Elizabeth Eaves confronts to the now-fashionable idea that a crash is good for the arts. In nice piece of reasoning published on Forbes.com, Eaves tackles the notions haunting both the book business and the art world that a return to more modest times will produce great art and literature:
I understand why some artists and writers resist identifying too closely with money. Creative careers tend to be vocations. If you start valuing what you do in, say, dollar-an-hour terms, the result can be terrifying. And the more you let your ego inflate based on a huge sale, the more emotional fallout there will be in that year you don’t sell anything.
Still, money draining out of circulation is bad for the arts and for artists. In the U.S., creative endeavors are often funded by nonprofits. Those organizations’ donors are now disappearing. Would-be art buyers are also struggling, in some cases trying to sell off collections. [ . . . ]
Yet even as the market value of individual works goes down, it’s likely that more–not fewer–people will now seek to become auteurs. That’s because with massive layoffs in more lucrative fields, the opportunity cost of taking a shot at painting or book-writing has just disappeared. [ . . . ]
In The New York Times in January, Holland Cotter observed that financial struggles at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles weren’t the result of “the economic downturn so much as stupidity.”
The museum hadn’t–oops–socked any money away when times were good. Luckily, and unlike other struggling U.S. museums, it received a $30 million bailout from billionaire art collector Eli Broad. A self-made man, he keeps artists in business by paying attention to the bottom line. Money is good for the arts, but until it returns, we can at least be grateful for decent accounting.
Art and Literature, Meet Accounting (Forbes)