Saturday, August 08, 2009

Why the arts matter and deserve support -- especially in bleak times - Issues & Ideas -

Two South Florida dance companies closed recently. West Palm Beach's lively, lovely Ballet Florida filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago, and Miami-Dade's gallant Ballet Gamonet, after months of financial struggle, suspended performances in March and seems unlikely to return.

Meanwhile, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest will get $45 million to stay with the show for another three years, and Goldman Sachs made $4.3 billion in profits from April to June. Presumably, both Goldman execs and Seacrest feel like dancing, though it's doubtful the rest of us would want to watch.

These events may not seem connected, but they are. We've always been a society that values profitability and celebrity above almost all other qualities. That emphasis reached delirious levels in the boom years, even as Ponzi-inspired finance firms shafted the economy and our pop star-obsessed media fed a culture of celebrity sucking stupidity.