The Arts of Democracy: Art, Public Culture, and the State

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The Arts of Democracy: Art, Public Culture, and the State Casey Nelson Blake, Ed. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

This comprehensive and profound investigation into the place and possible role of the arts in present-day and future-day culture is fundamental to the curious mind about the future of public arts. Of course the primary concern of the various authors is the creation and presentation of the central and upper arts. What role should and can the conventional arts play in a developing democracy and how are the presentations to be achieved? The issue is becoming warmer and warmer: "The essays collected here, which reflect the influence of two decades of debates inside and outside the academy about the arts, polliatics, and public life, represent the coming of age of one of the liveliest fields in contemporary scholarship" (2). One is afraid that the editor of such a volume might keep warm over the coals of conventionality and be concerned only with the established arts. But not quite. In discussing what have been called "omnivores," or high-class and general appreciators of art who look around them, and "univores," or people who might appreciate their own brand of art, the editor writes, ". …