a substantial majority of the population.

            The current apportionment of the Senate (two Senators per state) is one of only two things that are prohibited from being amended in the Constitution, so this basic structure cannot be changed.

            I agree with your assessment of the effects of right wing talk radio and such (Facebook, right wing websites, right wing cable channels, etc.) on the polity, not to mention the elevation of mediocrity to high levels of prominence.

            The incoming Administration has a great deal of damage control and repair, to fix everything that the Orange Enemy of the People has damaged and undermined: everything from foreign relations, to domestic issues, to government itself.

            Our country has to face up to the fact that, in the 21st century, millions of Americans voted as if it were 1876. They voted in support of a profoundly corrupt, damaged, cruel, incompetent, unsuitable, racist, white supremacist, misogynist, xenophobic, anti-Islam, and arguably anti-Semitic man for President. They then did not resoundingly reject him in 2020, even after all his flaws and corruption were revealed for all to see.

            As I have written before, in the United States, we never had a Truth and Reconciliation after the Civil War, as occurred in South Africa. And it shows.

            Democrats do need to come to terms with how to deal with this very real poison in our polity.

            Not every supporter of the Orange One is as damaged and bigoted as he is. (Too many are.) However, millions of people are clearly tolerant enough of his very clear defects and bigotries and corruption, to vote for him anyway.

            As you wrote: “Trump won by appealing to the vast number of people who seem happy not to be very educated and only concerned with their own economics and their gun rights. They have to find some way of addressing these people.”

            I agree, and I’ll add one more issue that galvanize his supporters: being forced-birthers on the topic of abortion.

            Women’s health care was at one time a bipartisan issue, in both support of and opposition to it. Just one example: President Bush’s grandfather, Connecticut Senator Prescott Bush (Republican), was involved early on with Planned Parenthood, before contraception was made legal in the U.S. “He was involved with the American Birth Control League as early as 1942, and served as the treasurer of the first nationwide campaign of Planned Parenthood in 1947.” (Wikipedia)

            Today, it is almost impossible to be a pro-choice Republican, and very difficult to be an anti-choice Democrat. It is possible that Democrats may want to revisit the adamancy of this position, to permit a more open tent.

            I agree with your last paragraph, and I hope that it will be true in 2024. Time will tell.

            Oh–re Jack Kemp, my positive comment about him is despite his support of voodoo economics (supply-side economics). His strengths lay elsewhere.

          • Louis says:

            You and Safford need to get a room…in a psych ward! Paid for by a socialist government of course. Ha, Ha!!

          • William Safford says:

            Louis, would you like to have a civil and cogent fact-based discussion? If so, please join in.

        • Hayne says:

          True or not, Dude never quote wikipedia.

        • Hayne says:

          See, if you try hard enough you can be funny! Bravo!

    • PaulD says:

      “Many great things happened during the administration of FDR. ” You mean like the internment of 120,000 Americans because of their Japanese heritage?

  • Amos says:

    Why would anyone expect that an American political administration led by someone who denies the daily death of 2000 and infection of 200 K citizens cares a wit about culture? The first round of COVID-stimulus money for “small businesses” went to cronies and friends including ~ 1 million dollars to the football player, sycophant, and multi-millionaire tom brady. Currently, half of America is infected with the fascism gene so all rational thinking is being held, hostage.

  • Araragi says:

    The quote by FDR at the beginning of the article (“In encouraging the creation and enjoyment of beautiful things we are furthering democracy itself.”) is the problem with Horowitz’s view. “Beautiful” is a subjective term. One man’s beauty is another’s trash. That’s why in America we prefer to let market forces decide what forms of art should thrive. My bias is for opera over rap. But I lack the hubris to not only force my neighbor to agree with me, but make him subsidize my preference to boot.

  • Gregory Mowery says:

    I prefer not to add more fuel to the fire of America’s current culture war. That will end in about six weeks when Trump leaves office. He’s not a cultured person in any way. He doesn’t seem to like films, theater, ballet, opera, concert music, art, museums. He never attended the Kennedy Center Honors, which happen every December. He is only watching TV to see how many times a day he’s mentioned. I believe this to be the principal reason the arts received so little support. The president was abetted by a number of powerful Republicans who have been trying to do away with any kind of government support for the arts. It’s up to everyone to support the arts in this country. Even if you dont’ liek opera or ballet or symphonic music, there will eventually be something artistic that appeals such as performing arts. Someone should start a major arts fund raising apparatus so that artists can get through pandemics and natural disasters and not worry about some Republican who thinks art is a waste of time.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Art music and its theatrical incarnation is usually the product of affluent societies. The significant infrastructure required to promulgate and maintain the arts isn’t available to poorer nations. In times of privation and debt those things which are expendable are the first to go. There’s talk here about the US being a ‘wealthy’ nation. I beg to differ. Indebtedness at historic levels does not equate to ‘wealth’ but to debt. Like the industrialist ‘ties’ we see in the media every day – looking polished, wealthy and fortunate – they are mostly owned lock, stock and barrel by banks. But you’re fooled into thinking they’re wealthy because of their livery and assets. You can still live like this while being owned by your debtors. For a while.

    It seems to me that in the current US economy support for the arts means the state is borrowing more money – for buildings, maintenance and the like. Right now people see health as their number one priority and borrowing MORE money for that passes muster. Philanthropy can only do so much.

    So enough of the talk about the US being ‘wealthy’. It is not and wealth actually on your books ought never be confused with the POTENTIAL for wealth. A hole in the ground can produce wealth but not if you have to use all the proceeds towards servicing debt. Welcome to the modern realities. Past excesses have led to present austerity.

  • Tom Phillips says:

    Sadly the worst “stereotypes” held by Europeans of American cultural barbarism are proving every day to be increasingly accurate.

  • Viktor says:

    Stop hoping for the government to save you. Does anyone think these European relief packages have any chance of saving the industry in the long term? The only way to save the industry is to open it up…and soon, before it’s too late. Politicians everywhere would sooner see the entire classical music industry collapse than to have to make a decision that would threaten their chances of re-election.

  • Basso Continuoso says:

    American musicians are passive. That’s why we have no infrastructure. We have no one national organization to represent us, we only have niche groups representing competing niche interests. We don’t even have an annual awards show like the Oscars. Only the commercial Grammys. We have nothing to show for all the hard work we do. No retirement homes, it’s just all dog-eat-dog competition and selfishness. We don’t even have a national magazine. Imagine a national classical music magazine, catering to all the professionals, the teachers, the students, the listeners. That’s millions of people. Having a massive subscriber base would demonstrate the social and economic power of musicians. It would prove that we count for something. But no, we let the business people sway everything their way, the corrupt nonprofits, organizations, the unions… I say, Musical America went bust because their focus was entirely on money, records, reviews, the business side, it was negative, even if professionally well done. No wonder it went under. 100 years ago, there was the power house Etude magazine, Musical Monitor, Musical America, and others, all operating nationally.

  • Andrew says:

    Americans aren’t educated about high art and, therefore, don’t value it. If you are a 30 year old in America and your friends ask you what kind of music you enjoy most and you say “classical” they ALWAYS assume you mean classic rock. I’ve lived this my whole life.

    • henry williams says:

      many people in the uk have never been to a concert.
      of classical music. or have classicl cds at home.
      rock is the music they like. even jazz they have
      very little knowledge.. except miles davis

  • Simpson says:

    I am late to this discussion. Interesting article, interesting discussion. I wonder if someone can direct me to a source, or briefly articulate the pluses and minuses of the European type governmental funding of the arts, and specifically, of classical music. I would like to have a better understanding of the European model. TIA!