Arts It’s Different in China
posted by March 22 at 13:37 PMon
I was thinking about political art (specifically Rachel Corrie) and arts funding (specifically, whether publicly subsidizing artmakers is always and everywhere a good idea) when I came across this quote in this article about dance in China:
“The idea of arts as propaganda no longer prevails,” Willy Tsao, who runs three dance companies in China, wrote in an e-mail message. “The government sees that art serves more the purpose of entertaining the public than of education, thus wants the art groups to get more support from the audience through box office and commercial sponsorship. I see that this is a natural transition when the Chinese government is adjusting its policies, shifting from a totalitarian state to a freer society. To me, this is a period of true test; only those who are truly devoted will stay away from the ‘entertainment trap.’”
When’s the last time you heard an artist say that less government funding was liberating?
Or that the urge to make politically persuasive art is, at its root, the urge to propagandize?
Or (and, this is my favorite, in this age—and town—of “socially-conscious” mission statements and art-as-vegetables condescension) imply that the entertainment vs. edification dichotomy is false? That propagandizing is bullshit, that entertainment is a “trap,” and we should be thinking in other directions?
Now please enjoy this photo by Chinese artist Wang Ningde: