Democracy and the Arts: The Role of Participation

By Terri Lynn Cornwell | Go to book overview

Public purpose/private interest cycles are also reflected in American society's changing definition of art and the value it places on participation. Until the beginning of the Depression, art in the United States was defined as an activity of the wealthy and was supported by private patrons. With the "detonating issue" of the Depression came the first massive government arts programs of the 1930s (see Chapter 8) in the public interest. These programs disappeared during the next two decades of private interest, but government involvement -- following public interest -- reappeared again with the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1965.

Three key points should be highlighted from the discussion in this chapter:

The number of people participating in the arts depends on the particular society's definition of art and the value it places on art.

Opportunities to participate by all classes increase with the democratization of society and/or a change in the definition of art.

Economics has a key role in all societies to make the system function.

Regardless of society's definition of art, the value it places on art, or the number of persons involved in the arts, Pateman would say that given the appropriate environment, those who do become involved will reinforce their participatory skills. Participation itself changes the character of the participants, which, in turn, changes society.

The following chapters use the theory of participatory democracy as outlined in this chapter and the description of arts participation as provided in the next chapter to build a theory of arts participation to establish a model to use in the descriptions of three specific historical periods: Athens of fifth-century B.C., the United States during the Jacksonian era, and the late twentieth-century United States.


Notes
1
Talcott Parsons, The Social System ( Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1951), p. 3.
2
Ibid., pp. 5-6.
3
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., The Cycles of American History ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986), p. 27.
4
Arnold Hauser, The Social History of Art ( London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951), p. 42.

-45-

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Democracy and the Arts: The Role of Participation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Democracy and the Arts: An American Perspective 1
  • Notes 9
  • 2 - Democratic Theory: General Considerations 11
  • Notes 28
  • 3 - Participation in the Arts: A Historical Perspective 31
  • Notes 45
  • 4 - Participatory Democracy and the Arts 49
  • Notes 76
  • 5 - Democracy and the Arts in Ancient Greece 83
  • Notes 89
  • 6 - Nineteenth-Century American Democracy and the Arts 93
  • Notes 103
  • 7 - Twentieth-Century American Democracy 107
  • Notes 119
  • 8 - Participation in the Arts: Mid-Twentieth Century America 123
  • Notes 158
  • 9 - The Role of Participation: Implications and Recommendations 165
  • Notes 185
  • Appendices 189
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 209
  • About the Author *
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