Of course, those who continue to work in the creative class are the lucky ones. Employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show just how badly the press and media have missed the story. For some fields, the damage tracks, in an extreme way, along with the Great Recession. Jobs in graphic design, photographic services, architectural services – the bureau’s phrasing indicates that it is looking at all of the jobs within a field, including the people who, say, answer the phone at a design studio – all peaked before the market crash and and fell, 19.8 percent over four years for graphic design, 25.6 percent over seven years for photography and a brutal 29.8 percent, for architecture, over just three years. “Theater, dance and other performing arts companies” – this includes everything from Celine Dion’s Vegas shows to groups that put on Pinter plays – down 21.9 percent over five years.
Other fields show how the recession aggravated existing trends, but reveal that an implosion arrived before the market crash and has continued through our supposed recovery. “Musical groups and artists” plummeted by 45.3 percent between August 2002 and August of 2011. “Newspaper, book and directory publishers” are down 35.9 percent between January 2002 and a decade later; jobs among “periodical publishers” fell by 31.6 percent during the same period.
So why aren’t we talking about it?
Creative types, we suspect, are supposed to struggle. Artists themselves often romanticize their fraught early years: Patti Smith’smemoir “Just Kids” and the various versions of the busker’s tale “Once” show how powerful this can be. But these stories often stop before the reality that follows artistic inspiration begins: Smith was ultimately able to commit her life to music because of a network of clubs, music labels and publishers. And however romantic life on the edge seems when viewed from a distance, “Once’s” Guy can’t keep busking forever.
Yes, the Internet makes it possible to connect artists directly to fans and patrons. There are stories of fans funding the next album by a favorite musician — but those musicians, as well, acquired that audience in part through the now-melted creative-class infrastructure that boosted Smith. And yes, there have been success stories on Kickstarter, as well — but even Kickstarter accepts just 60 percent of all proposals, and only about 43 percent of those end up being crowd-funded.
Our image of the creative class comes from a strange mix of sources, among them faux-populist politics, changing values, technological rewiring, and the media’s relationship to culture – as well as good old-fashioned American anti-intellectualism.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Arts and the 'Cultural Elite'
This is really an article worth reading, in its entirety.