In yesterday’s post for Salon, journalist Scott Timberg explores why there is “No Sympathy for the Creative Class.” He writes, “There’s a sense that manufacturing, or the agrarian economy, is what this country is really about. But culture was, for a while, what America did best: We produce and export creativity around the world. So why aren’t we lamenting the plight of its practitioners?”
He highlights several statistics to show just how badly the press and media have missed this story, beginning with figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which show that performing arts jobs are down 21.9 percent over the past five years, and from Kickstarter, which on the whole has been a help but not a panacea, since the crowd-funding site accepts just 60 percent of all proposals, with only about 43 percent of those ending up being supported.
Timberg proposes several answers to his question, from the widely held subjective belief that creative types “are supposed to struggle” to the unfortunate objective fact that newspapers have laid off about 50 percent of their arts journalists. Along the way, he explores the effects of the populist anti-intellectualism in America – from the Puritans to Dan Quayle – and of the market fundamentalism in which everything “can be bought, sold and measured” and which trivializes the arts as mere souvenirs of “cultural tourism.”
It is a large question, and Timberg falls short of providing a large answer, but it is a welcome opening in the conversation and an important acknowledgment of the problems facing a vtial segment of America’s working middle class.