There’s not enough money to fund both social justice and symphonies

There’s not enough money to fund both social justice and symphonies


norman lebrecht

January 14, 2022

From a new essay on the crisis in charitable foundations by Joseph Horowitz:

Foundations today are behaving as blunt instruments . . . To me, the most profound fallacy is the notion that there’s not enough money to do both – to serve social justice concerns and to maintain contact with our past cultural pillars.”

“I believe the foundations are engaged in a form of blackmail. The way to get other people to even consider your point of view is not by legislating morality. It disrespects the power of religion, or of art — if you believe that art has the power to bring people together. In the case of evangelicals and today’s charitable foundations – they’re trying to alter the essential DNA of religion and of culture in order to prove ‘relevance.’” 
“We are in a period of calling out and shaming – and the foundations are following the activists. Of course, you have to start somewhere, and certainly this is a starting point that will see results. People understand that. But it’s my impression that we’ll move from the understandable to the upsetting pretty quickly. We all know we can’t go back to the way things were. That doesn’t mean we should burn everything down. We must move forward in a more enlightened way, with greater understanding of how our structures caused harm.” . . .
Red the full article here.


  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Silly argument. There’s never ‘enough’ money for everything. Hence, why there are debts to begin with. Everyone has to make choices as to how their somewhat ‘real’ money is going to be spent.

  • Bill Forsythe says:

    This is nothing new. Foundations told orchestras to go full-time, essentially. Foundations told organizations to work in K-12 school. To work in consortia. Foundations told everyone to be about creative placemaking. That’s the history of these places and the gigantic ego and super sensitivity they have to bad press. Not that any of the above is bad, but it’s the idea they know better. It’s their money, so I guess that’s their right.

  • Jim C. says:

    What does that mean, “Go back to the way things were”?


  • Terence says:

    “ My own impression is that much of what today passes for politically aroused art fails to transcend journalistic agitation.”

    This quote from the full article sums up the current situation.

    Who wants to pay to be bullied? (The same reason I never go to Nigel Kennedy concerts).

    • Peter San Diego says:

      Yes, but let’s not toss all “politically aroused” art into the trash bin. “Nabucco,” for instance, is not simply an opera about ancient history…

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Or lectured, cancelled or hectored. Don’t forget those.

  • David Rowe says:

    Wow. Just wow. I hope everybody with a stake in arts funding (i.e., everybody working in or consuming art) takes time to read the entirety of Mr. Horowitz’s exceptionally thoughtful and balanced article. Thank you, Norman, for sharing it!

  • _ G says:

    Classical music is about the great works of the past as well as more modern works, though frankly it’s about the past more. Social Justice is about destroying what they see as a immoral past to be replaced with what they think will be a better future.

    Thus it is not an issue of having enough money. Instead these cannot coexist as they are fundamentally opposed concepts. Attempting to force them both into an organization simultaneously will make it unstable, and the audience will notice and will stop coming.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Which begs two questions; whose definition is it about an “immoral past” and what is a “better future”. What is the meaning of “better”? And is there a consensus on what is “better”?

  • Nicholas says:

    No. We must destroy everything that ever made it clear we are incompetent, untalented or at the very best, mediocre. No celebration of genius or extraordinary talent allowed, if they are a cis white male. No. Social justice, for these idiots means: it is time for them to forcefully shove their mediocrity (at best) down everyone’s throat and if we don’t like it they will call us racists or sexists and talk very loudly and cry as if all the world’s unjustice gas fallen upon their backs and that’ll show us all!
    ‘Oh, you don’t like my crappy atonal, nonsensical opera, even though I titled it ‘white men are awful and if you don’t agree you’re one of them’?! Well, clearly you need to be silenced!’ Yawn.

    The louder they are, the more I laugh at them.
    Their storm in a teacup cancel revolution is as fruitless as they are untalented.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Behind this social justice cultural war lies the fact that truly great talent is rare, it is – statistically seen – an extraordinary exception. This shows a form of inequality, not forced by people, but simply a given by Nature, or something more ineffable like spirituality. Equal rights are something different from the idea that people are equal, obviously they are not. But excluding people, in any field, not because they lack talent or qualities but for entirely irrelevant reasons like ethnicity, definitely is a social injustice. But this has to be seen entirely distinct from talent. The confusion of the two leads increasingly to self-defeating and suidical actions.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        The Bolsheviks thought they could ‘correct’ all this; the ultimate social justice warriors. Trouble is, they ran out of body bags. It’s worthwhile to note that behind much of this ‘social justice’ lies craven envy and resentment.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    “We are in it for the money.”

  • Max says:

    Do arts foundations and administrations seriously think that authoritarian ideological intervention is a strong selling point? What I’ve seen so far is so unappealing, blunt, divisive and patronising you have to wonder if there’s anyone left in an arts suit with a connection to common sense. You’ll get your answer pretty soon.

    For what it’s worth, my bum has already been moved off the seats. For now the arts have forgotten they are primarily about entertainment.

  • Manny_Balestrero says:

    Cultural Marxism in the arts disguises itself as “social justice” and “equity”. In reality Marxism, the philosophy behind communism and socialism, is a rich man’s con-job. Slavery for the masses, extreme wealth for the ruling elite. A supremacist, Bolshevik’s scam dreamed up by international criminals to weaken the spirit of great art, entrepreneurship, progress and ingenuity. Its byproduct, multiculturalism, is another scam. The beauty of humanity is its diversity, each culture preserving its heritage. Globalists hate that.