Why are artists so poor?

Why Are Artists Poor?
The Exceptional Economy of the Arts
Hans Abbing
ISBN 90 5356 565 5
NUGI 911/651

 

Table of Contents
Preface 11
1 Sacred Art
Who Has the Power to Define Art? 17
1 Art is What People Call Art 18
2 Cultural Inferiority and Superiority Color the Economy of the
Arts 20
3 ‘Art is Sacred’ 23
4 ‘Art is Authentic’ 25
5 ‘Art is Superfluous and Remote’ 27
6 ‘Art Goes Against the Rules and so Adds to Cognition’
(Goodman) 28
7 ‘Artists Resemble Magicians’ (A personal view) 29
8 The Mythology of the Arts Influences the Economy of the Arts 30
9 Conclusion 32
2 The Denial of the Economy
Why Are Gifts to the Arts Praised, While Market Incomes Remain
Suspect? 34
1 The Arts Depend on Gifts and Trade 38
2 The Amount of Donations and Subsidies is Exceptional 40
3 ‘Art that is Given Must not be Sold’ 42
4 ‘The Market Devalues Art’ 44
5 The Arts Need the High Status of the Gift Sphere 46
6 The Economy in the Arts Is Denied and Veiled 47
7 A Dual Economy Requires Special Skills 48
8 Conclusion 50
5
3 Economic Value Versus Aesthetic Value
Is There Any Financial Reward for Quality? 52
1 Aesthetic Value and Market Value Differ in Definition 55
2 ‘In the Market there is no Reward for Quality’ 56
3 Values are Shared 58
4 There is No Such Thing as a Pure Work of Art 60
5 Buyers Influence Market Value and Experts Aesthetic Value 62
6 Power Differences Rest on Economic, Cultural and Social
Capital 64
7 In Mass Markets Quality and Sales Easily Diverge 66
8 The Strife for Cultural Superiority in the Visual Arts (An
Example) 67
9 The Power of Words Challenges the Power of Money 69
10 The Government Transforms Cultural Power into Purchasing
Power 70
11 Donors and Governments Know Best 73
12 Market Value and Aesthetic Value Tend to Converge in the Long
Run 74
13 Conclusion 76
4 The Selflessly Devoted Artist
Are Artists Reward-Oriented? 78
1 The Selfless Artist is Intrinsically Motivated 81
2 Rewards Serve as Inputs 83
3 Artists are Faced with a Survival Constraint 85
4 Autonomy is Always Relative 87
5 Intrinsic Motivation Stems from Internalization 88
6 Habitus and Field 90
7 Selfless Devotion and the Pursuit of Gain Coincide 92
8 Artists Differ in Their Reward-Orientation 94
9 Types and Sources of Rewards Matter to Artists 96
10 Three Examples of Orientation Towards Government Rewards in
the Netherlands 99
11 Conclusion 101
5 Money for the Artist
Are Artists Just Ill-Informed Gamblers? 103
1 Incomes in the Arts are Exceptionally High 106
2 Art Markets are Winner-Takes-All Markets 107
3 People Prefer Authenticity and are Willing to Pay for It 110
4 Incomes in the Arts are Exceptionally Low 111
5 Five Explanations for the Low Incomes Earned in the Arts 113
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS
6 Artists are Unfit for ‘Normal’ Jobs 115
7 Artists are Willing to Forsake Monetary Rewards 116
8 Artists are Over-Confident and Inclined to Take Risks 117
9 Artists are Ill-Informed 119
10 Conclusion 122
6 Structural Poverty
Do Subsidies and Donations Increase Poverty? 124
1 Artists Have Not Always Been Poor 126
2 The Desire to Relieve Poverty in the Arts Led to the Emergence of
Large-Scale Subsidization 128
3 Low Incomes are Inherent to the Arts 129
4 The Number of Artists Adjusts to Subsidy Levels 131
5 Subsidies in the Netherlands Have Increased the Number of Artists
Without Reducing Poverty 132
6 Subsidies Are a Signal that Governments Take Care of Artists 136
7 Subsidies and Donations Intended to Alleviate Poverty Actually
Exacerbate Poverty 137
8 Low-priced Education Signals that it is Safe to Become an
Artist 140
9 Social Benefits Signal that it is Safe to Become an Artist 141
10 Artists Supplement Incomes with Family Wealth and Second
Jobs 143
11 Artists Reduce Risks by Multiple Jobholding 144
12 Artists Could be Consumers rather than Producers 146
13 Is there an Artist ‘Oversupply’ or are Low Incomes Compensated
For? 147
14 Conclusion 149
7 The Cost Disease
Do Rising Costs in the Arts Make Subsidization Necessary? 152
1 ‘Artistic Quality Should Remain the Aspiration, Regardless of the
Costs’ 154
2 ‘The Arts are Stricken by a Cost Disease’ 156
3 Technical Progress has Always been a Part of the Arts 158
4 There is no True Performance 160
5 The Taboo on Technical Innovation in Classical Music is a Product
of the Times 162
6 The Cost Disease Contributes to Low Incomes while Internal Subsidization
Contains the Cost Disease 164
7 There is no Limit to the Demand for Works of Art 167
8 Changing Tastes Can Also Cause Financial Problems 169
TABLE OF CONTENTS 7
9 Pop Music has Attractive Qualities that Classical Music Lacks 171
10 Subsidies and Donations Exacerbate the Cost Disease 174
11 Conclusion 178
8 The Power and the Duty to Give
Why Give to the Arts? 181
1 Donors Receive Respect 183
2 Donors Have Influence and are Necessarily Paternalistic 186
3 Art Sublimates Power and Legitimizes the Donor’s Activities 188
4 Gifts Turn into Duties 191
5 Donations and Subsidies are Embedded in Rituals 193
6 Artists Give and Pay Tribute 194
7 Family and Friends Subsidize Artists 197
8 Private Donors Give to Street Artists as well as to Prestigious Art
Institutions 199
9 Corporations and Private Foundations Support Art 200
10 Conclusion 201
9 The Government Serves Art
Do Art Subsidies Serve the Public Interest or Group Interests? 203
1 Art Subsidies Need Reasons 206
2 ‘Art Subsidies are Necessary to Offset Market Failures’ 208
3 ‘Art has Special Merits and must be Accessible to Everyone’ 210
4 The Merit Argument has been Used Successfully 211
5 ‘Government Must Help Poor Artists’ 213
6 ‘Art is Public and the Government Must Intervene to Prevent Underproduction’
215
7 ‘Art Contributes to Economic Welfare and so Must be
Supported’ 218
8 ‘Society Needs a Reserve Army of Artists and must therefore
Support Art’ 219
9 Government Distorts Competition in the Arts 221
10 Self-Interest Hides Behind Arguments for Art Subsidies 224
11 The Art world Benefits from Subsidies 225
12 The Government is under Pressure to Subsidize the Arts 227
13 Conclusion 230
8 TABLE OF CONTENTS
10 Art Serves the Government
How Symbiotic Is the Relationship between Art and the State? 232
1 Governments Have Interests and Tastes 234
2 Art Appears to be Less Serviceable than it was during Monarchical
Times 237
3 European Governments Carried on the Former Patronage 240
4 Veiled Display Serves Social Coherence 242
5 The Cultural Superiority of the Nation Needs Display 244
6 Government Taste Serves Display 248
7 Governments are Willing to Support the Arts 250
8 An Arts Experts Regime Harmonizes Government and Art World
Interests 252
9 Conclusion 254
Appendix: Differences between Government Involvement in the
Arts in the us and in Europe 255
11 Informal Barriers Structure the Arts
How Free or Monopolized Are the Arts? 259
1 In other Professions Barriers Inform Consumers, Restrain Producers
and Limit Competition 262
2 The Arts Resist a Formal Control of Numbers of Artists 263
3 In the Past Numbers of Artists were Controlled 265
4 Granting Certificates to Commercial Galleries in the Netherlands
(An Example) 267
5 Characteristics of Informal Barriers 268
6 Informal Barriers Protect Collective Reputations 271
7 Innovations in the Arts are Protected and Indirectly Rewarded 272
8 The Arts are Structured and Developments are Controlled 274
9 The Risks of Some are Reduced at the Expense of Others 276
10 Conclusion 277
12 Conclusion: a Cruel Economy
Why Is the Exceptional Economy of the Arts so Persistent? 280
1 The Economy of the Arts is an Exceptional Economy 282
2 Despite the Many Donations and Subsidies Incomes are Low in the
Arts 283
3 A Grim Picture has been Drawn 284
4 Winners Reproduce the Mystique of the Arts 287
5 Society Needs a Sacred Domain 289
6 Future Scenarios with More or Less Subsidization 291
TABLE OF CONTENTS 9
Epilogue: the Future Economy of the Arts
Is this Book’s Representation of the Economy of the Arts
Outdated? 295
1 Signs of a Less Exceptional Economy of the Arts 295
2 Artists with New Attitudes Enter the Scene (1) 298
3 Artists with new Attitudes Enter the Scene (2) 300
4 ‘Art Becomes Demystified as Society Becomes More Rational’ 301
5 ‘Borders in and Around the Arts Disappear’ 303
6 ‘New Techniques, Mass Consumption and Mass Media Help
Demystify the Arts’ 306
Notes 311
Literature 349
Index of Names 361
Index of Subjects 365
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