Multiculturalism and Public Arts Policy

Multiculturalism and Public Arts Policy

Multiculturalism and Public Arts Policy

Multiculturalism and Public Arts Policy

Synopsis

The idea of public support for the arts is being challenged. Multiculturalism has been proposed as a worthy and necessary goal of public arts policy; whether or not it should be is explored for the first time in this book. Issues of cultural pluralism, the relations of art and culture, justice and affirmative action, and artistic value are presented as essential points of debate in making decisions concerning public support of the arts. This book will be of interest to professionals and teachers in the arts, public policy, arts management, and education. Its focus on multiculturalism and its analysis of basic concepts related to timely issues of public arts policy make it a unique contribution.

Excerpt

This chapter constitutes an effort to interpret the policies of public arts agencies regarding multiculturalism. It rests on the methodological assumptions of interpretive policy analysis and thus aims to explicate the actions of policy agents and how they understand such actions. This stress on action is intentional. It is consistent with the concept of a policy as a choice to act in accord with a stated imperative whenever specified conditions pertain. Further, such an emphasis counters the view that interpretive policy analysis can lose track of what policy agents actually do in trying to understand their intentions. Thus, this chapter will concentrate on what public arts agencies are doing and plan to do rather than what they say they do or plan to do. Of course, the language used in the documents of arts policy agents is not unimportant. Indeed, the language of arts policy agents is a primary focus of the current and subsequent chapters. But the focus here is on action language, the normative concepts of art, culture, justice, and artistic value by which arts policy agents make sense of or rationalize what they actually do. It is in the next chapter that we will go beyond this necessary first step of explicating arts policy agents' understandings of what they do by clarifying assumptions in contestable value positions as revealed in their usage of normative concepts in policy contexts.

RATIONALE FOR FOCUS ON STATE ARTS AGENCIES

The decision in this book to attend to the actions of public arts agencies regarding multiculturalism begs a question that has not been addressed to this point--namely, What is the significance of decisions by public agencies relative to those made in the private sector as they affect arts organizations of ethnic cultural traditions? The previous chapter cited the shift from marketplace to political decisions as a force in the reemergence of the salience of multiculturalism in American society. But the relationship between public and private decisions in the arts warrants closer scrutiny.

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