This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

U.S. Culture Suffers From Malign Neglect

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In an article in the Wall Street Journal online, Terry Teachout cites a national decline in audiences for the "high arts" and uses it to reiterate his position that orchestras, opera companies, museums and other arts organizations fail because of their in ability to innovate.

In order to survive, such institutions will have to constantly re-examine their missions and adapt to the brutal challenges of American culture in the 21st century.

Anyone care to argue? Bueller?

Of course not. As far as it goes, his point is simply that arts organizations need to do their best to stay relevant to the changing communities and shifting conditions. Cultural institutions have known that -- and talked about it and tortured themselves over it -- for at least 50 years. My article last week What's Killing the Orchestras of the United States? offered more or less the same point as a conclusion, that to be successful, an orchestra needed an effective, working board dedicated to immediate and long-term planning.

But the key words in the Teachout quote are "brutal challenges of American culture." With those words, he would like to let the wealthiest Americans in position to help these organizations off scot free. in the course of my article I laid out some of the many challenges facing orchestras. Teachout would like to sweep those aside and put the onus solely on the failed institutions. Do your job better, he implies, and all will be well.

That argument is an old capitalist rationalization. Businesses that fail deserve to fail. It allows us to walk away from the free marketplace with a clear conscience each day. But applied here, the argument trivializes and obscures known problems in education and in funding that currently plague the arts. It also ignores the special place the arts have in society, treating them as more or less disposable.

As I've said before, the wealthiest Americans have made a killing over the past three years but their charitable donations have not risen proportionately. A study published by the University of California at Berkeley found that from 2009 to 2012, the top 1% of U.S. incomes grew by 31.4%, while the rest grew at 0.4%.

In the meantime, charitable donations in general have not yet recovered. Giving USA estimates that if the current rate of giving continues, it will take a full six or seven years to reach pre-Recession levels. The small slice for arts and culture has been rising faster than giving in general, but still not enough to make up for the damage done by the drop-off beginning in 2008.
1 of 3

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
AAPL $93.64 -0.11%
FB $118.57 0.84%
GOOG $698.21 0.75%
TSLA $241.80 0.43%
YHOO $36.53 -0.19%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,891.16 +117.52 0.66%
S&P 500 2,081.43 +16.13 0.78%
NASDAQ 4,817.5940 +42.2360 0.88%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs